Study challenges common assumptions of violent video games


Pamela Joe McFarlane

The common belief that violent video games encourage violent behavior is not as sound as many think. While there may be a correlation between these two, there is insufficient proof of causation.

What comes to mind when games like “Grand Theft Auto” and “Mortal Kombat” come up?

Due to their violent nature and explicit debauchery, the question often asked is: do they directly affect the user in a violent manner? In the wake of many shootings and everyday acts of violence, the debate is still relevant.

In a study called “Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data”, conducted by research scientists at Rutgers and Villanova University, it was found that violent video games evidently do not lead to increases in violent behavior.

“The biggest ‘take home’ of this study is that violent video games were not related to increases in violent crime – not even a little,” stated Professor Markey, a researcher on the study. reports that in a study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, researchers found that the playing of video games actually had a very slight calming effect on youth. Millions of people play these games, yet only a handful commit acts like mass shootings. It’s clear some people will try to mimic and copy what they see on TV, whether it’s a game or a celebrity.

Although recent studies indicate that violent video games don’t correlate to violent behavior, people still argue to the contrary. Many want these games banned or put on high restriction because of their promotion of violence. This is alarming, because it hints to how people might base their claims on ignorance rather than facts derived from studies. In turn, video games are unjustly used as scapegoats for violent behavior.

When society looks at a violent video game and automatically assumes it must be the catalyst for violent behavior without looking at other aspects of the individual or society itself, we are basing something off appearances rather than looking at the facts; this is both sad and frightening.

Professor Markey puts it best in saying, “…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.”

Perhaps a start to the resolution of this debate would be for people to look at the things around an individual that may influence them to commit violent acts. These could include mental health, family problems and their community’s culture. Looking at a violent video game and assuming it is the cause for violent behavior is not just ignorant, but also a dangerous game.