Beating up hookers, jumping on turtles and assassinating key historical figures. All of these have one thing in common. They can be accomplished through video games.

Today is Video Game Day, where players cherish their favorite games and with all the negativity associated with games, students and faculty find the good that is sometimes overlooked.

Michael Ward, economic professor and UTA eSports faculty adviser, said he and other researchers found that playing video games is actually associated with less real-life violence.

Youth violence has steadily declined over the last 20 years, which is the same period over which video games became popular, Ward said in a video he made called Do Video Games Make You Violent?

“However well-intentioned, the calls for restrictions on violent video games are, as a society we would be censoring games based on a mistaken belief that they cause violence and could actually be leaving Americans exposed to more real-life harm,” Ward said in the video.

Ward, who prefers strategy games over shooters, said their research focuses on the catharsis and time management aspects of playing video games in relationship to the reduction of violent crimes.

Catharsis allows people to potentially vent their anger and frustrations in a video game rather than in the real world, he said. With time management, every hour gamers spend inside with friends means less time out at the bar or on the street, he said.

The UTA FabLab uses the Oculus Rift, a wearable headpiece that immerses users into virtual reality, to prepare people in safety situations, FabLab technician Morgan Chivers said.

In gaming, the Oculus’ potential is huge, but the application for augmented reality goes far beyond that, Chivers said.

Along with flying simulators and walking with virtual dinosaurs, the Oculus has applications to help prepare commercial flight passengers for an emergency water landing and a parking simulator, Chivers said.

These are scenarios people may face and getting experience in the virtual world can equip them for real life, he said.

Information technology junior Mirza Kovacevic,who is a former platinum player in League of Legends, said one of the many benefits of gaming is playing and bonding with friends who are far away.

More than 70 percent of gamers play with a friend and millions of people participate in virtual worlds through video games such as Farmville and World of Warcraft, according to the American Psychological Association.

Playing video games may also help children develop problem-solving skills, according to the APA. The more adolescents reported playing strategic video games, such as role-playing games, the more they improved in problem-solving and class grades the following year, according to the APA.

Kovacevic said games such as, Portal and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, teach gamers to be quick on their feet.

“Decision making is very influenced by gaming,” Kovacevic said. “I think we are quicker.”

@searsrafael

rafael.sears@mavs.uta.edu

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