The argument is seemingly a never ending pull between two extremes – those who believe that violent video games will turn children the world over into a generation of soulless, mindless killing machines and those who think games are nothing more than a silly, wayward hobby. Nevertheless, as long as there’ll be violence, in any form, be it fillm, movie, or literature, there will be someone to claim that it’s doing damage to youths.
Well, there’s now a bit more research to support those who want to stay up late playing another round of Call of Duty or Gears of War, slaughtering their way through another level. It comes in the form of a study titles, Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime, and it reveals a shocking secret most gamers have known since they first played their way across the hostile 2D levels of Contra.
“There is evidence that violent videogames cause aggression in a laboratory setting, there is no evidence that [games] cause violence or crime [in society]”.
Written by Scott Cunningham of Baylor University, Benjamin Engelstätter from the Centre for European Economic Research and Michael War of the University of Texas, their report states what would be a pretty obvious fact for anyone who has ever sat down and sunk their time into finishing a game or even making it from one end of a level to the boss battle at the other – gamers are too busy playing games to cause the sort of trouble in the real world that the media is so quickly to assert they are when a Columbine-style incident occurs.
Essentially, if the time it takes to commit a horrendous act of crime is taken out of the same time one would use to fight their way through another raid in World of Warcraft or level in Gears of War, it seems like a pretty obvious conclusion that societal factors, namely the crime rate in many parts of the world where video games have achieved a sizable penetration are actually lower as a result. Thus, it should come as little surprise that banning games would actually increase the criminal rate as opposed to lower any youthful hooliganism.
“We argue that since laboratory experiments have not examined the time use effects of videogames, which incapacitate violent activity by drawing individual gamers into extended gameplay, laboratory studies may be poor predictors of the net effects of violent videogames in society,” the reports states, adding that such studies “overstate the importance of videogame-induced aggression as a social cost”.
Sure, we get a bit aggressive after watching our character fast rope from a helicopter or detonate a nuke following a massive night of COD, but this doesn’t inherently mean we as humans are going to suddenly walk into the local supermarket and give everyone in the produce section a taste of our virtual video game skills. It just isn’t human nature in the most inherent form.