“Study”: Kids that play FPS games are less empathetic

Wednesday, 10th February 2010 17:53 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

cartman vs supernanny

Supernanny Jo Frost’s new show in the UK, Extreme Parental Guidance, will have its debut episode focusing on children and violent videogames.

To help her along, Frost solicited Iowa State University’s Dr. Douglas Gentile to conduct a study with her on 40 boys and the after effects of playing a FPS.

The first episode has Frost and Gentile splitting the 40 boys in half. One group plays a football game for 20 minutes, while the other half plays a FPS for 20 minutes.

After each play time, the boys are shown a news clip full of violence, and the study found that the heart rates of the footballers was higher than the FPS – proving what Gentile said was “shocking” desensitization in only 20 minutes with the videogamers.

Another experiment had Gentile knocking over a can of pencils in front of each boy individually, to measure empathy. This test had 40 percent of boys who played the FPS helping pick up the pencils, compared to 80 percent of those who played football.

It was not taken into account whether the unhelpful boys were just ill-mannered brats or not.

The Guardian, which has a rundown of the episode noted that: “Cognitive neuroscience is a complex field – it is perhaps not something to be prodded and poked at during a piece of realty TV voyeurism masquerading as documentary material…if just 20 minutes of exposure is enough to turn normal boys into desensitized monsters, our streets should be filled with violence. They’re not.”

Via GamePolitics.



  1. Stephany Nunneley

    I chuckled and thought about putting study in parenthesis.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. KillerDD

    What do higher heart rates have to do with showing empathy? Doesn’t that just show they are more excited about what they are seeing?

    I wouldn’t help anyone who purposely knocked over a can of penciles either by the way…

    #2 5 years ago
  3. SunKing

    I really wish news sites wouldn’t post these kinds of bullshit “studies” (I did it for you, Steph) so often. On the other hand, it is technically news, it brings in traffic and it gets idiots like me commenting on them, so I don’t blame VG247 or any other sites in particular for doing it. I just don’t like the idea of giving these people/organisations the free press that’s created out of the controversy.

    N.B. I assume you meant air quotes, not parentheses, but I could be wrong. (I am wrong a lot of the time, anyway.)

    #3 5 years ago
  4. RGW1982

    YAY! Propaganda!

    #4 5 years ago
  5. blackdreamhunk

    hahaha they say people who play rts games are smarter.

    #5 5 years ago
  6. Stephany Nunneley

    @3 yeah air quotes is more like it. You know what? I am gonna do it anyway.


    #6 5 years ago
  7. Yoshi

    To make this a fair test they should switch it, the group who played football now play an fps.

    Plus i bet they chose some right fucked up chavs

    #7 5 years ago
  8. fdelfino

    the kids should’ve helped her pick up the penciles and then stick one into one of her eyeballs. That outha teach that cunt something…

    #8 5 years ago
  9. Zarckan

    It was on here last night. Next weeks has a 12 year old that plays games for 80 hours a week!!!!! // shit parenting

    #9 5 years ago
  10. Stephany Nunneley

    80 hours a week? God. That’s right, Supernanny. Go for the most “extreme” cases just for good rating on the television.

    Let sensationalism cause the unwashed masses to think that this is the “norm”, causing armchair advocates to vote for morons using scare tactics in the next election. Just like America.

    She should just go the way of Springer and get on with it.

    #10 5 years ago
  11. Scyrenn


    #11 5 years ago
  12. onlineatron

    I disagree that games make kids less empathetic, I ‘suffer’ from severe empathy despite having played games all my life, feeling bad for anyone with the slightest look of vacancy or loneliness on their face.

    However I can’t defend videogames against every complaint leveled against them. I’m conscious of videogames have a profound effect on my social life and thoughts.

    During middle school I would bring computer game magazines into school and read them before lessons, prompting people to be mean to me.
    I’ve also used videogames to escape from issues with my friends and family.
    I have also let videogames distract me from school work and lower my grades.

    Perhaps, like many, i’m using games as a scapegoat for personal faults; or perhaps i’m overreacting. But I feel videogames can have a negative effect on children (as well as positive, fueling creativity and lateral thinking) and as such if/when I have children I will try and keep more of a limit on their computer game playing time then my parents did with me.

    /Dr. Phil moment over

    #12 5 years ago
  13. Gurdil

    That’s BS! Those experiments don’t prove anything AND we’re not even sure they were driven properly… Prepare for a bunch of people who’re gonna try and talk you out of video games cause they’re so evil! Crap I hadn’t heard this kind of dumb speech for a couple months… Didn’t miss it lol

    #13 5 years ago
  14. Psychotext

    Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping.

    Leon: [angry at the suggestion] Of course I’m not helping, this is the best time to teabag that noob.

    #14 5 years ago
  15. onlineatron

    Ha! Great reference :P

    #15 5 years ago
  16. Psychotext

    It fits rather nicely. :)

    #16 5 years ago
  17. onlineatron

    Just seen the ‘facepalm’ tag! Well played Steph :D

    EDIT: Wait, WTF?! There isn’t a facepalm tag… I could have sworn I saw one. I’m going freaking barmy!

    #17 5 years ago
  18. Psychotext

    Drugs are bad, mmkay.

    #18 5 years ago
  19. SunKing


    Win, for quoting my second favourite film of all time.

    #19 5 years ago
  20. redlander


    #20 5 years ago

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