Now, science isn't merely suggesting it; they're saying it: Violent video games increase aggression.
Ohio St. University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman gave a presentation in Provo last night, and his findings are stunningly clear. According to a report in the Deseret News , Bushman, who has been studying violent media for a quarter-century, says violent gaming does have a profound impact on people.
He reviewed 381 studies that featured over 130,000 participants, and his conclusion is as follows:
"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" and "all these effects are massive and statistically significant." If you're one of those people who say there aren't enough studies concerning the effects of violent video games, the professor simply says you "don't know what you're talking about." Reasons people may not want to believe his findings? Denial, the third-person effect, false reasoning, cognitive dissonance, and an aversion toward being told what to do.
Bushman specifically cited the common excuse about how gamers say they've played violent games all their lives, and they've never "murdered anyone." He says this is irrelevant because basically, "nobody ever murders." In general, he wants to protect children, which I'm all for:
"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."
I'm not going to disagree. I'm absolutely certain violent games – and violent media of all kinds – generate increased aggression in kids. I've been saying that for years; it's an absolute fact, as Bushman said. But what I want is video game studies that target adults , not kids. We've already got the ratings system; therefore, it's incumbent upon parents to understand that and act accordingly. If any of these products actually affected stable, rational adults, then you've got a headline.
Until then, I've only got one response to this: "Well, duh ."