Yet another study has confirmed what most of us already knew; there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that playing violent video games leads to aggressive behaviour in teens.
The idea that games such as Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, and DOOM are responsible for school shootings, murder, and general aggression in teenagers is an old, tired concept that keeps being disproven.
Not that this ever stops those who want to believe that games make people violent though, because if you’ve got blind belief on your side, why let something as trivial as a peer reviewed study based on objective fact stand in the way.
The Independent has reported that researchers at the University of Oxford have published one of the ‘most comprehensive studies to date’, finding zero evidence of increased aggression in teens who spent the last month playing violent games.
Lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute said:
The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time. Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.
He did go on to point out online games had a tendency of provoking angry outbursts, such as trash talking, swearing, and trolling in gaming communities ‘that could qualify as antisocial behaviour’.
While the Australian and Swedish governments have both decided there’s nowhere near enough evidence to link games and real life violence to call for any kind of restrictions beyond the standard parental guidance ratings, that hasn’t stopped other parts of the world from continuing their attack on mature games.
Just recently, in fact, US lawmakers in Pennsylvania suggested something called a ‘sin tax’ be introduced to violent video games, or any game rated M by the ESRB, in fact. This proposal would effectively hike up the price of mature video games, with the extra cash going to a fund dedicated to preventing school shootings.
The Entertainment Software Association has already opposed this proposed bill, telling Variety in a statement:
The U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association & Entertainment Software Association that video games are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution, and that efforts, like Pennsylvania’s, to single out video games based on their content will be struck down. We encourage Pennsylvania legislators to work with us to raise awareness about parental controls and the ESRB video game rating system, which are effective tools to ensure parents maintain control over the video games played in their home.
I’m not sure how many more studies need to be published before we can all accept games aren’t making kids violent, but I somehow doubt this one will finally do the trick.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.