‘Playing video games make kids violent.’
We’ve all heard something along those lines spouted on TV, Radio, and across headlines in many publications.
The gaming community both young and old would tend to disagree with sweeping statement unreservedly, because let’s face it… there’s more to real-world violence than someone being turned into a complete rage monster by playing a game.
In general video games often get a fair bit of bad press once in a while.
Following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in Parkland, Florida, the New York Times reported that President Trump said: ‘I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.’
What he said during the White House meeting on school safety isn’t a new thought for the President or a number of other politicians and campaigners.
In 2012, before he became POTUS, Trump blamed the Sandy Hook massacre on ‘video game violence’.
Video game violence & glorification must be stopped—it is creating monsters!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2012
The narrative isn’t exactly new in politics on either side of the pond.
Following Anders Breivik’s horrific attacks in Norway in 2011 shamed Labour MP Keith Vaz pushed for the state to have new powers to ban material rather than only apply age classification.
The list goes on and on.
Just last year Reuters reported a two-year study of more than 3,000 school children in Singapore, had led researchers to found that nearly one in ten were video game ‘addicts’ – needless to say it was controversial, and faced some debunking from other researchers and scientists.
But the trope that video games are the cause of violent behaviour is one that’s been trotted out countless times in recent memory.
However, a new study, Molecular Psychology provides a well-timed repast to the more recent rhetoric.
German researchers recruited three groups of typically non-gaming, healthy volunteers, 77 in total, for their study. Each group was given a battery of questionnaires and personality assessments right at the start. Then, for the next two months, one group was told to play a daily 30 minutes of GTA V, while another got to play Sims 3.
The third and last group, serving as the control, got told to come back two months later for a second round of identical tests, which the other two groups did as well. Each group was finally given a third round of tests two months after that.
What did the study find?
‘[We] did not find relevant negative effects in response to violent video game playing,’ reads the study.
‘In fact, only three tests of the 208 statistical tests performed showed a significant interaction pattern that would be in line with this hypothesis. Since at least ten significant effects would be expected purely by chance, we conclude that there were no detrimental effects of violent video gameplay.’
Essentially within the groups, the researchers found no significant difference in the volunteers’ level of aggression before and after they started gaming.
It’s hardly the first study that’s debunked the myth that video games are the only contributors to violent crime and a number of other disorders.
According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 49 percent of American adults (which focused on both men and women) play video games, whether on a computer, a TV, a gaming console, or a portable device like a mobile phone or an iPad.
According to NewZoo, a gaming market research company, in Japan about 60 percent of the population played video games in 2016. Two years prior, in 2014, there were just six deaths caused by gun crime – there were over 33,000 recorded in the USA that same year.
In fact, it’s fair to say almost no-one is killed by a gun in the country, which has banned possessing, carrying, selling, or buying handguns or rifles.
The debate will certainly go on, but it’s far more complex than just pinning everything onto video games and other forms of media.
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