Looking at Link Between Violent Video Games and Lack of Empathy

Nick Bilton, Hack Educa, Jun 16, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

OK, I'll confess, I watch 'fail' videos on YouTube. If you're not familiar with the genre, it consists generally of people doing things which end badly. Sometimes you just know the person felt some pain at the end of it. In my case, at least, there is an empathetic response - I experience an involuntary shudder as though it were me about to experience that fall. It's hard to self-monitor, but it seems like I'm reacting less over time to these fail videos. Now, I've also played violent video games, but I've never felt that empathy. So - what all this leads me to think is that violent games have no impact on empathy because they never induce it in the first place, but that violent video, which does initially cause empathy, might reduce empathy as we gradually become inured to it.

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