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Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment, Health, Media, Society | 19 comments

Long-Time Users of Violent Video Games More Aggressive

Previous research has shown a link between extended use of violent video games and increased aggression and anger by players. But now a new study conducted at The Ohio State University confirms it:

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Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • sheknows

    And here we thought they were safe because people could get all that aggression out vicariously 🙂 need. We have REAL guns available just about everywhere.

  • dduck

    Do you older folks remember that certain types of comic books did the the same damage way back?

  • dduck

    “Naked Statistics”, for those so inclined: “If you want to eat sausage and survive, you should know what goes on in the factory. That dictum — one of only a few certainties in an uncertain world — most definitely applies to the statistical sausage factory where medical data is ground into advice. Mr. Wheelan has propped the factory gates wide open. Take his tour.”

  • adelinesdad


    That’s why pear review is so important, because we can’t all be experts in all domains. This is why I came around to accepting climate change: because after trying to understand the arguments for and against, I determined that I was unqualified to judge the arguments and therefore resigned myself to accept the near-consensus view. At that point I realized that if the skeptics were right, it was up to them to convince the others, but until then I’ll accept the consensus.

    But back to the topic, here’s my non-scientific view: the realistic violence in video games these days (that makes me sound old) is revolting to me. I can’t imagine playing those games and gaining pleasure from seeing (and causing) someone’s simulated gruesome death, particularly in some cases where the person is an innocent bystander or police officer. I don’t think I’m out of the ordinary on that, so the fact that so many people do enjoy it leads me to believe that there must be some numbing that goes on over time. Considering that the point of these games is to mimic reality (or a twisted version of it), it’s logical to presume that this numbing applies to real violence, not just simulated violence. Further, it’s logical that this numbing makes some people more likely to commit real violence.

    Therefore, I’d say the burden of proof lies with those who say that it has no effect, since common sense says it must have some effect. That’s not to say it should be banned, but parents need to be more vigilant. The fact that so many parent’s allow their kids to play these games is baffling to me. If preventing my kids from continually simulating themselves perpetrating horrible violence is considered sheltering my kids, so be it.

  • I guess in lieu of ruffling any 2nd amendment feathers, 1st amendment censorship is OK…

    We act like violence in society is something new… I suppose it was stuffed lions and nerf swords in Il Colosseo all those years back?

    I will concede that the participatory angle (rather than casual observer in comics, books, and TV) COULD lead to cultivating violence in someone predisposed to violence, but how does one pull that apart from body/brain chemistry, upbringing, and TV?

    This is one of those times that I sympathize with the pro-gun crowd. People who don’t own a gun and/or don’t play video games ask the “Why would you ever want [X]?” question.

    As part of the pro-video-game crowd, I’ve played just about every generational gold-standard of the media’s touted “the most violent video game ever” (Wolfenstein, Doom, Mortal Kombat, all of the Grand Theft Auto games, almost all of the Call of Duty games, ad infinitum). I know that anecdotal evidence does not stack up to academic studies, but I’ve got plenty of family members and friends who are well-adjusted members of society who don’t go on rampage killing sprees or (to use the overplayed example from Grand Theft Auto games) go out pick up a hooker, have sex with her, and then kill her for her money because they learned it or did it in a video game.

  • adelinesdad,

    MOST games do not allow you to kill innocent bystanders or cops. Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed games – for instance – stop the game and make you restart from a previous point. Even in Grand Theft Auto, where you are able to kill people on the street and/or cops, the cops start coming after you with more and more cars, helicopters, etc. (and frequently do catch/kill you).

    No CHILD should be playing the games rated Mature (17+). As with R-rated movies, when your child is ready to be exposed to that sort of material can wait until they’re 17 or when you’ve judged they are mature enough to handle it.

    Frankly speaking, as I said before, this is where I sympathize with the gun issue, because we have people WHO DON’T PLAY THESE GAMES commenting on them. People who make false conclusions based upon what they’ve heard or seen without playing the STORY in most of these games. The point of most of these games is not to simulate reality… it’s to tell a story.

    As an afterthought, who’s to say this small minority of folks getting true pleasure out of killing innocents wouldn’t otherwise be burning ants with a magnifying glass or torturing the family animal? My point: those that seek/get pleasure out of violence find it anywhere they want.

  • zusa1

    This is from the article dd posted:

    “Remember, correlation does not imply causation.”

    Could it be people with these natural tendencies are disproportionately drawn to these types of games?

  • Jim Satterfield

    I’ve played different kinds of computer and video games for decades now. The gross out class of games do nothing for me and in fact my favorites are PC strategy and role playing games. But I definitely agree that parents need to pay attention to the ESRB ratings on games and not give their kids age inappropriate games. And I agree with both of dduck’s posts and everyone posting here on this subject has very good points. steadystate is right that most games have penalties for bad behavior and zusai points out a valid argument. The problem with these kinds of studies is an attempt to measure something as vague as aggression in a naturally aggressive species, human beings.

  • ShannonLeee

    ill believe it after a number of other researchers confirm the results.

  • The_Ohioan

    The results have been the same for decades, whether testing convicts or college students. Acceptance of those results, not so much. We simply don’t want to believe that we are so close to our cousins, the primates.

  • ShannonLeee
  • dduck

    SL, Does seem convincing, but I am not convinced.
    From the current Science Section of the NYT, besides the article on the book Naked Statistics, there was an article on how a new study discounts the harm of eating eggs for potential heart problems, and also an article with a new study debunking brain activity in vegetative patients.
    All, in all, we see studies reversing and re-reversing with each new study.
    Butter is bad, butter is OK, etc.
    Just skeptical as many studies start out with a desired preconceived conclusion.

  • zusa1

    What about their children?


    “Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny”

    “Could parents’ experiences early in their lives somehow change the traits they passed to their offspring? ”,9171,1952313,00.html

  • The_Ohioan

    That’s the way science works. Prove or disprove results with different results; which is why we have the egg controversies. When the preponderence of results reach a consensus we will be convinced that eggs are good for us – or not. We can eat eggs no matter which result is in fashion, but the effect will not change, only our conviction that we are not being affected.

    Everyone knows that smoking is bad for the body in general, but it is good for controlling one particular disease. A family member that has that disease uses nicotine patches to successfully control the disease without getting lung cancer – we hope.

    If a great number of experiments that show no change in thought/emotion processes occur, that would cause some doubt about the connection. I’ve not heard of even one, let alone enough to cause skepticism.

  • The_Ohioan


    I can think of a lot of questions about those conclusions, but here is another conundrum:

    In any case, we are concerned with psychological changes, not physical changes, by observing violence whatever its form.

    Does anyone doubt the effects of violence on those with PTSD?

  • dduck

    I agree with Ohio, it’s a gray area.

  • zusa1


    That was an interesting article.

    Is a person still affected by violence even if they are cognitively aware that the violence is not real?

    I also think psychology and physiology are intertwined.

  • The_Ohioan


    That’s what the experiments show. I think you are correct since one cannot exist without the other and they are inextricably intertwined.

  • adelinesdad

    I admit to being no expert on the science, but from the looks of things there is no consensus. The failure to prove that violent games do have an effect does no prove that they don’t. But in the absence of scientific consensus, we must still make a judgment for ourselves. Legally speaking, if it can’t be proven to be harmful then it can’t be banned or restricted, and I’m OK with that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t follow my reasoning (outlined above and below) to conclude that they probably do have an effect, and therefore I will keep myself and my children away from them and advocate that others do the same.

    steadystate, to be clear I’m not advocating that we ban the games, just that parents should take more responsibility, as it seems you agree.

    zusai: “Is a person still affected by violence even if they are cognitively aware that the violence is not real?”

    This is the central question of my reasoning and I reason that the answer is Yes. It seems to me that The purpose of creating a realistic violent video game is to simulate the same responses, in some portion, as would occur under a real violent scenario. Otherwise, what is the point? If it’s just a hand-eye coordination thing, or a strategy thing, or whatever, then the human targets and blood and guts are unnecessary. So, they must be there for a reason. In that case, it’s reasonable to conclude that whatever effect real violence has on a person’s mental state most likely occurs, to some degree, when experiencing simulated, realistic violence. But that’s just my take.

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