Yet another study confirms that video games don’t lead to real-world violence
A University of Oxford study published earlier this year confirms – yet again – that playing violent video games does not lead to real-world violence. Published in The Royal Society, the study is described by Oxford University as “one of the most definitive to date, using a combination of subjective and objective data to measure teen aggression and violence in games.”
The data was taken from a representative sample of 14- and 15-year old teenagers, and the same number of their caretakers, for a total of over two thousand subjects. Previous research on the connections (or rather, lack thereof) relied heavily on self-reported data from teenagers, while the Oxford University study used information from both parents and caretakers to judge the level of aggressive behavior in their children. The Oxford study also used data from the official Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system to determine the level of violence present in any particular video game, rather than use the game player’s perceptions of the amount of violence in a game.
These results are no surprise to anyone who follows the issue of video game violence. Not only is there virtually zero scientifically valid evidence linking video games to real-world acts of violence, there are even indications that the reverse is true (See here and here), that playing video games decreases violent tendencies. The explanation perfectly reasonable: video games, particularly violent ones, offer a sense of catharsis for gamers who may be experiencing real-world frustrations. The real world is messy, confusing, and oftentimes unjust. Why wouldn’t a troubled mind find solace in a manufactured world with a consistent set of rules, clearly-defined objectives and predictable outcomes?
Sadly, no matter how widely reported or extensively cited, the results of this Oxford study probably won’t make much of a difference. In a few months, some political demagogue with a messiah complex and their dutifully compliant media outlets will conveniently forget that this, and the many other studies like it, exist. They don’t want facts. They don’t want truth. They only want an excuse to regulate something that they don’t like – to rewrite history with the purpose of manufacturing a future in their own moral image.
You can read the full Oxford study here. Or you can read studies that reach similar conclusions below (there are many more – this search only took 5-10 minutes). That way, the next time an opportunistic politician, a scam artist with a social sciences degree or Captain Kangaroo tells you that
rap music comic books rock and roll video games cause misogyny racism violence, kindly shove these right up their critical lens.
- U.S. Secret Service and Department of Education (Joint)
- The University of York
- The Journal of Molecular Psychiatry
- The Journal of Communication
- Frontiers in Psychology
- The Journal of Psychology and Media Culture
- The International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
- The Southern Economic Journal