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Author Topic: Mirror Neurons and Video Games
pooka
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I just caught this episode of Nova as I was moving last year, and someone brought it up at dinner last night. I have some long running debates with folks on the impact of video games on behavior and wondered what they thought on this.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3204/01.html

What I summarize from this is that people's motor neurons are excited by watching people do things, as if they themselves were doing it. Now in all the experiments they show, the action had to be one the person had themselves done first. So we kind of get into a gray area with videogames that have you watching things you've never actually done.

Toward the end, they talk about how people with autism "lack" (Nova's verbiage) mirror neuronal response, but that they are intelligent. The discussion at dinner was about the father of Pierre Curie, who practiced medicine for lower class people much to the chagrin of his relations. This was mentioned to demonstrate that a lack of social boundaries can enable more ethical behavior in some circumstances.

But I don't know, maybe people who really like violent videogames are people who have mirror neuronal (social boundary) deficiency. So perhaps the argument is unless you are already a killer, you aren't going to like violent videogames. And if you're already a killer, the videogames can't be blamed for whatever.

Discuss.

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Nikisknight
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What do you consider violent vis a vis video games?
I vaguely remember hearing about mirror neurons before, though I don't remember where. I don't think you can connect them so closely with enjoyment, can you?
I mean, people could enjoy watching someone play a sport that they haven't played and wouldn't even like playing, couldn't they?

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pooka
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The involvement of fans in sports is central to the piece I linked to.

The question of what is violent in videogames is an interesting one. I was puzzled that the killing of animals was almost entirely removed from the latest Tomb Raider release, and apparently from several of the editions before that. They bowed to pressure from people who were shocked that people would be entertained by shooting tigers, I guess. One of the other Tomb Raiders had Lara shooting U.S. troops, police and museum guards, according to wikipedia. All the guys you shoot in Legend/7 are mercenaries.

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Puppy
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quote:
So perhaps the argument is unless you are already a killer, you aren't going to like violent videogames.
I don't think that anyone is saying that "mirror neurons" are the only reason people ever enjoy watching things.

And since in a video game, you do feel like you are performing the actions you are witnessing, I don't know if mirror neutrons really have anything to do with it at all ... unless you're watching someone else play.

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0Megabyte
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"But I don't know, maybe people who really like violent videogames are people who have mirror neuronal (social boundary) deficiency. So perhaps the argument is unless you are already a killer, you aren't going to like violent videogames. And if you're already a killer, the videogames can't be blamed for whatever. "


I find this kinda silly.

I enjoy killing things in video games. I'm no killer.

Blowing zombies heads off can be quite satisfying.

Throwing grenades at enemies in Half-Life is enjoyable.

Does this mean I have some kind of deficiency? No way.

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I Am The War Chief
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Am I more likely to mimik blowing up people in real life or trying out that "awesome" wrestling move I just pulled off in wrestle king w/e. Or try and pull a 360 boardslide like in tony hawks underground (note I do not play those games so I apologize for the crappy titles description)
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pooka
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quote:
And since in a video game, you do feel like you are performing the actions you are witnessing, I don't know if mirror neutrons really have anything to do with it at all ... unless you're watching someone else play.
0_o

Hmmm. I'm trying to align this with some of the conversations we've had previously on videogames and behavior.

Something very puzzling that I had missed by skipping episodes 3-6 of the Tomb Raider franchise was the shift from shooting animals to shooting people. I guess the argument was that animals are generally defenseless, except for those that have in the meantime become endangered or extinct. I found this very odd, and it's actually something I've really disliked about Tombraider Legend/7. I mean, I didn't really like shooting spiders and rats.

We probably won't get future releases for this reason, since in my mind shooting humans in this T rated game is more objectionable that shooting aliens in Halo. I suppose if it were so objectionable, I shouldn't play it at all. Also, there's the problem with the sexy outfits and kids about the house.

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