A 10-year study published by Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking has found no results that show a significant link between children that play violent video games, and those that experience increased aggression in adolescence. Following a focus group of 500 participants with an average age of 14, researchers measured the impact games like Grand Theft Auto had on participants over time. Those that played the violent games over many hours as teens did not see a notable increase in aggression as adolescents when compared with those that played over fewer hours. Instead, the researchers claim that some of the children may have used the games as a way of dealing with feelings of anxiety.
Participants in the study were given questionnaires to fill-out in order to analyze levels of aggression. According to the study, three groups emerged: Group 1 played aggressive games the most as kids and tapered off as they got older; Group 2 played a moderate amount to start and increased as they got older; finally, Group 3 started with very little time, with play time increasing as they got older. The results showed no difference between Groups 1 and 3, while Group 2 seemed to display the highest-level of aggression.
Studies about the impact of violent video games on players have been conducted countless times over the years, and the results have always been the same. This particular study is notable, however, given the amount of time that it was conducted over. It's difficult to measure the long-term impact in a traditional study, but this one provides a more thorough understanding. It's entirely possible that some participants might have been less than honest in some of their replies, and that should be taken into consideration. That said, the overall length of the study and the number of participants makes it likely that these results are as accurate as they can possibly be.
Video games have long been treated as a scapegoat for various societal ills, often in place of more plausible explanations. It's unlikely that this study will convince many of those that already have preconceived notions about the industry and about games targeted towards older players, but it might not have to; after all, the overall perception of video games has drastically improved over the last few years, and it seems that will likely continue, in the coming years.
What do you think of the study? Do you think violent video games can have an impact on aggression? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!