Violent Video Games Might Relieve Stress, Also Grass is Green (Or Is It?)


Researchers at a branch of Texas A&M University recently published findings suggesting that video games reduce stress, something which is completely intuitive to anyone who’s ever played one, and probably anyone who’s ever played a board game too. Unfortunately, detractors of the gaming industry will probably continue obsess over what gaming is doing to corrupt the youth of today, as video games are most certainly single-handedly responsible for the corruption of young brains everywhere and possess no redeeming qualities to speak of. They certainly aren’t capable of sharpening our senses, honing leadership skills or simulating strategic scenarios. And gaming most-definitely has no foreseeable therapeutic application, as this study seems to strongly indicate:

The results of this study may help provide others with ways to come up with a mood-management activity that provides individuals with ways to tolerate or reduce stress.

“It probably won’t come to a surprise to gamers that playing games may reduce stress,” Ferguson said, “although others have been skeptical of this idea. This is the first study that explores this idea, however. It does seem that playing violent games may help reduce stress and make people less depressed and hostile.”

Ferguson cautioned that these results were correlational, however, and more research is needed. However, he suggested that video games could increasingly be used in therapy with young adults and teens. Violent games may help people work through their frustrations with real life and calm down without increasing aggressive behaviors in real life.

Dr. Ferguson certainly isn’t off-base in stating that the results “won’t come as a surprise” to gaming enthusiasts. In fact, I’d go so far as to say people play games for this very purpose. You know, relaxing and having fun. Just like most enjoyable things (sex, shopping and booze, to name a few) games are probably best enjoyed in moderation. And if part of your stupid moderated non-gaming life pisses you off, like real life is wont to do, sublimating your rage through a first-person shooter probably isn’t a bad idea.

(@gamepolitics via @gameinformer)


In other news, Google launched an experimental app-creation platform today that may bring non-developers with cool ideas a few steps closer to realizing their dreams. Or morons with shitty ideas one step closer to polluting the Android app market– You decide!



In other cool news, it might be possible to develop synesthesia through conditioning, which is great news if you think synesthesia is one of the coolest things in the entire world ever, like I do. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a neurological condition which causes a range of (really interesting) involuntary sensory experiences:

In one of the most common forms of synesthesia, grapheme → color synesthesia, individual letters of the alphabet and numbers (collectively referred to as graphemes), are “shaded” or “tinged” with a color. While different individuals usually do not report the same colors for all letters and numbers, studies with large numbers of synesthetes find some commonalities across letters (e.g., A is likely to be red). (@wikipedia)

While the end result might be the same, it’s difficult to say if trained synesthetic phenomena would be akin to the subjective experience of naturally occurring synesthesia. So basically don’t get too excited because it might be way cooler if you’re actually a synesthete. And hey, isn’t that possibility kind of like this classic philosophy question (a.k.a. one of my favorite things to think about ever)? Okay, that might have been a little much for a Monday.

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Taylor has written 136 articles for us.


  1. re: synesthesia

    I definitely think it’s one of the coolest things in the entire world ever. I mean: “To one synesthetic person, middle C when played on a violin is dark red and smells like baked bread.” Lucky bastard. One of my main goals in life is to experience something like that; I’ve been told LSD does the trick sometimes, but conditioning myself by reading a novel sounds way groovier.

    Also, I know I have to keep my ‘ArchAndroid’-related feelings to myself, but my favorite song is actually my favorite in part (read: primarily) because it references synesthesia. Synesthesia!

  2. My older sister and I are sythnesthetics. It’s hilarious because starting when we were about 6 and 8 we would argue for hours over what color things were.

    I once got in trouble because i tried to paint the color of everything on post-its and then stick them on the objects. My mother pulled one too many utensils out of drawers only to find a post-it shedding paint.

    I digress.

    ANYWAY. WTF? Being a natrual synesthesic is awesome. Bitches be encroaching.

  3. 1 is white, 2 is blue, 3 is yellow, 4 is green, 5 is red, 6 is pink, 7 is yellow…I thought this was just common knowledge for a really long time. But my apparent “synesthesia” only vividly goes up to 7 and some random letters so I’m not as special as I’d like to think. oooooh well!

      • wait wait, 2 is pink, 3 is light green, 4 is blue, 5 is orange! i love when you guys write about sciency stuff like this!

  4. Gaming definitely de-stresses me. When I’ve had a bad day, a bit of WoW hits the spot. And if it’s a REALLY bad day… Grand Theft Auto with the tank cheat code on and that other cheat code that gives everyone weapons and compels them to shoot each other. And then I drive down the street running people over and going RAHHHHH and um where was I?

  5. True, violent video games can relieve stress, but is this a healthy stress buster? In moderation, probably so. In excess though violent games desensitize. I actually gave a response to this study on my site today:



  6. This is by far the best technofix I have read since the last one.

    First, regarding games, aren’t there as many different responses to video games as there are people and moods?

    I’m sort of bored with how all these sorts of studies concentrate on relating gaming and online-iness to these dull, binary emotions.

    Synaesthesia does sound cool, I read a great book once that featured a girl that got synaesthetically aroused from underwear she stole from another girl in the laundromat where she worked.

    The inverted qualia thing was truly wonderful, though I think my subconscious must be in queering overdrive, because this bit screamed out at me:

    when Invert looks at a violet she becomes acquainted with the kind of sense-datum Nonvert is acquainted with when he looks at a marigold. Setting this tendentious theoretical gloss aside, Locke’s scenario has three notable features. First, it is a case of spectrum inversion from birth. Second, it is a case of inversion within the same linguistic community. Third, it is (or is naturally read as being) a case in which Invert and Nonvert are behaviorally alike — a behaviorally undetectable spectrum inversion.

    Try replacing both “violet” and “marigold” with “naked lady,” then “Invert” with “Queermo” and “Nonvert” with “Straimo.”

    Here I was thinking that sexuality was a spectrum, when all along it was a three-dimensional space, around which the depth and hue of our desires float.

    • you win! i think you won. i’m glad the inverted qualia thing was up your alley and not just my alley which is violet. also i secretly love this headline, even though it isn’t that funny.

      • You mean the headline about the grass being green?

        I was musing about the greenness of grass a couple of months ago, stuck in traffic. It’s a worldwide thing that red traffic lights mean stop and green means go, which makes sense: red is traditionally the colour of fire and danger, green its spectral opposite, which also stands for all that is natural and good.

        But what if nature wasn’t green? What if it was purple? We have a whole semantic based on nature’s greenness; would it be purple for go? Would gardeners have purple fingers? Would the other man’s grass always be purpler?

        Because, you know, it really could have been purple. Scientists reckon that it was was purple bacteria that was the first to photosynthesise (although without producing oxygen). If the earth’s parameters were shifted just a muon’s-width, maybe we’d be treading purple fields right now.

        So that’s my grass-is-green-or-is-it story, or at least the start of it.

        • In the chinese cultural revolution they changed the traffic lights to red meaning go and green meaning stop(cause red is the colour of communism.) But they did it so badly and not even changed all of them so they just had massive number of car crashes.

          But no object is green but only do we sense it to be green. So it´s our eyes but not the grass we should be wondering about(or at least thats my take)

          I´m mostly a moral and existential philosopher by the way.

  7. synesthesia is pretty cool, except for that one time when I didn’t wanna turn 21 because it was so ugly and tasted like milk mixed with water and all of my friends were telling me to stop doing drugs.
    now I’m 23 and loving how green it is, so I think I’ll never have another birthday again.

    and yes, “a” is red. the most yellow word is “bikini”, by the way.

    • that is so crazy/interesting. tell me more about all the other years? and that’s sick about 21.

      • the other years were ok, the only other birthday that really bothered me was my 16th, because it was pink and I disliked the colour at that time… overall, I have always felt more sympathy (?) towards odd numbers though. even numbers are either boring or have a weird colour on them, with the exception, of course, of 21.

  8. In my Renaissance Drama class, we learned that people used to watch violence in plays because watching someone else do bad things was cathartic and got it out of your system so that you don’t do bad things. I think the same idea applies to the violent video game thing. I mean, it works for me at least. Far better to shoot my friends in Halo or Unreal Tournament than do something to them in real life when they drink all my booze.

  9. Yay synesthesia! Mine’s a bit weird – I tend to see songs, almost like a multisensory music video. Certain songs have certain colours and feels to them. Emotions too; depression/fear is a green & black cloud.

  10. Autostraddle makes me less stressed. I get home all stressed out, come to autostraddle and everything is magically better.

  11. Have you ever tried to explain the qualia dilemma to a non-philosopher type? It’s basically impossible.
    Thinking about qualia makes me question everything!

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