Violent games mostly 'harmless' - Study

Review of General Psychology deems aggressive software safe for vast majority of youths--but can harm ones with preexisting mental health issues.

by

The Internet is a hotbed for sensationalist accounts of the destructive capability of violent video games. But among the muck, there are legitimate sources posting relevant and factual accounts. Studies published in a recent special issue of the journal Review of General Psychology, found that violent video games show no conclusive correlation with aggressive behavior in youth and explained how the issue is multifaceted and complex.

Boom headshot? Perhaps not.

Christopher J. Ferguson, an assistant professor specializing in aggression, culture, and applied social psychology at Texas A&M International University, stated in the document that violent video games are like the malleable toast spread.

"Violent video games are like peanut butter; they are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with preexisting personality or mental health problems," he said.

Further, he postulates that violent video games are not to blame in the creation of the "generation of problem youngsters." His research suggests that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe have scored higher on standardized tests, had fewer behavioral problems, and were engaged in fewer accounts of violent behavior.

Another scholar attached to the findings is Patrick Markey, an associate professor of psychology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He says a person's personality traits are the source material for understanding why an individual reacts the way her or she does to violent video games. He found in a study of 118 teenagers that those who play violent video games while they are "upset, depressed, emotional, or indifferent to the feelings of others," are likely to reactive negatively and become hostile following the media attachment.

Discussion

95 comments
SuperYeti22
SuperYeti22

I have a bone to pick with the people who say that violent games make people do violent things. Imagine all of the lives that would've been saved if Jeffery Dahmer didn't play Fallout 3, or if Jack the Ripper didn't play GTA4, or if Hitler Osama Bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein didn't play Call of Duty, or if Gordon Northcott didn't play Heavy Rain. Not to mention there was a lot of violence BEFORE there were modern violent games that we know today. The theory that violent games make people do violent things is COMPLETE BULLS**T!!!

Maelstrom52
Maelstrom52

I think it's great that this study came out, but in all honesty, how many of these things are they gonna do? I thought the debate was over and it was agreed upon a long time ago that games don't make people violent. I just don't understand why this argument is still going on. Face it right-wing detractors, the argument is over....you lost. If you look at my profile, the main banner picture is graph showing the violent crime rate among minors over the past 20 or so years. Notice how it has gradually declined since the introduction of games like Mortal Kombat and GTA 3.

Ted_Zanarukando
Ted_Zanarukando

I have played the same types of video games of several genres for a long time since childhood, such as RPGs, action/adventure, fighting, shooter, racing, and puzzle games and I have never been desensitized into real world violence. Rockstar did not fund the aforementioned study. Normal people do not get desensitized to aggressive behavior. Only corrupt or mentally ill people do. One thing to reinforce this study s that it also depends on the culture and society surrounding the gamers, or what country you live in. Those who live under governments that feature the "get-tough-on-crime" approach, or those who live under authoritarian regimes, are most likely to be desensitize to aggressive behavior. Violence and sexuality have existed long before computers and television were invented.

buckybuckster
buckybuckster

Uh...there must be some kind of mistake. A group of psychologists conduct a study on the effects of violent video games on the behavior of kids and they side with us!!? Who funded this study anyway......Rockstar???

majere613
majere613

Don't be fooled! They may be 'mostly harmless' now, but once they've run a few loads of slaves and narcotics between Leesti and Diso and shot up plenty of Vipers, they'll be 'dangerous' before you know it! If that made no sense to you, rejoice in your youth :)

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Well of course it will harm those with preexisting mental health issues. But the same applies to all forms of media: TV, gaming, film, advertising, magazines, the internet, etc etc. Even so, violence has existed as long as life has. People are just constantly looking for a scapegoat and it does my head in.

akiwak
akiwak

I've been gaming since I was 7 years old and I've played mostly all the games out there. Now 23 years later(yes I'm 30) I have not had a single violent outburst. I've also served in the armed forces, have a home, good paying job, and am raising a son. Games have never been the issue!!!

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Finally, someone speaks the truth !!!

ShAbInAtOr
ShAbInAtOr

alright...gamespot is doing this so that more people will buy shooting games! It's like backing up your products: gamestop.com = gamespot.com

prioritymail
prioritymail

Hopefully enough of these studies will take away from the stigma of violent games

dstv
dstv

if only someone could show this to my dad...he thinks that since all i do is play shooters then i should join the army

Dan21278
Dan21278

Only fools let a video game negatively influence them. We have to remember no matter how life like it's a GAME.

King_Gamer19
King_Gamer19

DantheMan9856 Sorry but really don't care

SeargantGoat
SeargantGoat

Luckily there is a ratings system in place for video games, which, if abided by, will assist any parent that is concerned about the content of a given product. The responsibility, as always, relies with the parents of young children, but it's good to know that this study is able to prove that there really isn't a link between the two. Like another poster said, it's simple common sense to distinguish between violence in video games and violence in reality.

fionndruinne
fionndruinne

Most of the studies which correlate youth violence and video games show significant bias and are unreliable. There are a few researchers in particular (Anderson for one, and cohorts) who have a major bone to pick with the video game industry, and are constantly bringing to the table new studies and counter-studies to prove that video games harm people. The reality of the matter is as this study states it - it is far more likely to aggravate preexisting conditions. That said, it IS common sense to keep very young children from extensively playing violent games such as FPS or fighting games.

wyan_
wyan_

@ mtnjak moreover: at least two young, spoiled brats who think they are entitled to anything they desire. Watch the negs fly in now.

mtnjak
mtnjak

Wow, I can tell from 2 negatives in my post below that there are at least a couple of you out there who don't have kids.

Takeno456
Takeno456

Finally an article that supports common sense. Most people know the difference between real and fake. It is usually a few already unstable people who bring down the heat on everyone else.

pinicilin
pinicilin

to MTNJAK: Game site that Gamespot is, choosing the stories that are related to videogames. When negative news comes out it is very much covered as well.

mtnjak
mtnjak

This is actually contrary to other studies that have shown just the opposite. Pre-existing mental condition or not, young children, according to research shouldn't be exposed to violent video games. Just like how very young children (pre-school and younger) should have limited exposure to television (period) due to an immature brain trying to process rapidly moving images to help prevent ADD type learning problems. I like Gamespot but I find it interesting that they pick a news story that looks favorably at video games rather than non-favorably. In the end, it's really just common sense that you don't let your kids (young kids) play violent video games.

krytorii
krytorii

Video games are just a scapegoat. Same thing happened with hippies in the 60's/70's, rock and roll before then and even before that it was cocaine, heroine and morphine which were commonly taken and socially accepted in the middle classes round about the year 1900.

ChiliDragon
ChiliDragon moderator

What's frustrating is that there's far too many people out there who will ignore this study, and any other that finds the same thing. They know better. They know, just like their own parents did, that the source of all the problems of today's youth is in the whatever it is that they never had available when they themselves grew up, and have difficulties understanding. There's no other explanation, never. :roll:

comb5
comb5

I think alot of people are missing the significance of this article. This is a legit third-party source willing to go on record saying that violent videogames are not harmful to kids. Nobody has really ever bothered with that before and us gamers have been taking flak for it since the 90s.

northprophet
northprophet

A couple cool things going on in this study. First, someone getting the obvious on record; won't stop the abuse of the video game industry immediately, but it should help. Second, it helps dispel the "generation of problem youngsters" myth. Every generation of kids are a "generation of problem youngsters" to their elders. The ones complaining about kids now were the generation of hippies that were going to "ruin" the social fabric of America back in the '60s and '70s, and those complainers were complained about when they were kids, etc. etc. ad nausium.

Sins-of-Mosin
Sins-of-Mosin

So in other words.... If you are normal, you will stay normal. If you are crazy, it might help you only take two years instead of four years before you need to take meds.

MasterofZar
MasterofZar

So this is saying that people with preexisting mental conditions already have mental conditions and that moderation is a good thing... Wow, what a good way to spend money, its not like there are alot of people looking for work at the moment or theres the odd war and enviromental disater occurring... oh wait a second...

shkar
shkar

Bottom line is : Video Games are harmless,,,as a matter of fact some of them are benefitial..........so stop this none sense......End of Discussion....

strayfies
strayfies

Well of course they're MOSTLY harmless. MOST players of violent video-games don't go on to commit felonies. This isn't something anyone ought to learn from a study, the evidence is here and has been here for decades.

monson21502
monson21502

Violent games is like buying your kid a punching bag. they get to release stress and dont hurt no one.

MonkeySeeker
MonkeySeeker

@shani_boy101 - I doubt it. Like most anti-anything groups they'll simply ignore anything that indicates they are wrong or find some way to twist everything to suit their pathetic little arguments.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

No $#/?, I've been saying that for a long time, if you're already messed up you don't even need video games to make you crazy and if you're not then video games won't turn you psycho.

pengo93
pengo93

@bardos-the-3rd That darn rock and roll music. Chances are this study will be ignored by family first organisations and religious fundamentalists. *sigh* Who gave them political power?

Apocolypse_Cow
Apocolypse_Cow

"The report goes on to say that 'fire is too hot to touch,' in addition to making claims that the sky is blue, and zebras are not people."

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

This is a known fact. I have been playing every violent and disgusting game in the world, and many creepy games. yet I'm still a good dude minding my own business and want everyone to live happily and want peace for this world. Games don't kill people, people do.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

Well this might shutup those extremist anti-videogame types for a while.

another_drew
another_drew

to all of you who are complaining saying this study was a waste because it states obvious, this study is exactly what the world needs today. sure it is obvious that problems teens who play violent video games make up 99.999999% of all violent behavior, but there are still lawmakers and political powers who would like to believe otherwise. if it was so obvious as to what caused these violent acts, studies like this wouldn't even be taking place. lawsuits against RockStar would never exist. but that is not how things are. we live in a world where everything is to blame for our actions but ourselves, and it's guys like Mr. Ferguson that we need on our side. so all of you who are dogging this article because it "states the obvious," you obviously have no idea of the ongoing political battle video game companies face.

EllisYourFace88
EllisYourFace88

I killed a hooker once, but I only did it cuz GTA told me too.

Flint247
Flint247

The picture for this article is priceless. XD

BloodMist
BloodMist

And once again a statistical study confirms what is obvious to anyone who isn't a total idiot.

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

I've been saying the same thing forever. How much money is wasted on studies with obvious outcomes?! Next up: people who aren't suffocating tend to be happier than those who are!

BallisstiXXX
BallisstiXXX

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

BallisstiXXX
BallisstiXXX

Leave it to a Texan to make sense in this odd world. Gig em Aggies :D

cheater87
cheater87

I hope this is used so the video game banning bill will not go into affect.

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

OMFZG! I never knew this, finally I can play games without worrying that I'll shoot up my neighbors and their fluffy dogs! Seriously, it's good that they officially are saying it...but it's kind of been there done that to think that games make cool people into serial killers. And anyway I'm so sick of all this attention at video-game violence, with NONE at the movies industry.

Flint247
Flint247

@eBenti @DarthPlush Okay.

eBentl
eBentl

@Flint247 Actually people do talk about music and movies, especially music, Marilyn Manson anyone? We're hardly the only ones being hit by the blame game, nice to see some evidence against it though!

DarthPlush
DarthPlush

@Flint247 Video games have the "interactivity" element, which is why they are blamed moreso than other media. For example, first-person shooters see you doing the shooting, while in a movie you see someone else doing the shooting.

bennae66
bennae66

people who are nuts will be nuts whether they play games or stroke animals. actually id be alot more scared of the person who was nuts, who frequently stroked animals...

Ted_Zanarukando
Ted_Zanarukando

The bottom line is that media violence desensitizes only a small minority of people with preexisting mental health issues to real world violence. Media violence DOES NOT desensitize normal people to real world violence. I had behavoral problems when I was in school back in the 1980s and the 1990s, but video games were not as popular then as they are now. The video games of my school age were mostly in 2D. The students of the 1980s and the 1990s scored lower on standardized tests, had more behavioral problems, and were engaged in more accounts of violent behavior than the students of the 21st century. Again video games are not to blame for the creation fo a generation of problem youth.