Learning within games

The endless debate of whether video games contribute to violent behaviour or not continues to grow as video games become more interactive and realistic.
In relation to this, Watkins and Everett (2008) question what kind of learning takes place when someone plays a video game. For example, if someone plays Grand Theft Auto and learns that within the game killing prostitutes is considered ‘right’ and is then rewarded, will they take this knowledge into the real world and continue killing? Personally, I think that the large majority of people playing this game already know the difference between right and wrong and can see a very clear difference between the real and online world.
However if we are fed information on a subject we know nothing about can this affect our learning? Video games, film, television shows and books are all alive with stereotypes and for many it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction. For example, in Grand Theft Auto, many of the characters can be considered racial stereotypes and if you only have exposure to this single view of a particular race, it can very well have an effect on what and how you learn within the game.
Some may learn how to develop an emotional connection to people and things within the online world. “A Rape in Cyberspace” (Dibbell, 1998), discusses the deep connection people can have with their online avatars and friends, and how sometimes traumatic events can occur online as well as offline. “Just turn off the computer and forget it ever happened” is a common piece of advice given to those experiencing harassment or assault of any kind online, however for those emotionally invested, this is part of their life, not just something that can be turned off and forgotten.


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