The topic I find interesting and suitable for an investigation is gaming and its influence on human psychology and gamer’s personality. I chose it because I like playing video games too (although I am not an experienced gamer, and games are not my primary form of entertainment). I have noticed that gaming can influence one’s personality, for example, make them more aggressive or more logical, less attentive, or less stable. The debates about gaming often revolve around the problem of whether they can develop some skills or if they only lead to addiction (Kardefelt-Winther 118).
Some researchers point out that gaming can improve cognitive skills or positively influence working memory (Colzato et al. 234). Others argue that specific psychological characteristics can be linked to or worsened by video games (Kardefelt-Winther 118). Personally, I encountered two polar opinions on the topic, which formed my knowledge about it: games can be perceived as too addictive and often meaningless or as useful tools that can improve cognitive skills. From my personal experience, I noticed that attention and logical thinking are indeed enhanced by games, but online gaming can make a person more aggressive and irritated. It remains unclear to me how games influence one’s personality and psychological state and whether they can indeed cause addiction.
Consider Your Scholarly Lens
I chose psychology as the scholarly lens for this topic because I aim to investigate the impact of games on human behavior and personality. Psychology can help me understand whether games are a simple form of entertainment or a serious tool that can alter our self-perception and behavior. The research on the discipline will show how complex human behavior is, how it is influenced, and what factors can trigger addiction or alterations in personality. I do not know if psychology has extensively researched video gaming and whether psychology and psychiatry can be considered as different parts of a bigger discipline about human behavior.
Initial Topic Research
I decided to use Google Scholar because it allows browsing articles by the year and with the help of keywords. I did not use either Google search engine or Wikipedia for this topic because the information there can be one-sided (e.g. present gaming as either positive or negative activity). Surprisingly, when I used the keywords “gaming and self-perception,” the articles from Google Scholar mostly focused on the negative consequences of gaming. For example, Yoon and Vargas (“Know Thy Avatar”) found that when players picked a heroic avatar, they were more likely to share chocolate with other participants than when they chose a villainous character (1044).
Another article that I found (“The Association between Online Gaming, Social Phobia, and Depression”) pointed out that hours spent on video gaming are related to depression and anxiety levels in gamers (Wei et al. 92). At the same time, when I used “gaming and cognitive skills” as keywords, the shown articles mostly related to the positive influence of games, e.g. their ability to improve multitasking skills, memory, attention span, etc. Thus, gaming’s impact on gamers is apparently twofold: it can negatively influence one’s personality but improve some cognitive skills. I believe that the effect of gaming on both personality and cognition is a topic worth investigating. It remains unclear to me how gaming can lead to depression and improve cognition at the same time.
Initial Academic Discipline Research
So far, I found that “psychology” is a broader umbrella term that is used for a variety of other psychologies, for example, social psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, Gestalt psychology, etc. I believe that social and cognitive psychology will be suitable for my narrowed topic. I used Google Scholar as the primary database for my research; I chose “articles published since 2012” to find new articles and used various keywords such as “psychology”, “psychology behavior”, “psychology cognition”.
Psychology studies human personality, behavior, thinking skills, as well as human interactions and the influence of various factors on human behavior and decisions. Modern psychology is interested in researching online interaction and behavior and their reciprocal influence that is fostered by multiple social media platforms (Guadagno et al. 642). The researchers are interested in self-presentation of online users and the gender differences, as well as their impact on one’s behavior in social media (Guadagno et al. 643). It appears to me that online media and online behavior are among the main issues studied by modern psychology.
One article that I found particularly interesting is “Macbeth and the Joystick: Evidence for Moral Cleansing after Playing a Violent Video Game” written by Gollwitzer and Melzer (1356). I used Google Scholar to find it. I found it useful because I have never thought about the influence of moral decisions on gamers, although I have experienced them. For example, I felt guilty if I accidentally hurt or killed a character. The identified study will help me understand how gaming influences our moral values and decisions and whether violence in games can indeed cause moral distress in players. Psychology as a lens will also help me find out whether gamers’ self-perception is affected by the immersion in the word of video gaming.
Colzato, Lorenza S., et al. “Action Video Gaming and Cognitive Control: Playing First Person Shooter Games Is Associated with Improvement in Working Memory but Not Action Inhibition.” Psychological Research, vol. 77, no. 2, 2013, pp. 234-239.
Gollwitzer, Mario, and André Melzer. “Macbeth and the Joystick: Evidence for Moral Cleansing after Playing a Violent Video Game.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 48, no. 6, 2012, pp. 1356-1360.
Guadagno, Rosanna E., et al. “Dating Deception: Gender, Online Dating, and Exaggerated Self-Presentation.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 28, no. 2, 2012, pp. 642-647.
Kardefelt-Winther, Daniel. “Problematizing Excessive Online Gaming and Its Psychological Predictors.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 31, no. 1, 2014, pp. 118-122.
Wei, Han-Ting, et al. “The Association between Online Gaming, Social Phobia, and Depression: An Internet Survey.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 12, no. 1, 2012, pp 92-106.
Yoon, Gunwoo, and Patrick T. Vargas. “Know Thy Avatar: The Unintended Effect of Virtual-Self Representation on Behavior.” Psychological Science, vol. 25, no. 4, 2014, pp. 1043-1045.