Latest Research on Violent Video Games Finds No Link to Real-Life Violence

Video Games and Violence

As the latest ‘Call of Duty’ video game is released today, research shows that violent video games do not lead to increased violence.

Mass media and general public often link violent video games to real-life violence, although there is limited evidence to support the link.

Debate on the topic generally intensifies after mass public shootings, with some commentators linking these violent acts to the perpetrators’ interests in violent video games.

However, others have pointed out that different factors, such as mental health issues and/or easy access to guns, are more likely explanations.

Agne Suziedelyte

Dr. Agne Suziedelyte, author of the study ‘Is it only a game? Video games and violence’ published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

In the light of these conflicting claims, President Obama called in 2013 for more government funding for research on video games and violence.

But before governments introduce any policies restricting access to violent video games, it is important to establish whether violent video games do indeed make players behave violently in the real world.

Research by Dr. Agne Suziedelyte, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at City, University of London, provides evidence of the effects of violent video game releases on children’s violent behavior using data from the US.

Dr. Suziedelyte examined the effects of violent video games on two types of violence: aggression against other people, and destruction of things/property.

The study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, focused on boys aged 8-18 years – the group most likely to play violent video games.

Dr. Suziedelyte used econometric methods that identify plausibly causal effects of violent video games on violence, rather than only associations.

She found no evidence that violence against other people increases after a new violent video game is released. Parents reported, however, that children were more likely to destroy things after playing violent video games.

Dr. Suziedelyte said: “Taken together, these results suggest that violent video games may agitate children, but this agitation does not translate into violence against other people – which is the type of violence which we care about most.

“A likely explanation for my results is that video game playing usually takes place at home, where opportunities to engage in violence are lower. This ‘incapacitation’ effect is especially important for violence-prone boys who may be especially attracted to violent video games.

“Therefore, policies that place restrictions on video game sales to minors are unlikely to reduce violence.”

Reference: “Is it only a game? Video games and violence” by Agne Suziedelyte, 4 June 2021, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.05.014

1 Comment on "Latest Research on Violent Video Games Finds No Link to Real-Life Violence"

  1. “Therefore, policies that place restrictions on video game sales to minors are unlikely to reduce violence.”

    It may have a small impact that is essentially immeasurable because the acts of violence are not universal. That is, another obvious relationship is that not all adolescent boys are affected the same. There may be an all important subgroup that gets lost in the noise. After all, homicide is a fairly rare occurrence. By analogy, some people are allergic to things like peanuts. The majority of people are not affected. It is therefore important to identify those who do not handle certain environmental triggers well.

    Feminists are adamant that pornography has detrimental effects on those who view it, such as being de-sensitized to mistreatment of women and objectifying them. It is not such a leap that violent video games have a similar effect, at least on some.

    Advertising is a huge business throughout the world. If those managing companies didn’t think that advertising could affect the buying habits or behavior of people, they wouldn’t spend the money on advertising. Just showing a particular brand of product in a popular Hollywood movie is considered a welcome advertising opportunity. Could it be that the prevalence of guns in Hollywood movies instills a desire in the immature mind of an adolescent to emulate what they see in the movie? That is, they would want to own something similar? Once they own it, what are they going to do with it?

    I think that the research leaves a lot to be desired!

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