Professor: Violent Games Absolutely Do Increase Aggressive Behavior

After poring over tons of data, one professor thinks the correlation is shockingly clear.

The subject of violent video games continues to rage, but one professor doesn't see it as a controversy. No, he thinks the answer is painfully obvious.

Ohio State University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman gave a presentation concerning the effects of violent games (as reported by the Deseret News), and his conclusions are getting a lot of attention today. For the record, Bushman has been studying violent media for a quarter-century, and his recent findings are based on 381 studies and over 130,000 participants.

The bottom line is this:

"Playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, emotional arousal, and aggression."

"Playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, emotional arousal, and aggression."

Bushman added that violent games can make players "numb to the pain and suffering of others." Personally, I see this effect in just about everyone these days, as entertainment has continued to become more and more violent (not just video games). As for the effects, the professor claims they're "massive and statistically significant."

Now, you might not want to accept these results. Bushman understands this but would chalk up your resistance to one of the following: denial, the third-person effect, false reasoning, cognitive dissonance, or a general aversion toward being told what to do.

As for the common excuse, "I've played violent games my whole life and I've never murdered anyone," that's obviously irrelevant. Bushman reminds us that most have never "murdered anyone;" this doesn't change the possible increased aggression.

He really wants to protect our kids and with that, I have no problem.

"We don't let our kids smokes cigarettes, drink beer, or play with guns. Let's protect our children. Let's make sure they don't consume age-inappropriate media."

What I'm interested in, however, are the studies that involved adults. Bushman says there are tons of studies out there and I don't doubt it. But they all seem to target children and teens, as if those are the only individuals playing video games today. I want to see a study that specifically centers on adults, and then maybe we'll find something interesting.  Most intelligent people will accept that violent games - and all violent media - can and do have a profound impact on developing individuals. That's not in debate.

However, and I'll say this one last time: Violent games aren't made for kids. Hence, all this research wouldn't be necessary if parents actually acted like parents. Right?

Featured Columnist

A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.

Published Feb. 14th 2014
  • Josh (Sev9)
    To be honest, these so called "studies" really strike a nerve with me. They hold absolutely NO water what so ever. They're a waste of time and resources.There is just way too many variables that can skew the results. Mostly starting with the person conducting the study, He can try to claim hes neutral in the debate, but everyone has an opinion one way or another. If hes a fan of violent video games, some of the research that could tip the scales against the games may be "over looked" or phrased in a manner that doesn't seem like a big deal. If he's against violent video games he'll glorify the negative results (which is how I feel from what I've read.)etc etc. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say with that bit. I'm trying not to make this long, but I want to share my opinion but its kinda hard because I don't want to waste my time (is anyone actually going to read this and reply? I don't know. But I do hope so.) or your time. There's just so much I want to through out there (here, really on this subject as they are becoming more frequent.)

    Everyone knows who Mr. Roger's is, right? Would you believe as nice as Mr. Rogers was, there were actually people who loathed him, hated him greatly. As a kid, I was raised in, what people called a crappy neighborhood, they call it "the projects and/or the ghetto". It was really bad, I got in a fight at a very young age(4) there were 3 or 4 kids my age, and some twice their age, etc. They all jumped me in my front yard, I lost my hearing in my left ear. Completely deaf in that ear. But that's really not here nor there. Those kids HATED Mr. Rogers with a passion. They broke their parents T.V's over his show.Even if his show WASN'T on, just a picture of him was on the screen, they'd break something. (the school I went to, didn't care. I got beat up in front of the principal and he didn't do anything about it at all.)

    Basically with that paragraph, I just wanted to explain that anything and everything can make people violent. It doesn't matter what it is.There will be people that get violent over SOMETHING.

    Thirdly, to me these studies are an absolute waste of money, time and other resources. (im probably sounding like a parrot by now.) Can a solution be figured out to solve this whole mess once and for all? Absolutely not. The thing I would like to point out however, is that history is repeating itself. It really is, think about it, how long ago was it that music went through the same ridicule (not the right word maybe?) studies, accusations etc etc. And before/after that, television, movies, etc etc. Pornography followed somewhat of a degree of accusations of different reasons for different outcomes.

    Fourth and finally, you've actually read this far? you haven't blocked, reported, deleted me and this post yet? Do I see a solution to all of this? Absolutely not. I do have suggestions however that might be worth trying. It seems to of worked for other mediums out there.. You know when you go to a video rental, or retail store that sells movies and games. They specialize in movies and such. And when you get to the pornography stuff, they have this plastic cover that covers the front of the dvd so that you can't really see nudity just by glancing around the store. Don't just have covers that are just basically dividers and what not. Have them covering the entire game case. I mean most retail stores have them in cases already to prevent thief so why not utilize Whats already there and when a parent is out shopping for a game for their kid (Either with or without their kid) that same case has the rating of the game in huge big vibrant lettering.

    It's funny isn't it? People want the government to be responsible for some stuff, but if the government goes the same distance in another area, all hell breaks loose about the government trying to control everyone's lives.

    anyway, as serious as this post seems, there is no anger, its entirely just a conversation/open debate. I apologize for all the confusion I caused if you actually read this all. I hope you were able to piece some of it together. anywho, if you'd like to debate some more, or want me to expand on something, let me know. I hate I had to rush to get this out. I feel like I butchered everything I wanted to say and probably made myself look like an ass. Thank you for your time. I appreciate it!
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Just from a psychological viewpoint, there's a very simple reason why those kids hated Mr. Rogers. The subject matter obviously had nothing to do with their violent outburst.
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    The box says 'M' on it for a reason. However, the definition of what an 'M' rated game often seems to be all over the map. The rating system for games is pretty much like the movies. It's used by the industry to exploit their customer base. Kids push to play M games because of their rating, just like kids wanting to see R-rated movies used to be.

    Every big blockbuster that came out used to be leveled at the PG-13 crowd because it meant they could ramp up the PG rated violence etc. while still getting young kids in the seats.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    They should do a study on parents who let their kids play games that are rated higher than their age. Obviously violent video games have an effect, just like ANYTHING. It's up to people being responsible. I don't want to live in a world where anything remotely bad for anyone gets taken away from everyone. Just because .00000001% of people who play violent video games hurt someone doesn't mean I can't play them.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    I think violent games only cause aggressive behaviour during the game. You act aggressively when you stub your toe right? I know for some kids it does cause them to act more violently, but who's fault is this? I think it's both the parents, retailers, and whoever makes the box art, put in massive letters, THIS GAME INVOLVES GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND SHOOTING, don't hide it away. Then in also massive, 16+ or what ever. Yes this will be put over a nice box art, but until parents know EXACTLY what their kids are playing, this needs to happen. Retailers need to stop saying things like "all their friends will be playing it, and they will feel left out" or "it's not real, so does it matter?" or even the crazy "it doesn't matter what happens in the game, it won't affect your child" or the final "buy it because it's £2 off"
    That's my rant really.
  • Game Oracle
    Certainly, we can all agree that we have ratings on games for a reason.

    We as gamers, developers, and publishers can't be responsible for policing children.

    Absolutely, it's parents responsibilities to know what their children are doing at all times, and kids playing violent interactive entertainment is no different.

    Parents are the individuals who should be held responsible if a child's watching and playing violent video games becomes a problem.
  • Cosmic Engine
    Featured Contributor
    I agree with you here, Violent games are not for kids. It is in no way acceptable for a child or teenager to be playing an over 18 video game, it comes down to parental responsibility here. I also find the fact that 'video games' can make you more aggressive to be a null point, any form of media that invokes an emotional response can have that affect, be it movies, TV or music.

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