A new study provides the first experimental evidence that playing violent videogames can increase aggression in gamers.
Researchers invited 70 college aged students to participate… some were given violent games to play, while others given nonviolent ones. The people who played violent games showed an increase in hostile behavior.
This is Tyler Arrington. He’s a student at Georgia Military College in Augusta. During his free time, Arrington likes to play “World of Warcraft.” It’s a multiplayer game with plenty of fantasy violence.
“You know, you’re not confined to real life. You can open up so many doors to your imagination. Just express yourself through a fantasy world where’s no real life consequences," says Arrington.
After the shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, many people are asking questions about violence in video games. One of those people is Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University. He recently conducted a 3 day study on college aged adults who play violent video games. After a 20 minute gaming session, Bushman and other researchers had the students compete against each other.
“And the winner gets to blast the loser with loud noise, through head phones. And the noise is a mixture of noises that most people really hate, like finger nails on a chalkboard, dentist drills, sirens… all mixed together," says Bushman.
Bushman says that the students who played violent games were more hostile and aggressive towards the losers.
Other experimental studies have shown that a single session of playing a violent video game can cause short-term aggression. This new study is the first one to show long-term effects.
“On day one, the violent game players were more aggressive than the non-violent game players. Day two, the effect was even larger. And day three, larger still," says Bushman.
For Tyler Arrington, the study means nothing. He plays violent video games all the time, sometimes as much as 6 hours a day.
“You know, there’s millions of people that play video games that don’t even think about committing these violent crimes. So the handful that do, which is what everybody likes to focus on, I really believe that they are having internal issues aside from video games," says Arrington.
Tyler says that in some ways, the gaming world is a relaxing place to go to.
“You can come to the video game, express yourself, release your stress and anger on the video game, where you’re not taking it out on anybody in real life," says Arrington.
But Bushman’s study says otherwise…
“These games also decrease helping behavior and they decrease feelings of empathy and compassion for others. They make people numb to the pain and suffering of others," says Bushman.
But either way, Arrington says that gamers need to be able to tell the difference between what’s real, and what’s not.
“And the issue really starts at home, I mean, it’s up to the parents to be a parent in their kids life, and tell their kid, if they aren’t mature enough to play a rate M game, then they don’t need to play it," says Arrington.
In Connecticut, lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a task force charged with studying any links between violent video games and violent behavior in young people.
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