A few weeks ago, a British driving school released a study it claimed showed an "indisputable" link between driving video games and dangerous real-world driving. Of course, the link was anything but indisputable, since it was based on a survey of people saying they thought they were more or less likely to behave a particular way after playing a driving game -- hardly a conclusive, objective form of evidence. Now, another study from some German psychologists says that gamers who play driving games are more likely to drive aggressively (via Wired) and have accidents than non-gamers. The link here is even more tenuous, mostly because it implies some causality that the games make people aggressive drivers, rather than considering if people who are aggressive drivers to begin with are more likely to play driving games often than cautious drivers. But it gets better: they say that men who played "even one" racing game were more likely to take risks in some sort of (presumably more "realistic") driving simulator afterwards than men who played some other type of game. Just going out on a limb here, but they had people play a video game on a PS2 then essentially play a game on a different type of game machine, so it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to think they might keep driving more aggressively than in real life. In any case, taking some risks on a simulator still doesn't mean they're going to go out in a real car and drive the same way. They know it's a simulator, they know there's no chance of hurting themselves or anybody else -- the point being, it's not a real environment, so it's unreasonable to expect them to behave in exactly the same way. It gets better still: they also asked 83 more men to play either a racing game or a different type of game, and those who played the driving game "reported more thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking than the others". You think that maybe that's because they were playing a game that requires that sort of in-game behavior to succeed? They also cite previous research "linking" first-person shooter games to aggressive behavior, but it too didn't make the connection between aggressive in-game behavior and aggressive or violent behavior outside the game. The only thing all of these studies supposedly proving that video games cause undesirable behavior have in common is that they don't hold up under even the lightest scrutiny. Furthermore, they also seem to ignore as these sorts of video games have become more popular, youth violence has actually decreased.
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