An Australian government review has found no clear link between video game violence and real world aggression, a result sure to come to bear on the way the country considers mature-rated video games.
Games with content intended for adult audiences -- titles that, for example, would receive an M rating under the U.S.' ESRB system -- are generally banned from sale in Australia, due to the region's lack of an adequate category. But the dispute over whether to introduce one has been ongoing and contentious.
While some 98 percent of Australian consumers have been shown to support
the introduction of an R18+ rating for games with violent or mature-themed content, one primary point of contention has hinged on the belief that games with such depictions can be associated with real-world antisocial or violent behavior.
Now, GameSpot Australia reports that a federal review, requested by the country's censorship ministers to help their R18+ decision, looked into existing research and found no evidence to support that assertion
Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor released the results of the review: "Evidence about the effect of violent computer games on the aggression displayed by those who play them is inconclusive," he said.
"From time to time people claim that there is a strong link between violent crime or aggressive behaviour and the popularity of violent computer games," he continued. "The literature does not bear out that assertion."
According to the report, the review found that short-term effects associated with playing violent games are more prevalent than long-term ones, and while this is considered a risk factor, it's described as "small." And other factors, like existing predispositions, personality, peers, family and economic status were not explored.
The review findings will be used in government discussions in the weeks to come as ministers consider whether or not to introduce the rating.