Violent video gamers see world differently

New research suggest players of violent video games may be more immune to disturbing events.
New research suggest players of violent video games may be more immune to disturbing events.

While it's still unclear whether playing violent video games causes violent behaviour, a team of Aussie psychologists has discovered that people who play them can see the world around them differently.

They have found that those with a penchant for bloodthirsty video games are more immune to disturbing images than those who don't play such games.

The psychologists showed 92 university students a rapid series of images and told them to watch out for a target.

In some cases when a violent or disturbing image flashed up just before the target, the students who played violent video games were less affected by the distraction.

The findings raise important questions about the links between exposure to violent images and differences in perception, said one of the study's authors Dr Steve Most, a cognitive psychologist from the University of NSW.

"Something like this suggests that it's possible for two people who witness the same event to not only just remember it differently, they might even see it differently," he told AAP.

"There can be two different witnesses to an accident, which is a pretty traumatic thing to witness with some people.

"The presence of that graphic information might impair them from seeing other things to report to the police, whereas others may still notice important details."

It's a condition psychologists call "emotion-induced blindness".

For people who play violent video games, that "blindness" means they are less likely to have their perception of a scenario disrupted by graphic information.

While the psychologists can't say for sure if it's playing violent video games that causes the condition, Dr Most and his team intend to dig deeper as the findings raise some intriguing possibilities for people like emergency workers.

"One limitation of comparing people who play a lot of violent video games to those who don't is that the two groups may also be characterised by other differences such as personality, which led them to pursue different types of entertainment in the first place," Dr Most said.

"But it's certainly a fascinating idea that if you're an emergency first responder and you know you'll be called out to some graphic scenes, that watching violent video games might help you become immune to their impact."

The study's findings were published in the journal Visual Cognition on Friday.

Australian Associated Press