Do video games make us violent?
For many years, the media has fueled the rumor that video games with violent themes represent a very important risk factor in the development of behaviors of the same nature in young people.
Even for a while, it was hinted that RPGs were very dangerous tools because their players could actually believe the character they played.
Videogames: do they make us more violent or aggressive?
Back in the spring of the year 2000, a 16-year-old boy brutally murdered his parents and his nine-year-old sister with a katana and, after his acts, was named "The killer of the katana." Despite the seriousness of the crime, what made it tremendously media was the fact that, for some time, the media claimed that the murderer had committed his acts as he was strongly influenced by Squall, protagonist of the videogame Final Fantasy VIII, which led many people to stigmatize video games and role-playing games.
This article will not focus on how the media distort information or on the reactance shown by society in the face of the technological change that videogames have brought. The text focuses on find out the truth behind the binomial violence-videogames in order to get rid of social prejudices and show the true correlation.
The reality of the consequences of violent video games
The reality of the matter at present, is uncertain due to the lack of studies in this regard. However, the evidence supports mainly that video games are not guilty of producing violent behavior in their players, beyond what a violent movie or a crime novel can produce.
The truth is, that over the years, the amount of video games with violent content has been increasing , as well as the explicitness and the realism of them. But it is even more true that the level of violence among young people has been considerably reduced, in turn (C. J. Ferguson, 2010). Despite this argument, which for many would be highly enlightening on the reality of the involvement of videogames in youth violence, there are authors who strive to demonstrate the opposite, as is the case of Anderson (2004), who published a review of Several articles in which he concluded that as more studies are carried out in relation to violence and videogames, the relationship between them is clearer.
Studies for all tastes
On the other hand, other studies conducted by the research community say that the relationship between video games and violence is highly exaggerated on a daily basis, as is the case of Tear and Nielsen (2003) who conducted three experiments trying to prove that video games they diminished prosocial behavior or, in other words, the performance of socially accepted actions, obtaining results that denied their hypothesis. Another example of a similar study was carried out by Parker et al. (2013) who tried to demonstrate their hypothesis that videogames and television were strong predictors of behavior problems and where they discovered that this is not the case in the case of videogames .
As we see, There is a strong polarity in terms of the violence generated by video games. . This polarization is based on the divergence of results shown by the different studies conducted on the violence-videogame relationship, which could be explained to a large extent by the limitations that these studies suffer and that we will comment on below.
Causes of polarity in the study of the violence-videogame relationship
The main fault that the results in the studies that are responsible for assessing the relationship between video games with violent content and violence shown by young people, has, for the most part, the great difficulty to objectify this type of research (CJ Ferguson, 2010).
Measuring the level of violence is not an easy task and in fact, many standardized measures of violence, at the moment of truth, do not correlate in a positive way with real aggressive behavior, which generates that in many occasions, part of the results obtained are not one hundred percent true. In addition to this, lUnfortunately, videogames are not for the moment an object of study that interests large masses of researchers , so that a large part of these studies, are detailed studies, with low resources and therefore, only a small part of them manage to be published in magazines or widely disseminated media. To this, it should be added that in general, the effects of third variables such as gender, genetics, social context, etc. are not usually taken into account.
However, the most damaging and serious of these limitations is undoubtedly the apparent effort of many authors to aggravate the results obtained, exaggerating or omitting those that are contradictory, in order to see their study published and doing a disservice to the community of researchers and the development of video games.
Psycogaming's vision on the matter
Our vision of the relationship between violence and video games is clear. Our training and our experience make us see that this relationship does not correlate significantly , being a factor of low impact and always taking into account the sum of other factors much more serious as the socio-cultural level or the presence of family violence.
Additionally, we believe strongly thanks to research such as that of Barlett et al. (2009) or the aforementioned Ferguson (2010) and experience, that video games are powerful educational tools that are capable, being used correctly, to improve and enhance cognitive abilities such as creativity, attention, concentration and space-visual performance, among others. In addition, obviously they are very effective leisure tools and an alternative method of reading and thinking to young people who, at present, are strongly rooted in technology.
- Anderson, C. A. (2004). An update on the effects of playing violent computer games. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 113-122.
- Barlett, P. C .; Vowels, L. C .; Shanteau, J .; Crow, J. & Miller, T. (2009). The effect of violent and non-violent computer games on cognitive performance. Computers in Human Behavior. Vol. 25, 96-102.
- Ferguson, C. J. (2010). Blazing Angels or Resident Evil? Can Violent Video Games Be a Force for Good ?. Review of General Psychology. APA. Vol. 14 (2), 68-81.
- Parkes, A., Sweeting, H., Wight, D. & Henderson, M. (2013). Do television and electronic games predict children's psychosocial adjustment? Longitudinal research using the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Arch Dis Child Vol. 98, 341-348.
- Tear, M. J. & Nielsen, M. (2013). Failure to demonstrate that playing violent video games diminishes prosocial behavior. PLOS ONE. Vol. 8 (7), 1-7.