Video Games: they don't make you violent
For years, people have said that video games make people violent. Of course, it was Pac Man, running around chasing pills to repetitive music in a darkened cube that kickstarted Acid House, and Jet Set Willy was wholly responsible for toffs to drink so much booze that they saw all manner of hellish visions while tidying up the glassware.
However, a study (along with thousands of other studies that both support and contradict each other) is showing that violent games (and films) aren't making people violent at all. It is almost like human beings are able to differentiate between real life and fiction!
The report, published in the Journal of Communication, involved two studies which looked at how we're influenced by games and also questioned previous studies that have linked real-life and pretend violence.
Christopher Ferguson, a psychologist from Stetson University in Florida, headed up the two studies. The first investigation saw a comparison between US homicide rates between 1920 and 2005 to instances of violence in motion pictures. Ferguson found that there was a vague correlation between the two during the '50s, but since then, it was reversed.
The second study looked at the consumption of violent video games to see if they correlated with youth violence rates over the past 20 years. They found that playing video games actually contributed to a decreasing of figures of violent crimes committed by 12-to-17 year olds.
Ferguson said: "The degree to which laboratory studies faithfully capture the media experience is also debatable. Many such studies provide exposure to only brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences, in which violence exposure is outside of a narrative context. The resultant aggressive behaviours are also outside a real-world context, in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves, who provide the opportunity for aggression."
“Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime,” said Ferguson in a press statement. “There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health. This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value.”
Oxford University also conducted their own research into this, and found that video games only make people more aggressive if there's bad in-game mechanics and glitchy programming, rather than the actual violence in the game. And violence invariably only translates into someone swearing at the ether and throwing their joypad across the house.
Still, while we're at it, let us remind ourselves of the toe-curling Alan Titchmarsh Show where they debated violence in games, which also starred the very anti-gaming Julie Peasgood, who of course, did voice work for the game 'Martian Gothic', which features zombies eating human flesh and huge amounts of violence.