|that have people building a space station, landing on
planets, or conquering obstacles? I think cooperation should be addressed more often
than competition, but we're concerned with the hostility, be it verbal or physical, that
these games cause.
"Games like Firebug and Custer's Revenge are teaching people skills we'd rather not have in this world," Radecki says. "Custer's Revenge may be much more abstract, and less objectionable than movies with rape themes like Class of 84, Concrete Jungle, and Death Wish II. Firebug, however, involves spreading fire and training people to be arsonists. How anyone could think these games aren't encouraging people to be violent is beyond me."
One man who challenges Radecki's claims is Peter Favaro, a Long Island school psychologists and doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. He and Radecki debated the violence issue on Mike Douglas' show last fall.
"Obviously," admits Favaro, "the games have aggressive themes. But no research shows it translates into aggressive behavior. If there is aggressive behavior around arcades, that's a correlation, not proof of cause and effect. Hey, there's aggression in schools and around supermarkets, too.
"In most games, the rules are unclear," he contends. "You have to project a lot. In Missile Command, for instance, you might be saving a city or participating in a terrible war. The way the player thinks of the game is based on all his past experience."
Favaro, who has received some financial support for traveling from Atari, questions NCTV's research methodology. "I don't think Radecki is approaching this matter scientifically, by testing hypothesis in a controlled and certifiable experiment. The social scientist's responsibility is to provide data, and NCTV just hasn't produced any."
Atari lent video games to Favaro for research towards completion of an as-yet-unpublished doctoral thesis. By "modifying the contingencies, changing the rules and providing positive and negative reinforcement to promote sharing, helping, and cooperative play." Favaro found that video games had therapeutic effects on 30 learning disabled and emotionally disturbed children.
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