It’s interesting to compare two studies that have been done on violent video games. In one, published in the June issue of Communication Monographs (which is devoted mainly to scientific and empirical investigations of communication processes. Link.), video games are painted in a good light. From the article:
… researchers found “no strong effects associated with aggression caused by this violent game,” said Dmitri Williams, the lead author of the study.
Nor was game play a predictor of aggressive behaviors. Compared with the control group, the players neither increased their argumentative behaviors after game play nor were significantly more likely to argue with their friends and partners.
While the game in question was Asheron’s Call 2, a fantasy based MMORPG, there is an element of violence in the game. You’re killing monsters, after all. Even if they are helpless giant rats. In the end, the article makes a couple other good points. It says that games and their effects are complicated and that, “If the content, context, and play length have some bearing on the effects, policy-makers should seek a greater understanding of the games they are debating. It may be that both the attackers and defenders of the industry’s products are operating without enough information, and are instead both arguing for blanket approaches to what is likely a more complicated phenomenon.” It also says that kids run home from school, where they are bored, to run home to play games and “solve problems.” There must be something good about that!
Now, contrast that to a study that is constantly touted by super-lawyer Jack Thompson, by researchers at Indiana University. (Can we really trust a university that employed Bobby Knight for decades? I kid, I kid). Anyway, this study’s subjects were, “aggressive adolescents diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders (DBD)”. It would take a super genuis like JT to use a study of “aggressive adoloscents” to prove the point that violent video games have an effect on them. That’s like doing a study of thirsty people to find out if
hydrogen dioxide dihydrogen oxide dihydrogen monoxide ( thanks, Bobster thanks, Good Chem Student) made them feel better. The study proved that aggresive kids’ brains react differently to stimulus than “normal” kids do. This may not be obvious but it seems to logically follow that kids who already suffer from “disruptive behavior disorder” would of course be excited by violent media. The study doesn’t really do much to prove that violent media has negative effects on “normal” kids.
I find it interesting to see what sources of “proof” each side of the violent video game argument uses.
(This was also mentioned on GGA here)