Since the dawn of violent video games exposing children to blood and gore, people have been spouting the fact that these games contribute to violent behavior. A new study proves that this assumption isn't true.
The team of researchers was not able to find any evidence that playing video games can make players become more violent.
Researchers at the University of York ran experiments that involved over 3,000 volunteers. All the participants in the study were adults, so the results of this study do not determine the effects of video games on children. The main point of the experiment was to determine whether exposing gamers to such behaviors would prime them toward violent behavior — exposing people to concepts such as violence can make them more likely to use them.
One experiment had the participants playing games where they were a car staying away from a truck trying to hit them. In the other, they played as a mouse running away from a cat. After they played, they were shown images of vehicles and animals and then had to identify the image. In both cases, players of either game were not better at categorizing the antagonistic force in the game. Players were not able to categorize the pictures any better, and some were even slower at categorizing them.
Another experiment in the study sought to see whether the realism found in games could affect the participants' behavior. Players in this experiment played two shooting games. One of the games had models that used ragdoll physics — where character models move in a realistic way and react realistically with their environments — and the other in which the characters didn't behave in realistic ways. Both games did take place in realistic settings.
The participants were then asked to complete word puzzles where they would have to complete word fragments. The players who were exposed to ragdoll physics weren't any more primed than those who didn't. The study concluded that there was detectable priming between participants of either game.
"The findings suggest that there is no link between these kinds of realism in games and the kind of effects that video games are commonly thought to have on their players," said Dr. David Zendle from the study. "Further study is now needed into other aspects of realism to see if this has the same result. What happens when we consider the realism of by-standing characters in the game, for example, and the inclusion of extreme content, such as torture?"
Results of the study show that just playing video games doesn't make people more likely to start acting violently. One of the major takeaways was that the study wasn't done on children and that other aspects of realism in games still have to be studied.