Half-Life 2 made me not do it

There’s something just not right.

Here’s what effect researcher Craig Anderson writes:

…venting fails. Different terms have been used to describe this idea, but in the United States “venting” refers to things like hitting something or playing a violent video game to get your aggressive tendencies out in a relatively safe and socially approved way. This has been called the “catharsis hypothesis”, an idea that comes from the ancient Greeks, was brought into western civilisation by the writings of Freud, and is now a part of our culture. It is a beautiful idea, but it is not true: catharsis does not work. There was clear proof of this by the late 1960s, and catharsis is one of the most widely tested and discredited notions in all of psychology,
yet it continues to reappear in different guises again and again. An Australian government-sponsored report published in 2000, for example, quotes a socalled “video games expert” saying that some of these violent games might actually provide a catharsis-type effect. It is incorrect.

This seems familiar, it is a conclusion on the “catharsis hypothesis” often heard.
But something’s bugging me. If I were to look inwards and explain why I enjoy playing games one very large component is certainly a catharsis-like feeling. But maybe “the release of tension” is not on target. Maybe it’s more a bracketing of the outside world to engage with a predictable (if complex) system. Either find, gaming to me is really therapeutic (some games at least). And so it is that I’m wondering: If catharsis has been so repeatedly disproved, what label should then be used for that very specific anti-stress feeling of playing a good game…?

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