Study Finds Link Between Video Game Violence And Violent Behavior

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.

Source: APA / Brock University / The Telegraph / Daily Mail



  1. Gentleman, arm yourselves with the latter half of this piece for those obsessed with the outcome of the former are about to attack.

    • Sorry, ladies as well, how sexist of me. Probably all that DOA I’ve been playing.

  2. Please excuse me if I’m mistaken, but I can’t see anything in this study that indicates that violent or competitive games cause violent behaviour. Just because there is a link does not imply any kind of cause or effect. For example, how do we know that aggressive, violent people aren’t just naturally attracted to violent or competitive games? It seems far more plausible to me that the kind of people who are violent in real life will be more inclined to play violent video games, rather than the games themselves being the cause of violent behaviour.

  3. Exactly. They’re missing out a vital part, which is what particular games they were playing. If the ‘non-violent’ video games they were playing had no competition elements at all, and they were all playing ‘Cooking Mama’ or something for four years, (first of all i pity them!) then the research is contradicted by that earlier study in 2011.

    Also, does it specify the ages of the teenagers and what ‘violent’ games they were playing? Because if they were playing games with a higher age rating than their own ages, then this research is completely invalid.

    • With you on this one, Louise. Although, it’s important to see that those formative years can be shaped by all manner of stimuli so we have to be careful (and not just with games). Once again, those age restrictions are there in place for a reason. Parents need to not subject their offspring to too much violence – be it in film, book-form or game.

      Their brains are absolute sponges and life is often free enough to enjoy a vast array of activities. Gaming needs to only form a part of it… not all of it.

      Finally, and separately, it’s interesting to see the comment about competitiveness. It’s something I’ve seen with a few TSA friends who get way too fired up. The testosterone-fuelled male gender are usually to blame here.

      • It’s nearly always down to parents. It’s up to them to make sure kids are playing games that are meant for them, and are not instead queuing up to buy COD for them on release day :/

        I hate it whenever there’s a debate about video games on TV. As someone sensible who is defending games will always bring up the age rating issue, which is then just brushed aside as it’s nothing! It drives me mad! How can you ignore the fact that legally, children should not be playing violent games, and that’s the reason the age rating system is there. The same as for movies.

        I remember the discussion on that gardener’s talk show. Alan Titchmarch or whatever his name is. And that guy did exactly that and brought up the age rating issue, and then that stupid woman just completely ignored it. I turned the tv off, i refused to watch anymore. It made me hate the gardener as well, as he had no idea what he was talking about!

      • Agreed. It was terrible viewing and ignoring the certification is wholly objectionable when trying to incite some sort of dislike of the industry.

        The moment parents fail to do their job is the moment it all starts falling apart. Stop blaming the industry and be responsible with your children.

  4. According to my study, The Daily Mail causes cancer and facepalms. The same study found that the Sun only has one use and that is wanking material. Only a few people were involved with the study and this makes it a fact! Because the study shows.

    If video games did cause people to become violent, then the world would be a very very dangerous place to live in. From 3 year olds hijacking your car to a 13 year old mugging you etc.. If you are going to allow your kid to play games that they are not old enough to play from a young age every day, then it is no surprise that they will turn out to be little brats as video games are meant to be used as a hobby not a babysitter! But even then, i doubt that they would end up being hardened criminals if the parents have rasied them correctly.

    Funny how everytime the DM blames the gaming industry for a crime, they always forget to mention any other possible factors into why the person did it apart from the typical HE PLAYED A GAME ONCE THUS HE IS THE SPAWN OF SATAN!

  5. I’m waiting for the study that links violence to poorly researched tabloid articles.

  6. I would first like to know how they test for aggression and how easily they rule out other factors. A 4 year study could see a lot of the lives of the sample group changing over that course of time, which could have had an effect on aggression.
    I play violent video games and I’m a calm person, justified by my calm response to this. I feel they should ditch the studies on this as they have no bearings or real proof, spend your funding elsewhere on something more meaningful :)

    • How they test for aggression;

      Let test subject play GTA for 2 hours straight. Tester to then get in their face & call them names repeatedly for two hours.

      If the test subject becomes violent & twats the tester, job done. The media can continue to use their scapegoat for pretty much whatever they feel like. :)

      • haha i can see that being the way too :P

    • Then why did you tear off my balls and rip my arm off? T-T

  7. Meh, someone will fund another research that will contradict this.

  8. Everybody repeat after me. “Correlation does not imply causation”.

    We all know what conclusions the tabloids are going to draw from this research, but I’d bet (without actually having read the research paper) that concluding “violent personalities causes a preference for violent games” is a just as valid conclusion.

  9. The cause of violence, excluding war, is pride. Biblically speaking, sin is pride. The definition of pride is thinking of yourself before others. If one murders, the reason is always because they are thinking of themselves. The same with other sins, including adultery, stealing, etc. One argument I could think of is killing in self defense or defending your home. Killing is not technically murder, so it is not a sin. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, like Robin Hood, is another argument. That’s a hard one, but the way I see it, the motivation isn’t prideful, therefore not a sin. Video games, TV, and books, are just entertainment mediums. There is no correlation between entertainment and violence. It’s all a matter of what is in one’s heart. That’s why the bible says to guard your heart for it is the life blood of your life.I love video games, including the violent ones. I know how to guard my heart by knowing the difference between reality and pretend. If someone claims that they “got the idea from gta,” then they didn’t guard their heart.

  10. “Study Finds Link Between Video Game Violence & Violent Behavior”??

    What a load of rubbish. Sounds to me like that Professor Willoughby needs to be stabbed, shot, then set on fire.
    Now then, back to GTA…….

Comments are now closed for this post.