Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
September 2, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 2, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Do violent video games cause violent behavior? Here's what the UK thinks
Do violent video games cause violent behavior? Here's what the UK thinks
September 23, 2013 | By Mike Rose

September 23, 2013 | By Mike Rose
Comments
    37 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



The debate surrounding whether video games cause real-world violence and aggression continues to rage on as it always has -- especially with the launch of Grand Theft Auto V last week.

A new study from UK-based market research firm YouGov this week suggests that the more familiar a person is with video games in general, the less they believe that there is a connection between in-game violence and real-life violence.

Dr. Andrew Przybylski, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, surveyed nearly 2,000 adults in the UK, with a wide ranging mix of ages, beliefs and experience with video games. Of those surveyed, around 53 percent said they play games, with 19 percent saying they play games "most days."

The survey found that 61 percent of UK residents believe that playing video games can be a cause of real-world violence and aggression.

Breaking down the data reveals far more interesting statistics, however. Take the age break-down, for example -- most of the people surveyed between the ages of 18 and 39 disagreed that video games caused real-life aggression, while an overwhelming number of 60+ year olds said there was a link (79 percent, in fact).

Generation Gap 3.png
In other words, the older the person surveyed, the more likely they were to believe that there's a connection between video game violence and real-life violence. The older people surveyed also were more likely to disagree that video games can be utilized as an outlet for frustrations and aggression.

The experience and gender gaps

There were other notable gaps beside the age correlation -- both gender and video game experience were picked out as part of the report.

71 percent of the women surveyed said that they believe violent video games can cause real-world aggression. This compared to 48 percent of men who agreed there was a connection.

And when looking at those people who have played games versus those who have no experience with games, the results are as you'd expect: 74 percent of those surveyed who don't play games said games can cause aggression and violence, while 47 percent of those who play games agreed there was a connection.

Players who had experience with violent games, however, disagreed far more that there is a connection. 35 percent of people who play violent video games said violent games can lead to real-world violence.


Related Jobs

Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Santa Monica, California, United States
[09.02.14]

Gameplay Programmer
Big Fish Games
Big Fish Games — Seattle, Washington, United States
[09.02.14]

Engineering Manager- Studios
Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Santa Monica, California, United States
[09.02.14]

3D Artist
DoubleDown Interactive
DoubleDown Interactive — Seattle, Washington, United States
[09.02.14]

Principal Game Designer










Comments


Adam Bishop
profile image
I feel like the questions being asked around whether video games "cause" violence are the wrong ones to ask. The question basically seems to be something along the lines of "If you take a normal person and have them play a game of Call of Duty will they suddenly develop violent tendencies?" To which the answer is obviously "No."

But there's a much more difficult question that I think is more worthwhile to examine and it's more like "Does long-term exposure to violence in video games have subtle effects which may make a person more aggressive than they would have been if they'd spent those hundreds of hours doing something else like hiking?"

I don't know the answer to that question. I do know that everyone is affected by their environment in subtle and often unconscious ways and that must be as true of video games as any other environmental factor. We are all products of our environment. If video games are part of that environment, then they must be affecting us. Picking out how and to what degree, those are tougher questions than "Does playing Grand Theft Auto turn normal people into psychopaths?"

Kujel s
profile image
I don't think violent games make people violent but they do inspire children to emulate them and that is of concern.

Ramin Shokrizade
profile image
I don't think video games cause any sort of behavior, other than possibly lack of behavior/movement and increased rates of obesity. What I DO believe interactive media does, and does well, is allow you to train the skills associated with the activity.

If the primary skill set in a game is shooting extremely realistic weapons at moving photorealistic targets, then I think the person doing that activity over and over for days, months, or years, becomes better at that. At some point it gets so automatic as to just be reflexive. Games like America's Army are careful to have death not be bloody or permanent because if players were trained to consider the consequences of their actions they might reconsider doing them.

Similarly, if you had a person play a cooking game for years, they might not be more likely to go cook something, but they would probably be a lot better at it if they tried, especially if it was a photorealistic cooking game. I would assume that if they spent that much time practicing virtual cooking, that they would be a lot less apprehensive about cooking in the real world than someone who had no experience of either sort.

I asked some coworkers about this. They said they might like to shoot or cook in games, but they hate to clean up. It seems most of these real world shooters end up dying in the process so maybe they don't like to clean up either but just would for once like to try the real thing after years of playing the same games over and over. There seems to be cases of people entering the military with similar motivations.

Richard Black
profile image
I don't think even the most realistic shooter at all prepares you for the real thing. It's not even a matter of graphics, it's just that you cannot even in military shooters move in any way similar to the way you would realisitically move and react in combat. I actually can't even play COD or supposedly serious shooters as i can't get over how childish and silly they seem given even rudimentry exposure to the real thing. On the other hand I quite enjoy system shock, bio shock, deus ex, even halo as shooters in sci fi settings don't push the same buttons for me or make me want to correct the game for doing something wrong or ludicrously stupid.

Dane MacMahon
profile image
We're all affected by media to an insane degree, and we all tend to deny this out of pride. It makes researching this difficult because everyone you talk to will deny it ever had an effect on them.

Johnathon Swift
profile image
Unfortunately that's an extremely hard study to pull off. But it sounds like a better study to do than this one, which just boils down to "do you think the thing you do for entertainment is bad?" which is pretty much always "no" in an answer.

Michael van Drempt
profile image
While the results are interesting, they're not convincing. Cognitive dissonance theory explains these peoples' beliefs just fine, and just because X number or even X type of people believe one thing or another says nothing about whether those beliefs are either well-founded or true.

Still, video games don't cause violence. Lack of cooperation and empathy cause violence, and violence world-wide is on the decline: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=history-and-the-
decline-of-human-violence

Nathan Destler
profile image
Yeah, I was hoping this would be a report of a literature review, not an opinion survey. The opinion survey is interesting, but tells us nothing at all about the truth value of the statement "video games cause violent behavior."

I will say that the question of video games causing violence is a little more complicated than that. Obviously they don't turn us all into psychopaths, but there is concern that they model violent behavior as acceptable or admirable, making us more likely to turn to violent solutions to problems with multiple violent and non-violent solutions. That's the theory, anyway. The literature is... complicated, last I checked.

Alex Covic
profile image
You know what? It would be great to have a study-group, being followed from birth, over 20+ years, of NOT playing video games, while residing in a post-WWI and WWII country and letting them live their lives otherwise, but in a completely game-agnostic society. No access to any video games. Not mentioning any video games, etc.

Let's see how fast they turn to violence and what caused it? Let's see what their brain comes up with? Peace & harmony? Like it did the last 2+ million years, no doubt?

Now THAT would be a(n impossible) study, worth reading?

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Josh Bowman
profile image
"A new study from UK-based market research firm YouGov this week suggests that the more familiar a person is with video games in general, the less they believe that there is a connection between in-game violence and real-life violence."

I think what this study indicates is fairly predictable: people can be nervous about things that they are unfamiliar with. In this case, there is a large age gap when it comes to familiarity.

Simon Ludgate
profile image
The question is logically weak.

The statement "Video games _CAN BE_ a cause of real-world violence" is true so long as we have one example of video games causing real-world violence.

I know of at least one story where a person killed someone else because a rare sword was stolen in an MMORPG. Therefore, this statement is true, and anyone who disagrees with it is simply uninformed or incorrect.

However, it is weak, like the statement "Exposure to RF radiation of the same frequency used by WiFi _CAN BE_ a cause of death." This is also true, but you'd have to be exposed to a sufficiently high energy blast to boil the water in your brain, which would be many billions of times more powerful than what WiFi routers emit.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_burns

In other words, the question is misleading: it makes it sound like a POSSIBLE cause is a PLAUSIBLE cause.

Perhaps they should instead ask: "Do you think that _INTERACTION_ with video game _VIOLENCE_ _IS LIKELY TO_ cause real-world violence." Note that we're interested in the interaction with the violence and its likelihood to induce violence in the real world, not merely the video games themselves or the possibility to induce violence.

Matthew Bockholt
profile image
I've never understood why it isn't obvious to people that naturally violent people will be naturally attracted to violent video games. Asking whether violent video games make people more violent is not the most relevant question (although I agree it is worth studying). These acts of violence existed long before video games did. Simply because a person that is proven to be violent (through acts of violence) plays violent video games, does not mean the games are the cause. It seems only natural that someone with violent tendencies would be attracted to those sorts of activities.

The real question is: How do we identify people with violent tendencies? In my opinion good parenting goes a long way. To clarify, I'm not saying that bad parents create violent children. What I am saying is that good parents, who are active in their children's lives and interested in their children's hobbies, are more likely to notice violent tendencies in their children and help them.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kujel s
profile image
The only problem with the good parenting argument is homsapiens as a speicies are very violent in general.

Rick Baltman
profile image
I'm sure this argument has been made before, but I think it's a relevant one:

Violent crime in the United States was steady at 50 victims per 1,000 people until 1994. By 2010, violent crime was down 70% to 15 victims per 1,000 people (U.S. Justice Department statistics).

As we all know, in that same time period, video game sales, which includes violent ones, are growing exponentially, from $5B in 1994 to $25B a year today.

So how can video games be contributing to crime rates when more people are playing video games than ever before and crime is lower today than ever before?

Today, criminals are simply more likely to also be video game players than any time in history.

Why do people conduct polls to get answers to these questions? Can the average knowledge of the general population really provide insight?

Andy Thomas
profile image
I have a problem with your use crime statistics and for good reason...crime rate statistics are unreliable because they don't take into account unreported crimes. Its for this reason whenever some government official play up shrinking crime rates I don't buy into it as the numbers are merely cooked up.

Patrick Mullen
profile image
In many cases I would agree with you, but the kind of violence we think of when we talk about "video games cause violence" is the kind of violence that gets reported. I also find it hard to believe that a shrinking statistic of violent crime is masking what would have to be a growing statistic of unreported violent crime, especially with our increasingly connected society. It's true that statistics are kind of a lie, but that doesn't mean you should totally discount them.

Jarod Smiley
profile image
@Rick, nope, insight will not be gained from this because it's simply the wrong question as many have stated above.

At this point, its just something to talk about, a job for someone to have, and money for someone to be made...

Andy Thomas
profile image
If I had a son or daughter I would rather them a play game like GTA V as oppose to them reading something The Iliad or One Thousand And One Nights. Why? to put it quite plainly, the content in those works of literature is far more extreme graphic/violent than any video game that have been made to date.

Jakub Majewski
profile image
I call "bullshit" on that. The reason extreme violence is tolerated in the written word is simply because its impact on the mind is completely different, and far weaker. No, the Iliad is not more graphic than GTA V. Neither is One Thousand And One Nights, nor the Bible, nor any other examples people like to point to.

Consider these two alternatives:

A paragraph describing in detail a man being sawn in half with a blunt saw.

A video depicting a man being killed in a relatively ordinary way - say, stabbed to death - but shown in equal detail, with ear-piercing screams and the like.

If you *had* to subject your children to enduring one of the above pieces of media, which would it be? Ideally, neither, but not having a choice? The paragraph, no doubts about it. At the end of the day, reading about blood spurting everywhere is not the same as seeing blood; reading about someone screaming in pain is not the same as hearing someone actually screaming.

Dane MacMahon
profile image
I think both methods of imagery conveyance are strong in different ways, but the idea of The Iliad being as graphic as GTA5's torture scene is kind of laughable, honestly.

I'm replaying GTA4 on PC right now and the number of missions where you slaughter police officers wholesale is kind of insane. It's presented with a satirical edge, but kids don't understand that. I would much rather my children read some fantasy violence literature.

Michael Uzdavines
profile image
I've played just about every mainstream violent video game in the last 30 years, and I can say that playing them made me less violent. I enjoy the heck out of playing them, but many times when I die in a war shooter, I think that in real life when that happens, there's no respawn and tons of lives are affected by that one occurence.

The study in question is silly because it only tracks people's perception of video games (does anyone really care about that?), not their actual effect, which is almost impossible to study anyway because of all of the external variables.

Jakub Majewski
profile image
Well, strictly speaking - yes, people's perceptions are worth tracking as well. It's very much worth knowing what people think - while at the same time it is of course pure folly to assume that such opinions are anything more than mere opinions.

In the case of this particular research, it's pretty tempting to also point out that hey, with age comes wisdom and experience - so maybe the anti-game stance of the older segment of the population is not all about unfamiliarity? :)

Michael Uzdavines
profile image
Well said - I suppose it can be important to know what people are thinking. But it's silly to use that to prove that something is true.

Interesting point about age - I'd agree with you if the study is done in 20 years when 60-70 year olds were more native to gaming.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Geoff Yates
profile image
Which again says to me "perception" will always be stronger than fact. To be honest majority of people have made up their minds without any scientific basis of fact. So surveys like this just tell me that is mostly still the case.

The problem really is high profile cases highlighted on TV the media sparks as the defense lawyers use every available tactic (games made me do it) hence no amount of data with integrity gets any attention (mainly because its not melodramatic). So the perception and myth gets re-inforced by the lemmings who just watch the news therefore it must be gospel.

What would be a better question do you know anyone personally (i.e. friend or family member) that plays video games and went on a violent rampage spree? Betcha the result would be skewed in the opposite direction.

Personally I know of no one that plays violent video games and than went postal. Whether there is domestic violence involved that I don't know but I think that would be more from upbringing than games.

John Owens
profile image
Isn't it ironic that THIS older generation where the generation that where told that rock 'n' roll music would lead to sexual thoughts and the corruption of society.

Oh wait a minute, what was my point? :-)

Jakub Majewski
profile image
Well, maybe that's why, after falling for all kinds of stupidity in their youth, this older generation is now less trusting towards new media? ;)

Daniel Backteman
profile image
All these discussions about games causing violence feels so misdirected. It's like blaming a spark, any spark, for starting a fire on a pyre which someone/something has been building.

Blame the factors leading up to the fire, not the combustion.

Eric Geer
profile image
It's always the people that don't play games suggest that they cause violent behavior.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Anton Temba
profile image
Articles like these cause violent behaviour.

Terry Matthes
profile image
Articles like this are a complete waste of time. So much energy is wasted on this debate every year. We just have to ignore it like Paris Hilton.

Troy Lonergan
profile image
Remember when everyone knew, for a fact, that the world was flat? Neither do I.

Richard Black
profile image
I can't see violence in video games having much to do with violence in real life aside from the fact that it's almost universally handled in a childish and immature manner. Perhaps if it was handled in a realistic manner people would be less desensitized and aware of their actions. I have never seen in any game or in any movie for that matter a realistic depiction of blood being spilt. If you were fully aware of how messy it was to actually take the life of a human being you might actually be slightly less likely to do so. Games and moves always tend to minimize the amount of blood and gore from wounds to a ridiculous degree or even childish degree so you might as well be watching an old GI Joe cartoon with everyone miraculously missing no matter how many people are shooting at each other. It's this 'clean' depiction of violence that too me truly makes it seem cool to people who binge on it and seek the glories of it's success without any conceptions of the realities. Limiting it to games is ridiculous to me as this is a universal depiction thoughout the media.

What games might reflect, if anything, is how much a douchebag you really are when you think no one can see or you have the conception of anonymity on the internet.


none
 
Comment: