The research behind video game violence and its link to real-world violence is an ongoing debate that may never end. It is important to understand the different perspectives on the issue and further unpack the intensive amount of data that surrounds both angles of the issue.
Possible link to virtual violence?
In the wake of constant mass shootings and real-world tragedy, politicians are looking for their culprit in the virtual world. Accompanied with the success of the thriving gaming industry public debate concerning the impact of video game exposure has come to the forefront with many researchers believing that there are some studies that may lead to the link of violent video games to real-world violence. ‘The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence’ researches the impacts on an individual’s physiological state of mind during and after playing violent video games. It was revealed that over 85% of games contain some sort of violence and half of those including serious violent actions. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission found that many game manufacturers market violent games to children. This is an alarming statistic considering children’s brains have not fully developed and they are not aware of their rights from wrongs. Youth tend to become more aggressive immediately after exposure resulting in more built-up aggression during adolescence. (Anderson 2003) The smaller video game literature has found that playing violent video games increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive affect, aggressive cognitions, physiological arousal, and decreases in prosocial behaviour. For instance, Anderson found that violent games may increase aggressive thoughts, but these thoughts do not appear to always lead to aggressive behaviours. Although there are no real studies showing the link between the two, there is still some psychological factors that make people believe there is a real issue with violent video gaming.
No link between violent video gaming and real-life violence?
Studies reveal that there appears to be no evidence to claim violent video games are to blame for real-world violence. In a study conducted by the University of Oxford reveals that there is no link. This study used a combination of subjective and objective data to measure teen aggression and violence in games. “While no correlation was found between playing video games and aggressive behaviour in teenagers, the researchers emphasize that this does not mean that some mechanics and situations in gaming do not provoke angry feelings or reactions in players.” (Przybylski 2019) It is believed that individuals who play this type of genre of the game get used to all the violence and eventually become physiologically numb to it all. There is not enough supporting evidence to reveal a clear link between aggression and violent video gaming. It seems to be an issue like social media being the cause for depression but there is no real supporting evidence. These types of technological anxieties have not been studied rigorously enough there for appropriate policy decisions can not be made.
The question of whether adolescent engagement with violent video games drives aggressive behaviour in young people is a critically important one. In order to conclude this debate on whether or not there is a definite link to violent video games and real-world violence more critical research and evidence need to be brought to the surface.
Carnage, N., Anderson, C. and Bushman, B. (2005). The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Experimental Social Psychology. [online] Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.112.7703&rep=rep1&type=pdf [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
Przybylski, A. and Weinstein, N. (2019). Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report. Royal Society Publishing, [online] 6(2). Available at: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.171474 [Accessed 12 Oct. 2019].
OX. (2019). Violent video games found not to be associated with adolescent aggression. [online] Available at: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2019-02-13-violent-video-games-found-not-be-associated-adolescent-aggression [Accessed 12 Oct. 2019].