Over the years, many groups have tried to tie violent video games to an increased level of aggression in real life. Although there have been a few examples of studies that have claimed video games cause violence in this regard, most have been easily debunked with the majority of studies finding that there is no link between video games and long-term aggression. Now, another study has come to the same conclusion.
The study in question comes courtesy of a group of German researchers, who conducted a study on fifteen male violent video game users, all of which had played first-person shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield for at least four years with an average of two hours played per day. Utilizing an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study on these players then yielded some rather interesting results.
Ruling out short-term effects of video game use, all subjects were abstinent from game use for at least three hours before the study took place. Assessing neural responses to “stimuli designed to elicit empathic reactions,” the data did not provide “evidence for a neural desensitization in the processing emotionally salient stimuli,” with instead there being little difference between those who played violent video games and those that did not. “Thus, the lack of group differences in our fMRI data does not suggest that excessive violent video game use leads to long term emotional desensitization and a blunting of neural responses related to empathy,” explained the study.
One result that the study did discover is that “some differences emerged for measures assessing novelty seeking and antisocial personality.” However, those conducting the study have stated that this may suggest that playing violent video games may act as a symptom for antisocial personality, rather than the cause. “VVG users of our study also showed high values on the antisocial scale of the clinical personality inventory,” stated the study. “This again may be the basis for specific problematic behavior often suggested for this population.”
All in all, then, the study concluded that “the impact of violent media on emotional processing may be rather acute and short-lived,” rather than a cause for long-term aggression. This certainly backs up the findings of many other studies, which have covered everything from links between video games and violent behavior through to how video games affect the behavior of children, with the latter study covering a rather comprehensive sample of 11,000 children.
Of course, it’s unlikely that this study will be enough to put this discussion to bed altogether, as the subject of violent video games has been a topic of controversy for an extremely long time. However, each study that proves that there is no link between violence and gaming will hopefully make violent video games seem less and less dangerous to those concerned.