by Carlo Longino

Researchers "Link" Violent Video Games To Aggression

from the dr-bunsen-and-beaker dept

Somebody call Jack Thompson: researchers from Michigan State say that violent video games cause brain activity characteristic of agression -- or at least it did in 11 young German video gamers they tested. The study looked at the effects of a first-person shooter game on 13 German males between the ages of 18 and 26 that play an average of 15 hours of games a week -- hardly a comprehensive sample, and one made up of subjects that are probably already somewhat aggressively minded. But aggressive thoughts directed at the game itself -- what some might call being engaged by it -- aren't harmful. It's a question of acting on aggressive thoughts outside the game, something the study doesn't touch on. It misses the point: while video games may cause feelings of aggression while they're being played, it's what happens to those feelings afterwards that can become problematic. It seems like most of the instances of violence blamed on video games happen after kids play, not during.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. identicon
    jszpila, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 2:39pm

    No Subject Given

    i would like to see a study like this that substitutes sports in the place of videogames. I'm sure the researchers would somehow manage to be surprised that aggression rises during a football game.

    i can safely say that videogames have given me an outlet and prevented me from having any aggressive outburts in real life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 2:49pm

    No Subject Given

    Is it not an animals' instinctual urge to want to cause harm to others or use force to "make it to the top?"

    I think it is; even if we don't want to admit it. It's our INTELLIGENCE that seperates us from wild animals. The fact that we KNOW causing harm to others is wrong and we should be going against any such thoughts or using ANY means necessary to avoid committing horrible acts.

    If this really is the case, isn't it better to release your suppressed violence and rage of the real world in an imaginary one? Aren't these people doing the world a favor by releasing their anger in a NON-VIOLENT imaginary way??? Would we rather have them bottle up all their rage until they EXPLODE IN A FURY OF REAL VIOLENCE because they can't hold it in anymore.

    Yes, these kids were violent while playing games. We all get pissed off when we play sometimes. That's part of the rush and fun of it. Because when it's over, we think, "wow, that was pointless reason to be angry" and then laugh about it.

    But where is the report showing how violent these people are on a regular basis? Where's the report showing how much more violent kids are that NEVER play video games?

    If you are a male between the ages of 15-25 and you aren't physically active, you don't play video games, you are drug free, and you don't get laid regularly, then YOU ARE A VIOLENT MAN.

    And if you're not, you are a rare male...

    All of the above mentioned items suppress violence, not encourage it. Funny how most of these things are trying to be stopped or hidden from us...

    Censoring = Evil

    Am I wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Stoned4Life, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 3:36pm


    This mainly falls under the category of people who believe in fate- mostly because they don't want to believe they are responsible for their own actions. If we start blaming our actions on videogames, we might as well blame it on music, radio, magazines, etc. etc.

    IF it's decided that violence triggers rage, what about people who are enraged by commercials? You're watching a great movie on Tv, and boom, commercial!

    If videogames are responsible for violent actions, it will set a precedent where life itself could be blamed for what we do.

    Imaging your best friend being viciously murdered and it is ruled that it was becuase he played some fps's earlier that day. Could he walk free?

    Scary thought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Alex, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 3:51pm

    What if...

    What if the rise in aggresivness is tied to the fact that the game they used is BEYOND frustrating to control and play. I have heard plenty of bad things about this game, and this just corroborates them.

    And not to mention the fact that if they were playing against other players, only the winning person would not be aggrivated more than normal. Everyone else would be mad for losing.

    Just some thoughts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    vin, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 4:20pm


    See the thing is, while these researchers have at least some, admittedly imperfect, data to back up their claims, you don't. Furthermore, I haven't read the report of the study but I would be surprised if the researchers even made those leaps of logic. They maybe implied them, as perhaps they should have. I don't really have a strong opinion on the video-games-cause-violence thing, but your analysis of their work is representative of the substantial thick-headedness of those trying so desperately to angelify their dear video games

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Mousky, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 4:26pm

    Meaningless Study

    Wonderful. Yet another meaningless study that will be used lobby groups to support their case, in this case, that violent video games cause violence in people. You can replace video games with sports, war, policing, fire fighting, and so on, and I am sure you would get the same results. Let's put this 'study' where it belongs - the garbage bin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Incognito, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 6:40pm

    Re: sports

    Exactly. Everybody likes to dump on video games but lets do a study on aggression and sports. How many people have been killed in fights over sports. Look at English soccer hooligans for one or fights among parents/coaches/refs at little league games. You wanna ban violent games? Fine but sports goes first. Lets ban any sport more aggressive than bocci!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 6:58pm

    Re: hmm

    Lucky for us comment posters, WE AREN'T RESEARCHERS. We don't need evidence to back up our claims and thoughts. They are just OPINIONS!

    We speak our mind in order to open up the minds of others. While every comment on Techdirt cannot be considered 100% accurate, at least they can get people thinking or debating about a specific subject from all kinds of different viewpoints.

    And for the record, any researcher can take any kind of "evidence" and skew it in a way that supports THEIR OWN OPINION.

    Studies like the one about video game violence don't even need to be accurate, they just create a buzz and get enough attention to sell media and ads. Which is what 90% of all mainstream media is about anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Mark, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 3:07am

    I wonder.......

    if the same reseachers would now conduct a study to show whether pornography causes sexual thought?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    z0idberg, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 3:14am

    scientific grandstanding.

    This "study" reeks to me of grandstanding on behalf of the University.
    The study looks to have been directly guided to "prove" a link between violent video games and agression right from the start rather than to actually investigate the possibility of a link.
    They set out to find a link and of course they found it, released the results and the media willingly grab hold and the University gets its publicity. The Title of the article itself "Violence in games stimulates brain for aggression" is exactly the result they wanted but was not what was proven. What was "proven" was that playing that particular video game stimulated the brain "for aggression".
    Whether it was the violence in the game that stimulated the aggression was definately not shown.
    It could have been any number of things, my unproven, untested, personal opinion would be it was the competitive nature of the game rather than the violence.
    I think its a pathetic attempt by the University to get in the spotlight. Its a small sample size study with no control group and no investigation into what factors other than the violence in the game could be causing the reaction. They set out to get the result the media is looking for on a hot topic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Hedwig Mathijs, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 3:36am

    Of course they reacted!

    And why shouldn't they react?
    Mind you, the study was not about the reactions after the game, but DURING the game! And I think it's no more than normal that the brains of these players reacted to a (realistic) virtual violent environment in a way similar to real violence.
    What the study didn't show, was that these players' minds were somehow influenced AFTER the game was over.
    I find it more scary to hear that 2 people didn't react. Was it because they were not interested in the game? Or maybe these 2 just don't react at all (a symptom more commonly found in serial killers). In other words, shouldn't we be more scared of the 2 that didn't react?
    Just a thought...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Bob3000, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 4:56am

    Another take on it

    I believe that problem doesn't lie with the violent video games, the problem is with VIOLENT GERMANS!!!!!1!!1

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Dan, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 6:14am

    No Subject Given

    The fact is that ppl are F*CKED up ... including these researchers ( lol ) ... we are naturally flawed, instictually animalistic at times, and sometimes some of us cannot not handle our aggressive feelings and we end up lashing out. I have been playing violent video games since the NES ... NEVER ONCE after a game of Double Dragon ( which I played till calluses erupted on my thumbs in the wee hours of the morning ) have I felt like kicking someone in the face with a spinning bird-kick or bludgeoning someone in the head with a baseball bat.
    The thought that someone is CAUSED, or CHANGED TO COMMIT A VIOLENT ACT by something they see or experience is natural and yes, we get angry when we lose or see someone else get hurt or when someone makes us angry ... and we NATURALLY want to ACT on that ... but that doesnt me we all act on it because of what we see or experience.
    I watched my mother get BEAT for 14 years of my adolescent life ... and I HAVE NEVER ONCE BEEN IN A FIGHT OR ALTERCATION WHERE VIOLENCE WAS MY CHOICE OUTLET FOR MY AGGRESSIVE THOUGHTS OR FEELINGS OF PUNCHING SOMEONE IN THE FACE! I would say whether I ever had a game controller placed in my hand or not wouldn't have changed me in the slightest. I still would have WANTED to punch someone in the face for pissing me off ... BUT I NEVER HAVE and NEVER WILL. I turned to music, or friends, or some other outlet because I was RAISED to CARE FOR OTHER PPL and not to HURT THEM ...
    IF children become violent ... dont blame it on the video ... just think for one second about the VALUES their parents FAILED to teach and nuture their kids with. HELL, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had GRENADES in their beareau drawers and guns under their BEDS ... WHERE WERE THE PARENTS ... hmmm ... well ... they were probably IGNORING THEIR CHILDREN and encouraging them to sit QUIETLY in their bedrooms and play video games ... it wasnt the games that caused them to KILL ppl ... it was the way they were raised and treated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    KB, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 6:32am

    Re: No Subject Given

    The problem with violent video games is that it allows the player to act out their violent inhibitions without repercussion. Another potential problem is that neural pathways are constantly being created and strengthened every time we use our brain.
    If one is to spend significant amounts of time carrying out violent acts, whether virtual or not, they will develop stronger pathways in the brain for such activity.
    There is also a chemical rush associated with these types of acts such as adrenaline and monoamine oxidase. Excessive quantities of these chemicals can lead to an addiction to the resulting rush.
    I enjoy playing all games, but have found some of the excessivly violent ones to change my attitude for the worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    z0idberg, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 6:40am

    Re:Re: No Subject Given

    There is the possibility that violent video games *could* cause these things. There is also the possibility that that violent video games could be a release for violent tendancies/behaviour.
    The thing is we dont know and there have been no conclusive studies (that I know of..) to tell either way.
    Or should I say there have been no studies that *prove* one case or the other. Plenty of studies have tried to claim results but none I have seen have been anywhere near thorough enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Bob3000, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 6:45am

    Dan's post

    I'd stay away from Dan - it looks like he could snap anytime now...and violently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    princessfrozen, Oct 13th, 2005 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Dan's post

    I'd noticed that too. Meanwhile, I'm miffed they didn't include females in this study. I play about 15 hours of Halo 2 a week and I'm not violent at all, save the occasional punching of my boyfriend. I kid (about the punching part), but seriously, for me playing an FPS is a way of insuring that I am NOT violent. It allows me to vent my frustrations and such in a contained environment. However, I'm about a decade older than the subjects so maybe they are more impressionable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Newob, Oct 14th, 2005 @ 3:14am

    Do studies of violent video games cause violence?

    I wonder, has there been a study of the level of aggression in people who study the effect of video games on aggression?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2005 @ 8:05pm

    No Subject Given

    would violent dreams have the same aggression effect as violent videogames...? like if you dream a lot about beating up people, you'd be a bit aggressive in rea life, wouldn't you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Juma K, Nov 1st, 2005 @ 12:16am

    Re: Video games

    It appears to me that alot of people are defending the undefendable about the violence violent video games induce in children! We must know that kids learn faster by seeing and imitating. And at their age, they have no distinction between right and wrong!
    The more they play the violent games, the more the very violence becomes part of them. Mind you, at that age, the brain is growing rapidly and assimilating alot of informations which can become akinned to physical behaviour of the kid as he/she grows up!
    Note that physical enviroments where one grows tend to shape that person to that physical enviroment in adulthood! Do you know that only in America that are there too much child violence and capital crimes committed by children?? Ask your self why?? the answer is simple! too much TV /video games violence in America watched by kids! They pick their parents' guns, go with them to schools and shoot fellow students thinkingthey are playing video games!!That is a child's mind! Let us not be blinded by MONEY we get by selling these games! Human being can not be replaced But money can be got through other means!
    So my friends just protect your kids from playing with these violent games lest you become his/her own victims of violence they learn from the games!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 1st, 2005 @ 1:15am

    Re: Video games

    Except that... no. As the popularity of violent video games has increased, the accounts of youth violence has decreased. So, it seems that the empirical evidence suggests you're wrong, no matter how strongly you believe your position.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Jack, Apr 22nd, 2006 @ 11:50am

    Juma K is wrong

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Johnbutt, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 3:26pm

    Stupid People

    if violence in video games cause youth violence, wouldn't every kid in the world who played them be on the streets right now firing off there ammunition?? Now that's something to think about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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