Everyone into video games is talking about the new digital remastering of PlayStation 4’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Xbox One’s Overwatch Duty. Both games are exciting and will be entertaining for avid gamers, but how will the two games affect health?
Let’s break it down and take a look at each. Modern Warfare is being released alongside the latest game in the Call of Duty series, namely Infinite Warfare. So far, the premise of the game isn’t so unique. It’s a first-person shooter game that follows soldiers fulfilling their duty, taking out bad guys and ideally coming off victorious in the end.
The newest games offer enhanced weapons and multiplayer features that allow even more action on the battlefront. Players can get their hands dirty in even more ways now.
Overwatch Beta is the newest test series in a line built by the World of Warcraft developer. It’s a first-person shooter game in which a series of wild characters use unique weapons to attack each other and achieve their own ends. It takes on a much more irreverent tone than Call of Duty because of the characters and setting.
Both games are part of a long series of violent first-person video games, and it’s brought on even further debate regarding the health implications of each.
Dr. Al Sears, M.D., a pioneer in anti-aging medicine, is concerned that video games such as this may have a profound effect on the brains of children and adolescents.
“There’s evidence that violent video games alter brain functioning,” he says in an article about the future of brain development.
He cites a study in which researchers at Indiana University, Indianapolis, monitored the cognitive function of two different groups of kids, some playing violent video games, and others playing non-violent, but adrenaline-pumping, games.
The results showed that those who played violent video games showed increased activity in the amygdala, which indicates anger. Those who played non-violent video games showed a spike in endorphins, but no changes in brain function.
“This study and what we know about conditioning and learning is not proof, but it is reason to suspect that children who spend a lot of time firing up their reptilian brain may be more prone to violence — and may be less likely to show self-control,” Sears says.
This is one more voice to add to the ongoing debate about the effects of violent video games on children’s brains. Most studies report that violence in virtual games can lead to feelings of anger in those who play the games, but it’s difficult to connect those feelings to acts of violence that occur down the road.
Though the health implications of violent video games should be recognized, it’s interesting to note that some video games can improve children’s health, and can even lead to better cognitive function and motor skills.
One study featured previously in the Inquisitr showed that some game developers are producing new programs under a Games for Health for Children initiative that promises to prevent and treat major health concerns.
“The available evidence reveals that Games for Health are very promising to prevent and treat obesity, reduce stress, prevent smoking, and contribute to many positive health outcomes among children. This White Paper offers a road map for the activities that need to occur to achieve that potential,” Dr. Baranowski stated.
Studies in the past have also shown that video games can increase motor functions, and it’s actually a warmup technique surgeons in hospitals use all over the world when prepping for surgery.
All in all, the health implications of video games is still a fuzzy line, but most health professionals agree that moderation in all things is key. Games like Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare and Overwatch should be played only by children at an appropriate age, and their game time should be limited in order to reduce the risk of altered cognitive function.
[Image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]