When the tabloids blame video games for something awful in the news many people (including myself) have been quick to point out that not a single piece of research has linked violent behaviour to violent video games.
That argument may no longer be valid as a research team at Brock University in Canada seems to have proven that there is a link between the two and it does seem to be pretty thorough.
The study was carried out on over 1,500 students over a four year period, both girls and boys took part in almost equal measures and analysis has shown teenagers who played violent video games over a number of years were more aggressive than those who played non violent games.
At this point the gaming press normally point out that there are many factors that can effect a person’s behavior but the team claim to have taken into account other factors that could be linked to aggression including gender, parental divorce and drug usage.
Lead researcher Professor Teena Willoughby has said “It is clear that there is a long-term association between violent video games and aggression. This is an important and concerning finding, particularly in light of the hours that youth spend playing these games.”
Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, commented, “The study as a whole does provide one of the strongest pieces of empirical evidence to date that there is a direct relationship between playing violent video games and subsequent aggressive behaviour.”
So there we go, the experts agree and there is now thorough research: violent video games make you aggressive… or do they?
According to the Daily Mail, Professor Willoughby said further research “could look at whether the effect is solely due to violent content or whether fast-paced action and competition may also play a part.”
This is rather interesting because if you go the Brock University website and check out their Graduate Studies page it mentions a piece of research by Paul Adachi, PhD candidate in Psychology, on the very subject.
A summary of the research published in October 2011 via the American Psychological Association is as follows.
“We found that video game violence was not sufficient to elevate aggressive behavior compared with a nonviolent video game, and that more competitive games produced greater levels of aggressive behavior, irrespective of the amount of violence in the games.
Conclusion: It appears that competition, not violence, may be the video game characteristic that has the greatest influence on aggressive behavior.”
Hang on, I made a small mistake, there were two authors for the research, Paul Adachi and… Professor Teena Willoughby.