Ah, video games. Sweet, innocent video games. You keep trying to prove to people your excessive violence doesn’t lead to violent behavior and the masses keep thinking otherwise.
If you’ve been on the internet for longer than ten minutes you’re aware of a very common argument: video games makes children violent. Much like television, rock music, and even the radio in its time, video games are a common subject to blame when one uncovers a violent child or adolescent. It is easy (if cheap) logic to make a mental association between a child playing violent video games becoming violent to and adult who drinks lots of alcohol becoming an alcoholic. You are what you consume, that’s the theory, as basic and childish as it is.
In the wake of that numerous studies have taken children into labs, fed them video games to see what happened and were unable to link video games to violent behavior. If anything the only thing called into question in these studies was the amount of consumption the child had of said games and if that was a symptom of a larger problem. However, a recent study completed in the journal Frontiers in Psychology took a look at what happened in the long term to exposure.
Led by Dr. Gregor R. Szycik from the Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School in Hanover, Germany the study examined a select group of 30 people. 15 of whom played violent video games for four hours a day and 15 control subjects who had not played them. Their hypothesis was that they would find a notable difference between the two groups with their tests.
Subjects were instructed to not play violent video games for a minimum of three hours before the experiment so that the long term effects could be determined and not the short term. During the study, the subjects were asked a series of psychological questions and then placed in an MRI where they were shown images designed specifically to elicit an emotional response and asked how they would feel in those situations. Then using the MRI they measured the neural activity accordingly.
After tests were done researchers aggregated the data and came to a single conclusion. Guess what that conclusion was. “…the fMRI data did not provide evidence for a neural desensitization in the processing emotionally salient stimuli. In fact, the responses of both groups were very similar and no group differences were observed even at relaxed statistical thresholds.” According to the study itself.
There are factors to consider; first of all, it is a relatively small sample size at thirty people. Additionally, it isn’t known what kind of other violent media subjects consumed. So, it is likely that further testing will be required.
The thing is, most studies about violent video games have showcased only short term results up to this point and then mostly around children. This study was conducted only with adults with an average age of 22 years (plus or minus four years on the outliers) and had to play violent video games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield for at least two hours a day for four years so this is an important contrasting study. Further research is required, naturally, but it’s a promising start.
If you like video games.
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I’m a kid that is being forced to a research paper that is supposed to be 4 pages and I couldn’t think of a single topic that I could make it that long until I heard somebody say that playing violent video games makes kids do violent things and I about flipped shit on them when they said that and that’s when I realized when this was going to be my topic and I cant wait till I’m done to give them it to prove to them they are stupid and are just saying that and don’t actually know if its true and I can’t wait till they read my paper and the look completely stupid when they try and argue back and I’m just gonna laugh at them they whole time they are trying to argue back because they wont be able to because they are like 46 and can barley even use an app on their I phone.
This was a clear click bate headline that twisted the study’s findings out of context. The Journal’s headline reads, “Lack of Evidence That Neural Empathic Responses Are Blunted in Excessive Users of Violent Video Games: An fMRI Study.” This alone tells you that no conclusions have been made here and also the study is looking specifically at neural empathic responses, not “any” as the author suggests here. Too many other variables involved here to back a base statement about any of this, but I give credit to the study for continuing the conversation and putting some data behind the theories.
Are you aware that it is, in fact, impossible to prove a negative? No matter how extensive a study one performs, it is never going to be possible to prove that violent video games don’t make someone violent. All you can do is fail to find evidence that they do.
Frances Holle says
Not that I think it is a good thing to have a child, under 12, playing games like Call of Duty, but I think the study shows that the impact is minimal in the long term. We should be looking closer at the overall behavioral impact of playing these types of games for many years and how that child develops as a whole.
Brandi Vaden says
I really think it is lame that all of these years the bad video games were being blamed for violent behavior. Even someone without a degree can tell you that there is a lot more to it than that.
Elizabeth Lichtenstein says
Well, at least we can all point to this article when it comes up in the news next time. It is such a crock of crap when games are blamed for violent behavior. What a scapegoat that is and if I were in the parents shoes of a person being convicted of something like this and it were blamed on games, I would go ape shit.
Micheal Ballard says
Even at just 30 people, this is a good study since the mainstream media is still looking for that excuse to blame someone for killing another person. I would like to see a larger scale test done like this.