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Stanford University psychologist blames games and porn for “the demise of guys”

Thursday, 24 May 2012 10:00 GMT By Alex Donaldson

A new book by creator of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment and retired Stanford University professor Dr. Phillip Zimbardo cites addiction to video games and pornography as the cause of what he calls the “demise” of young men.

The book, titled “The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It,” puts forward arguments from Zimbardo and his assistant Nikita Duncan on why “arousal addiction” – to things such as games and internet pornography – has damaged the youth of modern America.

While gamblers, alcoholics and drug addicts crave more of their addiction in higher quantities to maintain their buzz, ‘arousal’ addicts are addicted instead to novelty, they argue. In this type of addiction the addict consistently craves new experiences rather than the familiar.

The book claims that these addictions are creating a generation of young men that are unable or unwilling to deal with realities of life including relationships, schooling and work.

“There’s a general overuse of video games and porn – especially in social isolation – which is not balanced out by other activities like exercise, face-to face socialization with peers, or individual time with any kind of male mentor,” Nikita Duncan explained in a TED interview.

The book backs up its claims by making use of dark moments in gaming’s representation in the mainstream press including the death of a Starcraft player who played for 50 solid hours and the recent mass murder by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway. Breivik revealed to police he was a World of Warcraft and Call of Duty player.

There’s more on this story – including a very timely stock picture of two guys using N64 controllers – over on CNN. Thanks, GamesIndustry.

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25 Comments

  1. GrimRita

    If it wasnt for games,porn and the renowned social scientist – Hugh Hefner, lots of women would still be using batteries for entertainment!

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Daodan

    Zimbardo is a very renowned psychologist, so I’m immediately inclined to say he has a point. Can’t really tell from this excerpt though. In any case, he’s not scoring any points by backing up his claims with school shootouts and other Breivik cases >_>

    #2 3 years ago
  3. OrbitMonkey

    Too much porn gave me unrealistic attitudes as to how real women act in the bedroom… Much the same way that Disney teaches girls that Prince Charming is actually out there…

    His not. He’s at home masturbating over World of Warcraft Elf Porn.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Stardog

    If it wasn’t for games/porn, this guy wouldn’t have a book.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Yoshi

    If he wasn’t blaming games/porn he would be blaming movies, if he wasn’t blaming movies he’d be blaming tv, if he wasn’t blaming tv he’d be blaming music, bla bla fucking bla.

    Thank you for posting this and kinda ruining my morning :/ I fucking hate bullshit people like this.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. endgame

    First of all women around here don’t even look at poor guys, no matter how good they look or how funny they are. If they don’t have money they don’t get p***y. It is that simple! So why bother with these women!?

    Second. Porn is awesome! It taught me and quite a few other friends how to f**k. Seriously! Women love guys with experience and who also like to try new things whether they know it or not. Guys who have never looked at porn are douchebags. I know a few.

    3rd. Games are also awesome! Even if they might create addiction it’s better to be addicted to games then drink, smoker or drugs.

    So f**k you very much Mr. Stanford University psychologist but you don’t know s**t about life. Not until you’ve experienced it.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Da Man

    ^Wow, so obv you are unfunny, unwitty AND poor (although clearly a very horny perv?).

    After reading all these comments, I’m inclined to wholeheartedly agree with that guy.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Telepathic.Geometry

    My first reaction when I was reading this piece was that there might be something to it, and then this supposedly serious scientist started trotting out the truly exceptional cases, and my faith in his method vanished. I wish a serious scientist with no bias and no agenda of selling a book would investigate this kinda thing, as videogames are getting mainstream enough as to to warrant this kind of scientific investigation.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. G1GAHURTZ

    @7:

    +1

    #9 3 years ago
  10. YoungZer0

    … but what about Porn-Games? D:

    #10 3 years ago
  11. silkvg247

    I guess he missed the boat on social gaming then. I know plenty of happy couples who met that way.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Old MacDonald

    Urgh, I’d like to comment on this but I can’t be arsed. Need to play some porn game or other to get my daily high.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Fnoros

    WHAT?! YOUNG ADULT PRIMATES COURSING WITH TESTOSTERONE PREFER EXCITEMENT OVER BOREDOM?!?!?! WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?!?!

    but seriously, human brains are pretty much the same as when we still lived in caves and hunted mammoths with spears. Office work and schooling are not in our nature. People like these psychologists just want to make being dissatisfied with or having trouble adapting to modern society a mental illness.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. lexph3re

    By reading a lot of these non-critical thought post. It’s kinda easy to see the guy being onto something. You tend to see a person who is over indulging in something and has an addiction fight back at harmless observations.

    In someways this guy is right, unfortunately it is hard to tell his overall agenda because he has selective arguments that are not canon to the topic.

    The one of the kid who played 50 hours of gaming and died is a good one. However, the one for the school shooting is a circumstantial observation. It’s like saying the thief only stole because a game encouraged him.

    If he would’ve used standards such as the couple a year or so back that sold their kids to support their mmo fix, that would have worked better.

    In the end their are tons of factors that lead us to do a lot of stupid things. A culmination as opposed to a direct source. Most of the time it has to deal with the lack of ethical and morale training rather than just video games and porn.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. OlderGamer

    Fnoros and Lex, I agree with you both.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Yoshi

    @14 By your premise of your first paragraph (yes I read your entire post), if I insult your mother and you insult me back then according to you… you’re addicted to your mother XD

    #16 3 years ago
  17. rynofallout

    I remember when a certain white rapper came out and they did the same thing. You can’t blame any form of art for a few stupid people that have no grasp on the difference between fantasy and reality.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. lexph3re

    @16 Yes that actually is the case only difference is the level of addiction and how you take it. Clearly if I feel compelled enough to retort back at a comment you make at my mother I have a connection to her that is strong and a sort of addiction. Some healthy addictions other… Southern style(I’m so sorry for generalizing southerners. This is a disclaimer to state not all southerns have an incestuous relationship with their mum XD) addictions O.O

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    I’m sorry, but the guys arguments make little to no sense.

    His biggest problem is that he’s using the bad minority as an argument for the majority. That’s not how science work. And where are the tests to back his theories up? It’s all circumstantial obverse actions.

    The man may be renowned in his field, but that doesn’t change the fact this in this instance this is little more than sensationalist bullshit.

    How exactly has “the guy” demised? Because young men are stupid, ignorant and misguided? Because I’m pretty sure that’s been the case for the entire history of mankind. It’s called “growing up”, and it takes time.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Stephany Nunneley

    Like I said yesterday regarding this: you can use statistics and psychology to “prove” anything.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. NeoSquall

    Where is the Mario-Ron Jeremy picture?

    Damnit CNN, why do we have to teach you everything?

    #21 3 years ago
  22. TMRNetShark

    This is the same guy who did the prison experiment and proved that people in position of power will abuse that power. Now he tries to claim that video games and porn are the downfall to men? Not all men play video games and the majority of men who play video games are NORMAL PEOPLE.

    There are some sadistic people out there who are masochists and want their sexual partners to strangle them. Does that not concern Mr. Phillip Zimbardo? Nope, cause that’s not interesting for a book topic.

    So to make a quick buck, the cunningly smart Phillip Zimbardo wrote a book about a hot button topic (addiction to video games/porn use in young men) so that all the uninformed parents would buy the book because video games are in the mainstream news.

    We are being trolled here people. He’s just making money by playing off of people’s fears. >.>

    #22 3 years ago
  23. ManuOtaku

    I think all the studies, especially psychology ones, are based on the consecuences and not the real causes, if people will go with porn, and games, to escape reality, which i do agree, or movies, music, drugs, etc, etc, is becuase the reality and/or the real world (society), behaves in a way that most people find it bad, the way that students treat other students (bully), and also the students that allow this treatment looking the other way aroung, the way corporations treat their workers, with the productivity as a main focus, without taking in consideration the human aspect of their workers, the lack of empathy in our society, the way the leaders of the world are only concern with keeping the control of the masses instead of the wealth being of the masses etc, etc, i can go all day long, but to sum things up all the things that are wrong with this world are the real causes for this, or at least you should study all this prior all forms of enterteinment available, in order to see a correlation, if you dont do it you are only taking a glimpse of the consecuences and not the real causes.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. DSB

    @19, 20 Pretty much everything I was going to say.

    I think it looks like an easy way to make money by spinning recent controversy, parent paranoia, and just general prejudice against gaming.

    If you want to prove something like this, you need cause and effect, and I think we all know he doesn’t have it. There are a million reasons why someone might withdraw into videogames and porn, the most obvious being mental illness that has nothing to do with either.

    It’s an easy way to get attention and line your pockets. I’m sure he’s going to be on Fox News for this.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. endgame

    LOL Neo!

    #25 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Alien: Isolation is one of the most effectively scary triple-A games in years, but it didn’t start off a perfect creation of pure terror. Creative Assembly prototyped Alien: Isolation in third-person perspective before they nailed down the final approach. The developer revealed this during a GDC 2015 presentation, and it’s a good reminder that games […]

  • Madden 15 added to EA Vault

    Madden 15 is now included in EA’s all-you-can-eat subscriber service. Madden 15 is the ninth game to be added to the EA Vault, a stash of games available on demand for EA Access subscribers. It's still Madden Season for EA Access members – Madden NFL 15 is now in The Vault for all members. Go […]

  • Source Engine 2 doesn’t have hidden costs or royalties – but is Steam exclusive

    Three major engines went free at GDC 2015, and each of them is monetising in a different way. There’s been a heck of a lot of discussion about development tools and the costs associated with them during GDC 2015. First Epic announced that Unreal Engine 4 would be free, bar royalities on successful releases. Then […]

  • Final Fantasy creator hates sequels

    Final Fantasy, a byword in prolific franchises, was created by a man who hates sequel. Final Fantasy games are famous for being reinvented with each core release, and it was not until series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi began to withdraw from the franchise after Final Fantasy 9 that we started seeing regular sequels and spin-offs. Speaking […]

  • Guardian complaints led to the closure of Destiny’s Loot Cave

    Destiny players are to blame for the shuttering of the much loved Loot Cave. Early in Destiny‘s history, many players got hugely excited about the “Loot Cave”. Accessible shortly after starting the game for the first time, this high-volume spawn point allowed players to stand in one place, taking out waves and waves of low-level […]

  • Xbox and PC games boss Phil Harrison to leave Microsoft – rumour

    Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business VP and EMEA head of games Phil Harrison is rumoured to have thrown in the towel. Microsoft has not issued a statement on Harrison’s alleged departure, despite repeated questioning by press at GDC 2015. Instead, word comes via multiple sources speaking to GamesIndustry at the show. According to the rumours, Harrison […]

  • Metal Gear Online commentated trailer explains stuffed dog – but not invisibility

    Metal Gear Online developer Kojima Productions has provided significantly more insight into how the multiplayer side of The Phantom Pain works. Metal Gear Online is the online multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Konami hasn’t shared a great deal about it yet, but we did see a very cool Metal Gear […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Xbox One trailer shows off space MMO

    If Elite: Dangerous looks this good on Xbox One we have nothing to complain about. Microsoft revealed Elite: Dangerous is coming to Xbox One this year during its GDC presentations today. We don’t know very much about the port, but I suppose we ought to have expected it; Frontier Developments has a very close relationship […]

  • Battletoads to appear in Shovel Knight Xbox One

    A Battletoads remake must be on the horizon. Right? Right?? The Battletoads will appear in the upcoming Xbox One version of Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games revealed today. The Battletoads drop in for a fight! Shovel Knight is headed to Xbox One and meets up with @RareLtd brawling trio! pic.twitter.com/OCQIuWbH3W — Yacht Club Games (@YachtClubGames) […]

  • The Division pre-alpha footage leaks, Ubisoft says it’s well out of date

    The Division fans finally got a look at Ubisoft’s MMO this week, but the publisher has said the footage is not in any way representative. Pre-alpha footage of the The Division was leaked this week, but has since been thoroughly smacked down by takedown notices. All that remains are a few screenshots and a GIF: […]

  • Microsoft HoloLens designer killed in hit and run accident

    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]