Blog Post

What Effects Do Violent Video Games Have on Players?

We receive many questions about video games on this blog, which is why this recent study about the impact of these games upon youth caught my attention. I believe it will be of interest to anyone who has a loved one who is addicted to video gaming.

According to the Daily Mail, a new study has found that playing a violent video game for just one hour over a three-day period is enough to increase aggressive behavior.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University Pierre Mendhs-France and the University of Hohenheim, Germany. It involved 70 French university students who were asked to play either a violent or a non-violent video game for 20 minutes every day for three consecutive days.

The games chosen were Condemned 2, Call of Duty 4 and The Club, while those in the non-violent group played S3K Superbike, Dirt2 and Pure.

After playing each game, students participated in additional tests which are used to test aggression, such as creating a list of 20 things a person might do after being rear-ended by another driver.

"Results showed that after each day, those who played the violent games had an increase in their hostile expectations - meaning they were more likely to think the characters would react with aggression or violence," the Mail reports.

The results, which were published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, confirm earlier studies which found that a single violent gaming session can increase short term aggression. But this one is the first to show longer-term effects.

"It's important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games," said lead author Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State University.

"Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won't cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression."

Researchers do not yet know what impact a steady diet of video games would have on a person, but it is not expected to be a good one.

Admitting that it would be "impossible" to know how much aggression might increase for those who play video games for months or years, "these results suggest there could be a cumulative effect," Bushman said.

"Hostile expectations are probably not the only reason that players of violent games are more aggressive, but our study suggests it is certainly one important factor."

Researchers would know more if they could test players over a longer period of time, but that would be neither practical noor ethical, Bushman said.

"I would expect that the increase in aggression would accumulate for more than three days. It may eventually level off. However, there is no theoretical reason to think that aggression would decrease over time, as long as players are still playing the violent games."

The bottom line is that "People who have a steady diet of playing these violent games may come to see the world as a hostile and violent place."

This is hardly a healthy outlook on life.