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Survey Refutes 'Loner' Stereotype of Video Gamers
Date:1/10/2013

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A new survey challenges the notion that avid video gamers are antisocial loners. On the contrary, the findings suggest that gaming is actually a way to stay connected with friends and strengthen, rather than weaken, social ties.

The Pennsylvania researchers set out to gauge the habits and attitudes of regular gamers as well as the social interaction that group play engenders.

"In general, we were interested in how engagement with video games is related with perceptions of social support, based on the common belief that playing video games is socially isolating," explained study lead author Benjamin Hickerson, an assistant professor in the department of recreation, parks and tourism management at Penn State in University Park, Pa.

Responses from 166 gamers revealed that "if a player organized their life around video games they were more likely to report lower perceptions of social support," noted Hickerson. But, "if they felt they played games for mostly social reasons, they were more likely to report increased perceptions of social support."

The effect of video games on behavior has triggered much research, and mass shootings in the United States -- from Columbine to the recent massacre of schoolchildren and teachers in Newtown, Conn. -- continue to reignite that debate. So far, studies have found an association between ultra-violent games and aggression, but not a cause-and-effect relationship, according to background information in the study.

For their study, published in the current issue of Society and Leisure, Hickerson and colleague Andrew Mowen questioned people waiting outside two Pennsylvania stores for a nighttime release of a new version of "Call of Duty," a popular shooter video game. As such, participants were deemed to be avid gamers. The respondents were overwhelmingly male with an average age of 21.

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