Dr. Guenther interviewed guests, Dr. Shawn Green and Terrell Grant about the positives and negatives with video gaming and how gaming is used to promote better ways of focusing and learning. Originally aired 01/30/2018

LEGAL ID: You’re listening to the voice of the University of Alabama. WVUA FM, Tuscaloosa.

DISCLAIMER: This show is not a substitute for professional counseling, and no relationship is created between the show host or guest and any listener. If you feel you are in need of any professional mental help and are a UA student, we encourage you to contact the UA Counseling Center at 348-3863. If you are not a UA student, please contact your respective county’s crisis service hotline, or their local mental health agency or insurance company. If it is an emergency situation, please call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.

Dr. Gunther: Hey, It’s 6:00, and time again for Brain Matters, the official radio show of the UA Counseling Center. We are broadcasting live from the WVUA FM studio 90.7 the capstone on the campus of the University of Alabama. Good evening, my name is Dr. BJ Gunther, and I’m the host of the show. In case you don’t know, this show is about mental and physical health issues that effect college students and in particular UA students. You can listen to us each Tuesday night live at 6:00 at 90.7 FM, or you can go online and listen to us at WVUAFM.UA.EDU, or you can download the Crimson White app and click on the 90.7 live streaming link.

As always, we’ll be taking questions via email, so if you have those, please email those to me at BrainMattersRadio@WVUAFM.edu, and of course I’ll be giving that out throughout the show and checking that email. Also, if you have any ideas for our upcoming shows throughout the spring semester, this is just our second show for this semester, email those to me, and of course I’ll consider using your idea.

Tonight’s topic is one that I had on the schedule last semester. I think I had to cancel for some reason, but I had a lot of people, when they found out what we were doing tonight, a lot of people were excited and really wanted to listen to the show, because many of our students here at UA and across the country are impacted by this, and so I think it will be a fun show tonight.

The title of the show is Gamers. The psychology of video games, and the impact on the people who play them. I have two guests tonight. Hopefully our second guest will show up in a few minutes. He’s scheduled to be on at 6:30 so we’ll watch out for him, but my first guest tonight is joining me on the phone from Madison, Wisconsin. Shawn Green is an associate professor in the department of psychology at the university of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his PHD in brain and cognitive sciences from the University of Rochester in 2008, and then completed a post doc fellowship in Machine learning and computer vision at the University of Minnesota before joining the faculty at Wisconsin in 2011. His research focuses on human learning, particularly in the design of training paradigms to improve human physical, human visual and cognitive skills. Wow, that’s a mouth full! Dr. Green, are you with us?

Shawn Green: I sure am.

Dr. Gunther: Thank you, thank you. That’s a long introduction, and it sounds extremely complicated. What is, I’m curious, what is machine learning and computer vision?

Shawn Green: From the perspective of someone who studies psychology, approaches to understanding how to analyze data, so how do we best model complex types of data? And so we use what’s called machine learning approaches. In essence, they’re fancy statistics, I would say.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah, well thanks for being on the show. Tell us a little about yourself. I read a little of your credentials, but how did you become interested in this topic and this type of research?

Shawn Green: Sure, so I have always been interested in the brain and how people learn. And the physiological underpinnings of learning, so how do changes in the brain produce changes in behavior. And so, as an undergraduate, I joined a lab that was doing research on the effects of congenital deafness on visual ability, so if you are born deaf, you don’t have auditory input going to the parts of the brain that are expecting auditory input, and so the question is, what does that part of the brain do in absence of the sensory stimulation, and are there impacts on visual perceptions? You can imagine that if you are without the sense of hearing, well maybe the visual system changes in some perhaps compensatory ways.

So I joined the lab that was focused on that, and as part of the research we started doing studies examining performance of undergraduates and we found that some segments of undergraduates were performing unexpectedly well. And when we went through their backgrounds, we found that the undergraduates that we saw that were performing unexpectedly well on these classic measures of visual abilities, were those that were playing certain types various fast paced video games.

This was in the late 90s, it was when we started to see really very fast paced video games and so we started to look at the impact of playing these fast paced video games on the brain and behavior.

Dr. Gunther: Well, the way that I found you was actually through an article that you were mentioned in. The title of the article is Cognitive benefits of playing video games. It’s from Psychology Today. And I think the year was 2015 that this article was released, or published, and we hear so much on the news and on social medias about video games and the negative aspects of video games, so it’s kind of enlightening to hear some cognitive benefits of playing video games. Can you talk about that a little?

Shawn Green: Sure, I think the first thing that’s really important when talking about these effects is that not all video games are created equal, so the analogy I like to use is the food. In the same way that there is no global, in general, no global effect of eating food on the body. So it depends on the type of food. The carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals, vitamins. The same thing is true of video games. Not all video games are the same. They are not the same in terms of dynamics, so how things progress through the game, mechanics, how you interact with them game. The content of games differs dramatically. And so because of that, the impact of games differs by game. And so the type of game that we studied in my lab that pertained to perception and cognition are what we call action video games.

This is a class of games that have lots of fast motion. They have many items to track simultaneously. They have what we would say, I real emphasis on peripheral processing, meaning that you have to monitor the full screen all at once, because important things often peak in at the edges. And so we’ve seen that playing this sub type of game, but not necessarily other types of games, improves a whole host of visual and cognitive abilities. So we’ve seen changes from what we would think of as very, very low level visual ability, so just your ability to distinguish different levels of lightness, or luminesce. All the way up through what we think of as pretty high level cognitive types of abilities, so you know, your ability to rapidly switch between competing tasks. All of these are positively impacted by playing this one type of video game that we call action video games.

Dr. Gunther: You know, I know this is going to come up eventually in our conversation, so I’m going to go ahead and go there. One of the articles I read in doing research for the show tonight, and I think I actually developed a question regarding this. You know, in recent months there’s been arguments about how playing video games can be addictive and of course, this is causing all kinds of moral panic and political pressure, but in one of the articles I read, the title of it is Psychologists rush, wait, excuse me. Psychologist says rush to patholotize, video game addiction is dangerous. And that article was written last year, in 2017 and I can’t see what the journal was from, but what’s your opinion on that?

From what the article said it argued against this, that video games are not addictive necessarily, because there’s really not much evidence to show otherwise. What’s your findings, or what have you learned?
Shawn Green: So I think some of these arguments come down to a question of, obviously there are what we call, I’m not trained classically as a psychologist. My PHD is in brain and cognitive sciences, but I’ve become somewhat versed in this topic. Obviously there is stigma associated with mental disorders. Diagnostically, it’s a fact. We worry about creating stigma around behaviors, and so I think people who are concerned with the rush to patholotize certain behaviors worry about that type of thing. People on the other side of that would say, ‘well there’s a subset of people that are suffering.’ To some extent the way clinical care works in the United States is, in many cases, in order to receive help, there needs to be a diagnosis. If there’s no diagnosis, there are practical considerations that come in-

Dr. Gunther: Basically a medical model, that’s basically what a medical model is, yeah.
Shawn Green: And so a whole host of these debates are of that nature. From my perspective, I’ve done work on this topic, again, trying to convince the community to not treat all video games as the same thing. In the same way it doesn’t really make any sense to ask whether drugs are addictive, right? Drugs are a category that includes everything from Tylenol to Methamphetamines. It’s not a well posed question to ask whether drugs are addictive.

The thing, again, it’s true of video games, we’ve done work int he lab to look at the extent to which certain types of games are more or less associated with what I might call problem gaming, video game addiction is a collective term. I’d say it’s unquestionably the case that there is a subset of individuals who play video games in such a way that it causes actual harm to their life. They will damage relationships, they’ll not do school work if they’re in school. They’ll suffer problems at work, they’ll spend money that they don’t have, they’ll do lots of the things that you might associate say with problem gambling, or gambling addiction. They’ll know that they play too much, but feel like they can’t stop, they’ll indicate that they feel restless when they do stop.

Where I think a lot of people kind of get confused, when we talked about problem gaming and video game addiction is that hours of playing, or the amount that you play doesn’t actually even typically show up, depending on the scale you use as a symptom. There are plenty of people who can play video games often, and they don’t suffer any negative consequences. They are not playing video games in such a way that they are damaging the relationship, they’re not playing game sin such a way that they are not going to school, they just like playing video games and it’s a hobby.

Dr. Gunther: Exactly, exactly. In this article it says something to that effect about the science is what’s bad, because the author in the article is basically using an analogy of when someone really likes to go to the library and read books, and they just can’t put down that book, are they addicted? They kind of compare it to something like that.

Shawn Green: Yeah, I think the actual science of it would indicate, that would say that person is not addicted to books. Unless, imagine that person goes to the library every single day because they’re reading theories they really love, and because of that, they stop going to work, they stop bathing they stop eating. They do these types of things that damages their real life. That’s when it would rise to the level of pathological conditions. It’s not, these aren’t just people who are playing video games as a hobby. These are people who are playing video games in such a way that they are really damaging their life, and it’s a very small segment of the population that shows that it’s not just your everyday college student who likes to play Call of Duty or likes to play League of Legends. It’s a small segment of people that are really playing games in such a way that their life is being damaged, and they feel loss of control. They know that they have a paper due tomorrow, but they feel like they have to keep playing this game. They’ve got levels that they have to achieve.

That’s when, for a clinician, they might think that it transitioned from a past time or a hobby to something that they might require some help for. I’d say the research is super new. In the DSM it’s still listed as a condition in need of further research. We need to know more about even simple things, like prevalence. We need to know more about things like what games are more or less associated with these types of behaviors. So I’d say there’s still a lot of work to do. I have no particular dog in this fight about whether or not it’s treated as a clinical disorder or not. I treat that as an insurance reimbursement thing as much as anything. But I’d say when it comes down, there’s definitely a very small subset of people that play this way, but it’s not your average person who just likes to play video games.

Dr. Gunther: Sure, sure.

Shawn Green: You know, what I tend to tell parents is, oh, my child loves to playing these video games. And I’ll say, ‘are they doing their homework?’ Are they still socializing with their friends? Do they still listen to you? Then they wouldn’t meet diagnostic criteria.

Dr. Gunther: Right, let me take a break for just a few minutes. If you stay on the line we’ll come back, I want to ask you, I’ve got some email questions that if you’re willing to take those. And then, I wanted to talk about children and teens and how the brain could possibly be getting rewired, so stay tuned. You’re listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 The Capstone.

DISCLAIMER: Is not a substitute for professional counseling and not relationship is created between the show host or guests and any listener. If you feel you are in any need of professional mental help and are a UA student, we encourage you to contact the UA Counseling Center at 348-3863. If you are not a UA student, please contact your respective county’s crisis service hotline, or their local mental health agency or insurance company. If it is an emergency situation, please call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.

Dr. Gunther: Hey, you’re back listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 the Capstone, and tonight we’re talking about video games and how they impact people who play them. My guest is a professor of psychology, that’s correct, right? Dr. Green?

Shawn Green: Correct.

Dr. Gunther: Professor of psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Shawn Green. And we left off talking about, well I wanted to ask you about, do video games affect the developing brains of children and teens?

Shawn Green: Yes, to the extent that all experience does, right? Who’s to say that developing brains are more susceptible to change via experience, you know, the technical term that we use is that they are more plastic. They are more capable, the brain is more capable of change early in life, then it becomes progressively less capable of large scale reorganization as we get older, so for sure. Young children and teens. If anything, the expectation would be that they would be more effected by video games, both positive and negative, then than adults. Although, again, this is an area of research that is still very young, so I’m not sure that evidence would say that’s true, but the theory would at least indicate that-

Dr. Gunther: Well, I talked to a colleague earlier today and she knew that you were coming on the show, and she knew what the topic of the show is for tonight and she was saying that the schools now, for the young children are advising parents to limit how long their child plays video games, and I had no idea that was happening, because I guess some parents just don’t know when to limit their child. I just felt like it was so I guess, very important to do that, to be able to limit that. You know?

Shawn Green: We tend to think that the best experience for a developing brain is variety of experience. You want lots of experience. I think that’s a perfectly sensible thing for parents to put restrictions on the amount of time. Whether there’s, I know for a while the American Pediatric Association had some number of hours, I don’t remember what it was. It’s probably in practice, not a one size fits all for all children, but some types of limits, I’d say for any activities are what you want. Especially developing children, you want mental stimulation, you want physical stimulation, you want different types of all of those. It seems perfectly rational to me to limit, to set some kind of thresh holds for those.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah, many of the articles that I’ve read talk about how instant gratification is gained while playing the video game, and it touches the neuro transmitter, I think the dopamine in your brain. One of our first email questions, actually asked that. Is the research, hold on. “Is there research to show that the same areas of the brain are used for sports as are for gaming?”

Shawn Green: I’m sorry, I missed the first part. Are used for what and also gaming?

Dr. Gunther: Sports.

Shawn Green: Oh, sports.

Dr. Gunther: As are for gaming. Uh-huh.

Shawn Green: It’s a distinction when the experiences overlap. So you’ll see, for instance, with certain types of very active sports, things like basketball or soccer, you’ll see some similar, say visual effects as you see from playing action video games. We don’t think it’s necessarily the fact that the video game, it’s really the experience that matters. So if you’re having an experience that puts a lot of demand on your peripheral vision, well, that’s the type of thing that might lead to some changes in peripheral vision, whether it’s an athletic competition or it’s a video game.

As to the question of dopamine, there is research. There’s lots of dopaminergic pathways, but there is one particular dopaminergic pathway that’s very important both for learning and for plasticity. It also tends to be the system that’s implicated in addiction. And so, that’s certainly a pathway that’s activated by video games, it’s reward processing. The extent to which, again depends on the video game, and this is something, there’s just not that much research on. By type of video game how does this work? Lots of people are still coming from the perspective that all video games are equivalent and it’s taken certain parts of the field time to shift to this idea that just because one video game activates the brain in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that they all do.

Dr. Gunther: Have you ever heard of the term game transfer phenomenon?

Shawn Green: Yes, so-

Dr. Gunther: What is that?

Shawn Green: So basically, game transfer phenomenon is I guess, the tendency to see in the real world and kind of have automatic processing when something in the real world matches something you’ve seen in a video game. So, Mark Griffith, who’s been doing really great research on video games for decades now, I believe he’s in Nottingham, in the UK, is someone I know who has looked at this phenomenon. If you play a video game for instance, and there are, let’s say there’s a video game where there are lots and lots of garage trucks, and they have a certain color scheme, and they have a certain shape, and any time you see a garbage truck, you have to do some type of behavior. Maybe you’re playing a game where you have to touch the garbage truck, I don’t know. If in the real life, you see a real one, game transfer phenomenon would be when you kind of have those automatic feelings. You see this garbage truck in the real life. You’ve been seeing it a bunch of times in the video game, where every time you see a garbage truck you have to touch it, game transfer phenomenon would be this automatic urge to touch it.

I know people will report having feelings, say with Tetris, and certainly Mark has done some research on this where you see geometric shapes playing Tetris, then you have these automatic associations when you see a similar ‘L’ piece, or you see a similar ‘T’ piece in the real world. So it’s this kind of tendency to create this automatic mapping between certain stimuli and video games and responses. Then you see the same stimuli in the real world, and you have the desire to do the same actions.

Fortunately, we have layers, and layers, and layers of cognitive control that by and large keep us from acting the same way in the real world as in a video game.

Dr. Gunther: Exactly, exactly!

Shawn Green: But often, you’ll realize that you have this automatic association, that you see this thing in the real world, that you’re used to seeing in a video game and, you at least have this little moment where you kind of feel that connection.

Dr. Gunther: Right, right. One more question, and it’s an email question. What’s your opinion about using gamification? And I don’t even know if that’s a word. Gamification, in a learning environment such as in an online course.

Shawn Green: So gamification is basically the idea of using what they might call game like principles, so you use certain types of reward structures, certain types of activities. A lot of it is actually from psychology, basically operate conditioning. You know you’re trying to reinforce certain types of behaviors. I would say that people have been interested in what you call gamifying behaviors, both in education in health they’ll bring some philosophy and insurance companies will try to gameify health behaviors, if you walk a certain number of steps, you get a certain number of points. You go to the doctor to get a wellness check up, you get some points. Education will do that, these little … They are basically educational games. In practice, it hasn’t been as successful as people initially thought that it would be, and part of it is just because there’s a mismatch between the reinforcers and what people want. They are not often reinforcers, so I’ve been called for instance, to consult for companies and they’ll say, ‘we’re having this problem, we’re offering our employees these reinforcements, but it’s not shifting their behavior.’ To which I would say, ‘Well, the technical definition of a reinforcer is something that increases the behavior, so you’re not actually giving them reinforcement, you’re giving them something they don’t want, unless they’re not changing their behavior.’

And so I tend to find that’s often the case in gamified education, you’re working towards little stars, or these things that people just don’t treat as reinforcements. And so it doesn’t lead to the behavioral shift that you might want it to be.

Dr. Gunther: Expect.

Shawn Green: You know, that’s kind of the difficulty. Video games do a really good job of creating this set up where you want to do these actions, because you want what the actions will give you, that is to act like real reinforcers. When you try to gameify things, often you’re like, alright, you don’t want to do this behavior, but I’ll give you a old star for it, or I’ll give you these 10 arbitrary points, and it just in practice, has not had the success that people hoped that it wold, but it’s often just not necessarily implemented in the best possible way, so I would say it’s theoretically a really good idea, but it’s not always been instantiated in the best ways.

Dr. Gunther: Well thank you so much for being on the show, this has been so interesting. We’ve got another guest coming on after the break, but I really appreciate you being on the show and taking the time out to call in and answer some of my difficult questions. They seemed difficult to me, but thank you so much, and for those of you listening, we’re going to take a break right now, we’ll be back with Terrell Grant, he’s a UA student who is president of the gaming network ABXY club here on campus, so I’m excited to talk to him. Come back and listen to us, you’re listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 the Capstone.

DISCLAIMER: This show is not a substitute for professional counseling and no relationship is created between the show host or guest and any listener. If you feel you are in need of professional mental help, and are a UA student, we encourage you to contact the UA Counseling Center at 348-3863. If you are not a UA student, please contact your respective county’s crisis service hotline or their local mental health agency or insurance company. If it is an emergency situation, please call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.

Dr. Gunther: Hey, your back listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 The Capstone. I’m Dr. BJ Gunther and we’re talking tonight about video games and how they impact individuals who play those games. My second guest tonight is Terrell Grant. Terrell is the president of the ABXY Gaming Network, it’s a club here on the campus of the University of Alabama. I have no idea what it stands for, but thank you for being on the show tonight.

Terrell Grant: Oh, thank you for having me.

Dr. Gunther: Tell the listeners a little about yourself. Where are you from? What year are you? What’s your major?

Terrell Grant: Well I’m from Prince George, Virginia. It’s a bit in Southern Virginia near Richmond. I’m a public relations major with a minor in psychology.

Dr. Gunther: No!

Terrell Grant: Yes!

Dr. Gunther: Okay, you could help me co-host the show sometimes.

Terrell Grant: And I’m a junior right now.

Dr. Gunther: How did you, obviously in your generation, you’ve probably been playing video games for all your life I would estimate. How’d you become the president, first of all, what does ABXY stand for?

Terrell Grant: ABXY, each letter corresponds with a different button on a game control pad.

Dr. Gunther: Can you tell I don’t play video games?

Terrell Grant: No, no, it’s-

Dr. Gunther: I wouldn’t know that.

Terrell Grant: I’ve had people play video games all their life didn’t get it.

Dr. Gunther: So how long has the club been in existence? Because Honestly, until I started doing research for the show I had no idea, some of the other counselors I’ve talked to about the show tonight, they have known about the gaming club, because they’ve had other students mention that, or they’re involved. How long has it been around, do you know?

Terrell Grant: Way before my time, I think maybe seven, eight, nine, years ago.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah. What do you all do? Do you meet once a week? Do you just play games, or do you talk about new games? Am I getting up into your business too much?

Terrell Grant: Oh no, that’s no problem. The purpose of ABXY the way I see it, is to be a place where anybody who wants to play a game, but doesn’t have anybody to play it with, they can come to ABXY and find a community of different people who share their interests, their likes and they can just play, because there are a lot of games out there for more than one person, and if you don’t have anybody to play it with, especially if you’re new, there’s just not a lot-

Dr. Gunther: It’s not as much fun, that’s right.

Terrell Grant: Exactly.

Dr. Gunther: It’s always less fun. Were you able to hear some of my interview with Dr. Green?

Terrell Grant: A little of it.

Dr. Gunther: What’s your opinion on how much someone should play a video game? What’s the longest you’ve ever played a video game in a day?

Terrell Grant: In a day.

Dr. Gunther: In a day, it’s okay.

Terrell Grant: It’s kind of two different sides to that question. In the first would be I guess as a college student who has a part-time job, I would say on a day where I work and study, maybe three hours. A little before bedtime. On the weekends on during big breaks, like summer or winter-

Dr. Gunther: When you’re free.

Terrell Grant: When I’m free, honestly, I woke up one day at 10:00 and didn’t stop playing until 1:00.

Dr. Gunther: Stop it.

Terrell Grant: It’s okay.

Dr. Gunther: Can I read you something that’s going to scare you?

Terrell Grant: Oh, my!

Dr. Gunther: No, it won’t scare you. This is from an article that I was researching for the show tonight so I at least could appear to look like I know what I’m talking about, even though I don’t play video games. The article is called Game Theory, and it’s from Neurology Now, the journal, and it was written in 2014. And it talks about this kid, 17 years old who basically was all that and a bag of chips on World of War Craft, but everything else in his real life was bad. And so he said, I never saw my real friends. I gained weight, became lazy, and spent nearly all of my time slumped over my computer.’ This is from him, he said he played up to 18 hours every day for nearly two years. And interestingly enough, he made a documentary film on You Tube, if anybody listening is interested. It’s called IRL, In Real Life. It’s about seven minutes long, I watched it today, it’s so interesting. It basically talks about how he created a character in World of War Craft, but then how it over took his life and how he had to get his life back. It was very interesting for seven minutes.

The email question that I wanted to ask you, we got another email question, do you feel that, what do you feel is an acceptable amount of time per day for a college student to play video games? Is that setting you up?

Terrell Grant: Oh, that’s not setting me up at all. I’ve give it thought before. I don’t want to start an answer like this, but I think it depends.

Dr. Gunther: Maybe.

Terrell Grant: If you have a lot of free time, and you just don’t have any interests, clubs or volunteer works, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with devoting-

Dr. Gunther: 18 hours?

Terrell Grant: Maybe once a week, a week. And that’s generous. I don’t think outside of special circumstances I’ve ever played that long, like when I told you I was an outlier. 18 hours a day, that’s a bit-

Dr. Gunther: What do you think most kids are playing? How long do you think most kids that you know are playing a day? Is it more than six? Less than six? I’m just going with six.
Terrell Grant: Well most of the students I know are busy. I think that it’s more of a weekly basis of six hours as opposed to a daily basis, because there’s just no time.

Dr. Gunther: That sounds better to me, just hearing that, because I talked with Dr. Green just for a little about addiction, does it become an addiction? This year they have come out, the powers who rule, the psychology universe with the Dsm and the ICD, which is, you can look that up if you’re listening, but it’s how we diagnose or how those of us in the mental health profession give a diagnostic impression, but they have announced that there is now a gaming disorder, and a lot of people in psychology are very angry at this and disagreed with this, because it’s kind of like how do you, there’s not a lot of research on it as Dr. Green said, and there’s not a lot of evidence, and how do you put an addiction in a hobby category? That’s the way I’m going to word it. What do you think?

Terrell Grant: I think that people who have naturally addictive personalities, they fall into that category of a video game disorder. On account of the fact that some games are designed to attract those kinds of people. Like a game that has a lottery system, or something called a loop box system where you pay money, and you don’t know what you’re going to get, but you might get something. It might be good, it might be bad, it attracts the kind of people who spend a lot of time trying to get to the next high of achievement.

Dr. Gunther: It’s a rush.

Terrell Grant: It’s a rush, absolutely a rush.

Dr. Gunther: What are some of the positive ways video games have impacted your life, or could impact the student’s life?

Terrell Grant: I know for a fact I wouldn’t have the friends I have now without video games.

Dr. Gunther: Oh, so social.

Terrell Grant: Absolutely, when I first got here as a freshman from Virginia State, away from home, family, friends, I was lost here. And then I saw a flyer for a group of people who were going to meet up to play a video game, and I decided to check that out, and until he left last year, I had met my best friend there, and the friends I have now, I met them at a video game club, just because we all shared the same passions-

Dr. Gunther: The same interests. Yeah, and you know, I would have thought the opposite, because in my mind, I picture kids playing video games alone in their room, I mean literally, I have had to go before, not necessarily for someone who’s playing a video game all day, but I’ve had to go get kids out of their rooms who have isolated themselves. You know? So I’m a little surprised to hear you alk about the social aspect of it. You know, that’s really cool.

Terrell Grant: I can understand that. There’s some, again I think it depends on the person, because there are some people who don’t want to interact with others.

Dr. Gunther: That’s right.

Terrell Grant: There are other people who want to make friends and be social, but people just don’t share their interests.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah, and I think some people who maybe, how do I say this? Maybe some of their traits would be to be shy or inferior even, or have some low self esteem, and they’re going to gravitate toward playing video games.

Terrell Grant: Naturally introverted people.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah, yeah. So counter to that, what do you think are some of the negative, besides taking way too much time I guess, and not getting school work done. You work, if you started missing work to play video games, that would be a problem!

Terrell Grant: That would be a problem.

Dr. Gunther: That’s serious. So what do you think are some of the other negative effects that you can think of?

Terrell Grant: I think one negative effect that would impact a lot of people is the fact that games are getting a bit more expensive to maintain as a hobby.

Dr. Gunther: How much? I have no idea.

Terrell Grant: I can’t account for inflation, because I don’t know nearly enough about math.

Dr. Gunther: This new game Fortnight, have you heard of it?

Terrell Grant: I’ve heard of Fortnight, yes.

Dr. Gunther: How much?

Terrell Grant: The base version of it is actually free to play.

Dr. Gunther: Okay, but some of the others like that, how much would it be?

Terrell Grant: Depending on the game you buy, it could range from $30 to $60, but a lot of games like Fortnight are free, which is why they attract so many people. And then, there’s the-

Dr. Gunther: Are they as good as the paid for games?

Terrell Grant: Some people would say yes. The fact that-

Dr. Gunther: Just curious.

Terrell Grant: Just getting that amount of enjoyment from a free title. Some games, you have to buy things like micro phones and different controllers, and maybe a new system if you want to play it.

Dr. Gunther: Equipment.

Terrell Grant: Equipment.

Dr. Gunther: Like we’re on right now.

Terrell Grant: Exactly.

Dr. Gunther: Wow, it can get up.

Terrell Grant: It can get up there.

Dr. Gunther: That’s why you’re working isn’t it? That’s really it.

Terrell Grant: Fuel the habit.

Dr. Gunther: So that’s a big negative, you’re right, it is expensive, and I have had kids before say I’m saving up money to pay for … One of them came out a couple years ago, it started with an ‘F’ and I can’t remember it, and I’m embarrassed to say, but he waited on that game, and he came back next week, he’s like, ‘I bought the game!’ Just so excited about it.

Did you hear myself and Dr. Green talk about … Maybe I’ll take a break and we’ll come back and talk about this, but the last question I think I had for him was about using games for classes, so hold that thought and we’ll be right back. I think we’re supposed to take a break right now, and then we’ll be back for our last segment, so stay tuned. You’re listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 The Capstone.

DISCLAIMER: This show is not a substitute for professional counseling, and no relationship is created between the show host or guests and any listener. If you feel you are in need of professional mental help and are a UA student, we encourage you to contact the UA Counseling Center at 348-3863. If you are not a UA student, please contact your respective county’s crisis service hotline or their local mental health agency or insurance company. If it is an emergency situation, please call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.

Dr. Gunther: Hey, you’re listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 The Capstone. Tonight we are talking about video games, and how they can impact you or someone you know. And I’ve got Terrell Grant, he is the president of the ABXY gaming Network Club here on campus. He is also a junior majoring in public relations, and is from Prince George, Virginia.

We were just talking about that a little at the break, because I vacation in Williamsburg, which is somewhat close to there.

Terrell Grant: A little bit.

Dr. Gunther: Before the break, I wanted to ask you, have you ever taken, Dr Green and I were talking about the gamification of classes. Have you ever taken a class that used video games in the class work?
Terrell Grant: Real video games, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a class that’s incorporated it into the lesson, no.

Dr. Gunther: I guess, do they exist here? Have we ever, would you know that? I don’t know if you would. Maybe some of your members of the club might be, developing that?

Terrell Grant: I know some professors are thinking of a way to incorporate video games and different ways to stream them, and incorporate them into their lessons. They’re trying to put them into their class work.

Dr. Gunther: I think that would be neat and innovative. I’m sure other universities are doing that. I’ve had students before who wanted to work in the gaming industry. I can remember one student, one of my favorite students, she actually wanted to write the music.

Terrell Grant: Oh yeah?

Dr. Gunther: Yeah! Which would be cool if you think about it, because most video game’s music is amazing. I mean, the one’s I’ve seen on TV, because I don’t know how to play. Okay, another email question. You may or may not be able to answer this, but I think you can. Do you feel that gaming is an outlet for aggression, or can create aggression? Like screaming at the TV, throwing things, remote control. You know, that kind of stuff?

Terrell Grant: I think that there are some games that are designed to help relieve aggression. They are designed to give you a bit of a pick me up. An easy win at the end of the day, because I feel that there are many games that require focus and calmness, because if you’re aggressive going in, you’re just going to compound that aggressiveness, because you’re going to mess up and lose over and over again.

Dr. Gunther: Yes, and that’s another question. Has video games helped you with failure?

Terrell Grant: I would say yes.

Dr. Gunther: I mean, you’re not a failure, but we all fail, you know what I mean?

Terrell Grant: Absolutely. There are some games in my past that I’ve played, that I just blame everybody else for what happened. My system, my TV, my controller, the car honking outside the window, just everybody else.

Dr. Gunther: Distractions, yes.

Terrell Grant: But eventually, as I got older and started playing different games, I started to be able to look at myself and say I made that mistake. I have to correct that, and if I correct it, everything will be alright. Or some things just happen out of my control, it’s like, Oh well. What am I going to do about that?

Dr. Gunther: Right. Have you been able to transfer that into your real life?

Terrell Grant: I would say so. I would say that it’s helped me to roll with the punches as it were. I’m able to get past set backs and obstacles a little easier because I’m used to it, because my past times involve it.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah, and I’m sure you mature. You’re obviously probably playing, well maybe you aren’t. Playing different video games then you played in 10th grade, so you’ve evolved, and with that, you’ve matured in how you can handle the outcomes of the games. You know? Do you ever play several video games at one time? Can you do that?

Terrell Grant: Multiple video games at once, it really depends, like there’s a genre game, it’s turn based strategy where everything doesn’t happen until you stop and make it happen, and if I’m just really lagging along at something else, like waiting to find a match, I’ll turn that on and get a few rounds in. And the, I can stop, and it won’t affect the gaming, and I can go back to the other game I’m playing.

Dr. Gunther: Pause.

Terrell Grant: Yes.

Dr. Gunther: What are some of the most popular video games amongst college students right now?

Terrell Grant: College students right now, I would say Overwatch is one of them.

Dr. Gunther: Yes, yes. I’ve heard students talk about Overwatch.

Terrell Grant: Huge, huge game that anybody can play.

Dr. Gunther: Is it more fantasy, or is it more combat? I guess you could say, I don’t know what you’d call it, but fantasy, sci-fi?

Terrell Grant: It’s a first person shooter that is very reliant on team based combat. You have to have a good team to play it well.

Dr. Gunther: So, Overwatch. Name some more.

Terrell Grant: League of Legends, that’s-

Dr. Gunther: Okay, that’s pretty old, isn’t it? That’s been around, hasn’t it?

Terrell Grant: That’s been around for a while. It’s one of, like you said, a fantasy game. It’s absolutely a team based game, where again, you have to work with your team, otherwise you’re not going to succeed in anything.

Dr. Gunther: Is World of War Craft still in?

Terrell Grant: World of War Craft, I’d say has fallen off a bit to the wayside. Due to the fact there are so many other options, and ways to play with friends online. I wouldn’t say it’s just gone form the scene, but it’s definitely less popular that it was.

Dr. Gunther: Is there, you may or may not know this, is there a comparison in your group between males and females? Are there more males in the
ABXY group? Than there are females? I mean, I would guess there would be, but I don’t necessarily think that females, do females, the girls play less video games than guys? I don’t know if you can answer that.

Terrell Grant: In the club I wouldn’t say that. I would say if there’s a girl in the club, she’s playing as many video games as one of the guys who plays video games. At least not, they’re playing as much as a regular person. Not as much as one of the really high level players.

Dr. Gunther: Serious.

Terrell Grant: Yeah. The ones that are really living and breathing that game.

Dr. Gunther: I just thought about that, because I don’t have a lot of girls, women, who I see for counseling who mention that, even as a coping mechanism or even just as a hobby. You know, I talk more about it with guys. Can you think of any more games that are right up there?

Terrell Grant: I mentioned Overwatch, League of Legends. Pub G, player Unknown, battle grounds, that is taking off.

Dr. Gunther: Is it new?

Terrell Grant: It’s pretty new. I think it came out within the last year. It’s not officially out yet, but people are playing the beta, the demo version a lot. People love it.

Dr. Gunther: So it’s not free.

Terrell Grant: I believe right now it is free.

Dr. Gunther: Because it’s a demo.

Terrell Grant: Yes.

Dr. Gunther: Okay. I don’t know if we have on WVUA, I don’t know if we have a radio show devoted to talking about video games. I think that would be a really cool radio show.

Terrell Grant: Oh really?

Dr. Gunther: Maybe it’s something you should consider, because I think there are enough students out there who would love to talk about this, and maybe even want to call into the station and want to talk about it.

Terrell Grant: Perhaps.

Dr. Gunther: Just putting it in your head, Terrell. What about, let me see if there are any more questions. How often do you all meet?

Terrell Grant: ABXY meets every week in the Ferguson Center, on Wednesday at 6PM to 10PM.

Dr. Gunther: Wow, four hours!

Terrell Grant: Yes, that is the day where we don’t play video games, we play table top games. Like-

Dr. Gunther: What are those? I’m kidding!

Terrell Grant: Yeah, for the people who don’t know, it’s like board games.

Dr. Gunther: Are we talking like ping pong?

Terrell Grant: No, not ping pong-

Dr. Gunther: Okay, when you say table top, I’m from 100 years ago!

Terrell Grant: Right, it’s like board games and card games. People even sometimes play Dungeons and Dragons there, just-

Dr. Gunther: People still play D&D?

Terrell Grant: People absolutely still play that.

Dr. Gunther: Oh my God. That was the sign of the devil in the 80s. You know that, right?

Terrell Grant: I’ve seen a video about a church going against D&D.

Dr. Gunther: I’m telling you the truth! What about the, what types of games do you play? Do you play cards?

Terrell Grant: I used to, that’s fallen off for me, but there’s still lot’s of people who play it.

Dr. Gunther: So really, it’s just kind of like hanging out with a lot of people who have a lot of stuff in common with you, you know?

Terrell Grant: Absolutely.

Dr. Gunther: That sounds fun. Did you say it’s once a week every Wednesday from 6:00 to 10:00 at the Ferg?

Terrell Grant: Yes, in the Ferguson Center lounge area.

Dr. Gunther: Okay.

Terrell Grant: And then every other week, we’ll meet at the Riverside Community Center and we will have actual video games there-

Dr. Gunther: So you have the equipment there?

Terrell Grant: Yes.

Dr. Gunther: How many people are in the club right now?

Terrell Grant: I would say currently we have a few dozen.

Dr. Gunther: Wow. Who consistently come?

Terrell Grant: The people who come is probably one dozen, on account of the fact that people get busy, they can’t make it out every single time.

Dr. Gunther: Does it cost anything?

Terrell Grant: We do have dues, but they’re optional. And if you just want to join and show up and hang out, perfectly free.

Dr. Gunther: That’s cool. How much are the dues?

Terrell Grant: I believe the dues are $10 for a semester and $20 for a whole year.

Dr. Gunther: Is that to play?

Terrell Grant: Oh no, no. You can show up and play any game you want for free. The dues are optional for different benefits later on.

Dr. Gunther: One more question, do you ever go to the national, you know, like Comic Con? Is there a national conference meeting for gamers?

Terrell Grant: I would say there are several different conventions, that people who are enthusiastic about games go to. I think one that’s passed recently is Mag-Fest. That was a pretty big video game convention that happened I think last month, or this month a few weeks ago. And then there’s a convention that is hosted by a club on campus, called Comic Con. That happened last weekend. This past weekend.

Dr. Gunther: Wow, we just missed it!

Terrell Grant: You just missed it.

Dr. Gunther: And it was here on campus?

Terrell Grant: It wasn’t on campus, it was in Birmingham.

Dr. Gunther: Oh, in Birmingham. Did you go?

Terrell Grant: I did not go this year.

Dr. Gunther: I wonder how many people were there, like thousands?

Terrell Grant: From what I see from their pre-ticket sales, or pre-registration, like 4000.

Dr. Gunther: Yeah, wow! That’s huge for that kind of a conference. It’s based in Birmingham?

Terrell Grant: Absolutely.

Dr. Gunther: Hey, thanks for being on the show, this has been fun.

Terrell Grant: Thank you for having me. This has been very interesting.

Dr. Gunther: You should really consider a radio show, because that would be neat, if there’s not already one on the air, and I don’t think there is. We might have had one in the past, but I’m just not sure right now, but that would be a good topic, I think. Anyway, thanks so much.

Let me make a few announcements before we leave the air. This show always announces every week, this show is recorded and pod casted and I will, when it’s edited, it will go up on the audoboom.com website. You can also go to the Counseling Center website on couseling.ua.edu, and it has a link to Audioboom. If you want to listen to this show or some of our past shows, I want to make a few announcements about some events that we have coming up in February. The second and the third week in February. Information packets about common mental health concerns, and available resources will be placed on all the doors of all the dormitories, so be looking for those.

On February the 25th, is the spring suicide awareness walk, from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M., and the walk will start at the Counseling Center, and it
will conclude at the Walk of Champions, so if you’re able, come and help us raise awareness and learn more about suicide prevention and the resources available on campus.

And finally, on February the 27th from 6:00 to 8:00Pm in The Ferg, join the Counseling Center and university programs for an event focused on body appreciation, and body positivity. Come eat some snacks and participate in interactive crafts and learn strategies to foster an appreciation for the skin you’re in. And that’s part of eating disorders awareness month, I believe. So if you’re able to do any of those, it’s fun. Just come out, it’s always fun to get free food!

As always, I want to thank the people who have made this show possible, Dr. Lee Keyes, he’s our executive director at the Counseling Center. Terry Siggers at the office of student media, my production assistant Katherine Howell, who’s out with the flue tonight. Lizzy Zeman did a great job on the board tonight, and Caroline Harris, always there for me. My colleagues at the Counseling Center, the WVUA staff, and of course, my guests tonight Dr. Shawn Green, and Terrell Grant.

Join us next week when we discuss conquering irrational thoughts.

So thanks again for listening to Brain Matters on 90.7 The Capstone. Hounds tooth and hard hats is coming up next, hopefully!

DISCLAIMER: This show is not intended as a substitute for professional counseling. Further, the views, opinions and conclusions expressed by by the show host or their guest and any listener. If you feel you are in need of any professional mental help and are a UA student, we encourage you to contact the UA Counseling Center at 348-3863. If you are not a UA student, please contact your respective county’s crisis service hotline, or their local mental health agency or insurance company. If it is an emergency situation, please call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.