Studies

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
research, violent video games



Latest Study On Violent Video Games Shows More Aggressive Behavior

from the but-how-much? dept

We've seen plenty of studies on the impacts of violent video games, whose results were later blown out of proportion in the media. When you looked at the actual details of the studies that were often purported to show a link between violent video games and real world violence, the so-called link almost always disappeared. Instead, what you found was that playing violent video games did make kids more emotional, which is what you would expect. While playing an exciting game, who wouldn't get caught up in the action? That doesn't mean they'd go out and hurt people, though. Some studies showed immediate aggressive behavior immediately after playing, but, again, that's rather reasonable as they probably have increased adrenalin flowing. But that's hardly a sign that they're going to go hurt people, and the effect doesn't last very long. Other studies have shown that kids who play such games get desensitized to images of violence -- which again makes sense, but still doesn't mean that they think violence is acceptable. It just means they're not shocked when they see it.

The latest study may be the most interesting (and, perhaps, controversial), however. It actually tries to account for much of this and tries to measure aggressive behavior of violent video game players months later. The study found that kids who spent more time playing more violent games, did in fact get more aggressive over time, even accounting for how aggressive they were at the beginning of the study. There are some questionable aspects to the study, such as using self-reporting to determine "violent acts," but on the whole this study does appear to be at least marginally more convincing than earlier studies, and, at the very least suggests further areas that should be studied.

Of course, nowhere does it explain why, if the study's findings are true, youth violence has decreased significantly over the same period of time that violent video games have become much more popular. If violent video games really made people consistently more violent, you'd expect to see that increase. And, if that number is not increasing, then you have to wonder if any reported increase in youth violence is even at a level that matters. If there's a marginal increase in aggressive behavior that doesn't lead to any increase in illegal behavior, is that really an issue? Also, when compared with another recent study that shows it's the small percentage of kids who don't play video games who are more likely to actually get in trouble, it makes you wonder if there are some completely independent factors at work here, rather than any direct correlation between violent video games and real world violence.

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  1. identicon
    the truth, 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:51am

    video game blame

    No video game blame
    For many years video games have been blamed for sex drug use and mass murder. But there have been no reasons for such accusations parents and the government blames music and video games for a lot of thing. Such as the columbine high school massacre and the Virginia tech massacre but there have been no proven links between sex, drugs use and murder. Video games have also been studied for links to addiction and violent behavior. Some studies have found that video games do not contribute to these problems Recently several groups have argued that there are few if any scientifically proven studies to backup such claims, and that the video game industry has become a scapegoat for the media to blame for various social ills. Furthermore, numerous researchers have proposed potential positive effects of video games on aspects of development and for psychological well-being.

    A common argument used by advocates of videogames is that the majority of gamers are adults. Statistics show that between 40 - 50% of computer game players are women, and that the average age of players is increasing - currently standing at mid to late 20s. Most of the critics of videogames however, agree that it is the large portion of children playing that is the issue. One of the most common criticisms of video games is that they allegedly increase violent tendencies among youth. Several major studies by groups such as The Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health. The Journal of Adolescent Health and The British Medical Journal have shown no conclusive link between video game usage and violent activity. One of the first widely accepted controversial video games was developer Exidy's 1976 title Death Race.

    In which players controlled cars that ran over pixilated representations of gremlins. The game caused such an outcry that it was pulled from store shelves and profiled on 60 Minutes. PTA president Ronnie Lamm pushed for legislation in the early 1980s to place restrictions on how close video game arcades could be to schools, asserting that they caused children to fight. Portrayals of violence allegedly became more realistic with time, and so politicians such as U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman conducted hearings during the 1990s regarding what he referred to as "violent video games" which, in his opinion, included such games as Mortal Kombat. His sentiments have been echoed by certain researchers, such as Dr. Craig A. Anderson who testified before the Senate, "Some studies have yielded no significant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer”.

    An example of videogame controversy Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came under similar criticism, also for implying allegedly racist hate crimes: The game, taking place in "Vice City" (a fictional Miami) in 1986, involves a gang war between Haitians and Cuban refugees, and the player often serves both gangs to plot against one another. Haitian and Cuban anti-defamation groups highly criticized the game for these actions, including using phrases such as "kill the Haitian dickheads" (a phrase used in the game, actually referring to the Haitian gang with which the character is having a shoot-out). After the threat of being sued by the Haitian-American Coalition, Rock star removed the word "Haitians" from this phrase in the game's subtitles. These concerns have led to voluntary rating systems adopted by the industry, such as the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating system in the United States and the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) rating system in Europe, that are aimed at informing parents about the types of games their children are playing (or are asking to play). Certain game publishers’ decision to have controversial games rated seems to show that they are not targeted at young children. They are ESRB rated as "Mature" or "Adults Only" in the US, or given BBFC ratings of 15 or 18 in the UK. The packaging notes that these games should not be sold to children. In the US, ESRB ratings are not legally binding, but many retailers take it upon themselves to refuse the sale of these games to minors. In the UK, the BBFC ratings are backed up by law, so it is actually illegal to sell the game to anyone under the indicated age, and many UK retailers go beyond that and also enforce the PEGI ratings, which are not backed up by law.

    Parents have come to hate or become angry at the video games they are outraged at the video game makers. I think it is because they are just looking for a reason to blame some one else other than them self’s but it is in some way their fault to even if they might not know they have done some thing wrong. Maybe they did not try to find out what was going on with their kid when he/she came home crying or depressed. Maybe even did some thing weird that they normally would not do but I’m not saying it is their fault. I’m saying that maybe if they tried they could have prevented this or help stop it but they are blaming some thing that they are not even sure is the problem music and games doing not kill people. People kill people if fact out of all the cases that have been recorded that were blamed for video game and music only 5 of them are really related.

    But in all but one of those the person was extremely mentally disturbed and tried to become the main character and hurting and/or killing the main bad guy. Those games were roles playing fantasy in witch ask the player to act and/or think like the main character. The other ones was a when two people had a fight online and then one of them found were he lived via MySpace hunt down them and them hurt them very badly trying to kill them luckily the police stopped them before he killed him. So there is no proof and there is no reason why games should be blamed and attacked the way they are but they are any ways.

    There might not be any way to stop it but I can hope that people will stop and think about this subject. The worst part is that they not only attack the games that are violent but the e rated game as well. Some people think that they don’t even care about the game or what’s in it but are trying to get rid of them all together. This is only fueling the fire that is fueling this fire you ask none other Jack Thompson a man that makes me shutter at the evil thing this man says. Jack Thompson for you that don’t know who he is a Florida attorney and fervent critic the of video game industry. He is the first one attacking the games some of you might remember him he was the evil man that said and I quote “These are real lives. These are real people that are in the ground now because of this game. I have no doubt about it," this guy is so full of him self. When Jack Thompson gets worked up, he refers to gamers as "knuckleheads." He calls video games "mental masturbation." When he's talking about himself and his crusade against violent games, he calls himself an "educator." He likes to use the word "pioneer." On those rare occasions when a student opens fire on a school campus, Thompson is frequently the first and the loudest to declare games responsible. In recent years he's blamed games such as "Counter-Strike," "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto III" for school shootings in Littleton, Colo., Red Lake, Minn. and Paducah, Ky. He's blamed them for shootings beyond school grounds as well. In an attempt to hold game developers and publishers responsible for these spasms of violence, Thompson has launched several unsuccessful lawsuits.

    It appears that others are now picking up on this tactic. Adam Thierer points us to a recent case where a lawyer isn't arguing that his client, a 24-year-old, didn't commit a murder. He's arguing that the guy thought he was playing a video game. This is a really weak way to try to get someone acquitted of murder -- and says quite a bit about the lawyers who would use this sort of defense. As the article notes, the actual evidence suggests that video games had nothing to do with the murder, and that it was an old-fashioned robbery attempt.

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