Video Games and Agression
Violent video games are often put forward as one of the causes of aggressive behaviour. The effects that these games have on real-world behaviour have long been a hotly debated topic. For example, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, Dr. Craig Anderson argued that “high exposure to media violence is a major contributing cause of the high rate of violence in modern U.S. society”. But is this really true?
According to a recent study published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture, there is no evidence to support the notion that video games lead to increases in real-world violent crimes. This research found some interesting results: “homicides tended to decrease in the months following the release of popular M-rated violent video games”, apparently criminals were too busy having fun playing their favourite video games. The researches of the study note that “finding that a young man who committed a violent crime also played a popular video game, such as Call of Duty, Halo, or Grand Theft Auto, is as pointless as pointing out that the criminal also wore socks.”
Another study conducted last year, that was funded by the US government, also found the opposite effect: children with ADD or depression actually appeared to be less aggressive after playing violent games such as GTA, Halo or Mortal Kombat. It’s a fascinating finding, children prone to aggression appear to be less-aggressive after playing violent video games.
Despite these findings from academic articles pointing out the insanity of blaming video games for violent behaviour in modern society, governments in Western countries such as Australia and Germany keep banning and censoring video games. Germany’s censorship law specifically prevents material that “glorifies violence” and therefore adults are not allowed to buy the violent video games they like. Recently the new South Park video game called ‘Stick of Truth’ was even censored in Europe as a whole, as several cut scenes were deleted from the game. What do you think? Should governments be able to censor these video games?
Burgess, M. (2014) Censored: Australian videogame ratings versus the world, http://www.gameplanet.com.au/features/g51d5115802299/Censored-Australian-videogame-ratings-versus-the-world/, retrieved October 4, 2014.
Ferguson C.J. & Olson C. (2013) ‘Video game violence among ‘vulnerable’ populations: the impact of violent games on delinquency and bullying among children with clinically elevated depression or attention deficit symptoms’, Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
Makuch, E. (2014) Violent Video Games Don’t Lead to Increases In Violent Crimes, Study Finds , http://www.gamespot.com/articles/violent-video-games-dont-lead-to-increases-in-viol/1100-6422421/, retrieved October 4, 2014.
Moses, T. (2014) Why has the South Park: Stick of Truth game been censored in Europe?, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/05/south-park-stick-of-truth-game-censored-europe, retrieved October 5, 2014.