by Carlo Longino

Study Says Video Games Do Affect People, But Hardly At All

from the reason dept

Violent video games have been back in the news lately, following the Virginia Tech massacre (even though the shooter apparently wasn't a big gamer) and renewed efforts by state legislators to pass unconstitutional video-game bans. The overall issue here is that plenty of people want to eliminate responsibility for violent behavior by blaming it on video games, and saying they make people killers. Studies that claim to prove a link between games and violent or aggressive behavior generally fail miserably, with all that can really be agreed on is that video games do cause some sort of mental reaction in players -- as you might expect. Still, it's quite a leap to go from that to saying that video games make people behave a certain way after they're done playing. That's the general point made by the author of the latest study in the field, who says that games do create aggression in some people, but that the overall effect on people is very small, and has been exaggerated by activists, politicians and the media (it's probably worth noting that the title of the article about the study does this, by saying "Games Do Cause Violent Behavior (But Not Much)", when the study didn't look at violent behavior, just feelings of aggression). This gets to the heart of the matter: it's common sense that some video games could evoke certain feelings or mindsets in people -- but that's a completely separate issue from acting out those feelings through real-world violence outside the game. Plenty of other factors have far more impact the behavior of people -- particularly kids -- than video games. Trying to ban violent games is misguided, and overlooks all the other, more culpable, pieces of the puzzle that make people act out violent behavior.

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  1. identicon
    Enders, 26 Apr 2007 @ 2:39am

    Video games are a form of entertainment. Entertainment is, by definition, stimulating and is supposed to evoke a reaction. This goes for video games, board games, tv, movies, novels, sport, rollercoaster rides, knitting, and throwing scrunched up paper into a basket. If you ban one, you'd better ban them all!

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