Aggression and games link "inconclusive": O'Connor

Australian Federal Government review of existing research into the effects of violent games on behaviour finds no links; Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor says review will be passed on to other censorship ministers for upcoming R18+ decision.

The possible links between violent video games and increased aggressive behaviour in players have long been used by anti-R18+ proponents as a major reason an adult rating for games should not be introduced in Australia. But now it seems the Federal Government has officially denied that supposition.

The Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, today released a review into an R18+ classification for video games that looks at existing research in order to try to answer the question of whether those who play violent video games are at greater risk of becoming aggressive. According to the review findings, there is no conclusive evidence that violent games have a greater impact than other media.

"The review found that evidence about the effect of violent computer games on the aggression displayed by those who play them is inconclusive," O’Connor said. "From time to time people claim that there is a strong link between violent crime or aggressive behaviour and the popularity of violent computer games. The literature does not bear out that assertion."

According to O'Connor, Australia's censorship ministers requested this review be carried out in order to assist them in making an informed decision about R18+ for games leading into the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting on December 10. The review also found that there is stronger evidence of short-term effects from violent games than long-term effects and that some research points to the fact that games are a small risk factor in aggressive behaviour over the short term. However, according to the review, "these studies do not thoroughly explore other factors such as aggressive personality, family and peer influence, and socio-economic status."

According to O'Connor, censorship ministers will look carefully at the review findings during next week's SCAG meeting.

"Australia needs a consistent classification system that protects young minds from any possible adverse affect, while also ensuring that adults are free to make their own decisions about what they play, within the bounds of the law," O’Connor said.

"Classification ministers across Australia are carefully considering the pros and cons of introducing an R18+ classification for computer games--restricting the viewing of these games to people aged 18 and above.

"As part of their decision making, ministers requested this literature review and other documents to assist them in making a well-informed decision. I'm keen to proceed with making this important decision, based on solid and robust evidence. This comprehensive review adds to the material ministers can rely on to make their decision."

O'Connor's view on R18+ has shifted somewhat since he first revealed that more consultation on the issue was needed back in May. In October he called on Australia's "silent majority" to speak out, before announcing just last month that he is keen to make progress on R18+.

Other politicians have also made their voices heard on the issue recently. Last week, Labor ACT Senator Kate Lundy delivered a speech to the Senate on the benefits of an adult classification for games; earlier this week the Federal Opposition's Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis stepped up to the plate and declared he is sympathetic to the R18+ for games cause.

For more on the issue, visit GameSpot AU's previous coverage.

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Discussion

27 comments
SPBoss
SPBoss

Right so if I play Manhunt for a couple of days does it mean I will go out one night and choke someone to death with a shopping bag? So in that context then that also means anyone thats watched the S.A.W films will eventually start mutilating people in a basement. So everything and anything you do could eventually turn you into a murderer.. nice logic you got there.. Propaganda is fail but it always wins.. Anyone who blames their own actions because of a video game or a movie should be classed insane and put into a mental asylum in regards to the safety of the public. Another note.. by raising the age restriction of any product will just make the under-age want it even more.. and I promise you they will get hold of it by any means necessary (heck i've seen kids stand outside of a shop and ask random adults to buy them age restricted items and they always get what they want)

ferus_prime
ferus_prime

How much money was spent on this study? Just out of curiosity, How much money and time did this study take... Why wasn't I invited to sit back and mellow out playing video games for science? It's only hormone fueled teens that get uppity, and even then that's hormones over the game itself.

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

The writing is on the wall for a good result at the SCAG meeting but I don't want to get my hopes up just yet.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

@evilkenshin1 The Christian Lobby is losing steam pretty fast. I've read the website article and the CL guy is adamant that the study shows that violent videogames make people violent. What he hasn't done is play the videogames to prove his point. He's far too hasty in my view. Anyway, thanks for the update.

nurnberg
nurnberg

I think the only people who might have increased agression from video games are very stupid people who can't see the difference between fantasy and real life. However, the vast majority of gamers are not affected.

Barighm
Barighm

There is a link, there isn't a link, there is a link, there isn't a link...I wish they'd just stop already. @ExtremePhobia There is already such a system in place. Problem is many parents buy the games for their kids anyway and just don't care about the ratings.

scarecrow025
scarecrow025

Alcohol is responsible for more violence than video games will ever be. It is (legally) only available to people aged over 18. An R18+ rating won't make games more violent, it will limit the availability of games that are currently available to anyone - that's not a bad thing.

AceBalls
AceBalls

I get far more aggressive when I accidentally switch my TV channel to 'video hits'.

Angel_Belial
Angel_Belial

Good news! It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

glennvolio
glennvolio

In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet.

ExtremePhobia
ExtremePhobia

@thisranks I think the fear is that if impressionable minds become violent because of these games at a young age then they might not learn personal responsibility. And I think that they are trying to prevent murder more than they are trying to prevent creating killers. I suspect that the government doesn't care if a child develops into a violent person if they never act on it. Same goes for they "But it's the parents job" argument. Sure, it's their job. But you can't make them do their job and if they fail to follow through, the damage isn't just that the kid could turn out screwed up, it's that that failure could lead to someone innocent getting harmed. That said, I think that stores should be prohibited from selling these games to children. The children wouldn't actually have the material withheld from them, it would just mean the parents would have to be involved in the child getting this game. It would be more like a TV or Internet filter that defaults to on rather than a censor.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

PS - We promise we won't change the spawn points on Black Ops because some people really like them, even if most of you don't. You see, changing spawn points is hard work... It just is, ok? I probably shouldn't be in the bathtub with a laptop, but good thing the laptop is filled with money and not water.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

I actually work for the writing team for Treyarch. My other post was the plot for CoD:Australian Uprising. Our animators don't have all the cutscenes done yet, and our programmers are working on Map Packs for Black Ops and this new game. We will release it in 2011... Probably mid-Novemberish.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

thisranks
thisranks

Personal responsibility>all other arguments. There is no way in this damned world that i would believe someone who said "a game made me do it", and any idiot that does believe it needs to learn personal responsibility as well.

Clarkinator
Clarkinator

@lord_kabab I do the same thing. Every once in a while you get annoyed so what I do is log into a shooter to vent my rage at some NPC's cause I can actually fight them or fight others online and get put in my place with my low KDR.

Krystyan68
Krystyan68

Does that include violence against game controllers when struggling with a frustrating control scheme??

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

supdotcom
supdotcom

Violent games help us keep the violence in the games, its helping us maintain peace in our society. People just blame video games for their violence as an excuse.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Here's another blow to R18+ opponents. As if interactive violent video games is going to turn gamers into hot headed killing machine. It would be funny if Crosshair decides to do a skit in which video games influence them to do stupid things. I guess they won't do that anymore. It could've been worse. I don't even think porno films would do the same thing in a sexy way. No evidence of that for sure. Take note anti-R18+ supporters: there's no evidence that entertainment can turn people into murdering rampage killers.

lord_kabab
lord_kabab

For me, Violent video games keep me calm if anything, lets me get my (if any) violent thoughts out of my head, again, that is if I have any, I'm usually a very peaceful being. I'd like to quote the above passage: "carefully considering the pros and cons ". I honestly, from a real perspective, can not find any viable cons to introducing it.

therealsomeguy
therealsomeguy

well its a start at any rate they are at least considering it

macca366
macca366

I honestly believe anyone driven to dangerously aggressive behaviour, supposedly by violent video games, already had a problem to begin with, which would of manifested anyway

majikninja69
majikninja69

damn straight theirs no link, kids that have behavioral problems tend to be with ether the parents & lack of discipline or just straight out little bastards. Ive been playing games since i was 7 & i'm 25 now, i have never acted out a sense of violent or aggression because of games, i was brought up to know the difference & know body is holding a gun to your head to let your children to play violent games its up to you, the individual.

benboz
benboz

I play a lot of violent games and I don't have any aggression issues. Like seriously, I have a lot of friends who play violent games and I don't see anything wrong with them.