Violent video games have been blamed for just about everything. When the Columbine high school shootings happened, video games were one of the first influences to be blamed but regardless of their notoriety; they are just as popular as ever. With recent games such as Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty 4 smashing sales records, it seems that there is surely an appetite for these games and previous studies have shown that violent video games are not all that bad, as they can be a very good form of release for the players.
Now a new research has shown that besides the possible cathartic effects of violent video games, there can also be physical effects as well. Research conducted by Keele University in the UK has found that those playing violent video games actually develop a higher tolerance towards pain.
Lead researcher, Dr Richard Stephens took a volunteer group of 40 participants and conducted a study in which they were required to play 10 minutes of a violent and non violent game and immediately afterwards immerse their hands into ice cold water. It was seen that during the course of the experiment, those that had been playing a first person shooter game were on average to keep their hands in the ice cold water 65 per cent longer than those who had played the non violent game. The researchers noted that not only did the gamers’ pain tolerance increase after playing the violent game but also saw an increase in their heart rate. The researchers attributed this increase in pain tolerance to the body’s own mechanism of fight or flight, which the players experienced while playing the violent game. With their ‘fight’ mode on, the players experienced an increased heart rate and pain inhibition.
The present study followed an earlier research conducted by the same team on the effects of swearing on pain tolerance and commenting upon this, Dr Stephens said,”We assumed that swearing eases pain by sparking an emotional reaction in participants - most likely to be aggression - in turn setting off the body’s fight or flight response. This latest study was a test of that assumption in which we set out to try and raise participants’ aggression levels by having them play a violent video game. We then tested the effect on pain tolerance. The results confirm our predictions that playing the video game increased both feelings of aggression and pain tolerance,” adding that, researchers have already been exploring the use of virtual reality as a way of helping people better deal with pain.”