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A View from David Appell

Video Games and Violence

The American Psychological Association just released a statement calling on the video game industry to cut back on violence in its games, saying that “decades of social science research reveals the strong influence of televised violence on the aggressive behavior…

  • August 18, 2005

The American Psychological Association just released a statement calling on the video game industry to cut back on violence in its games, saying that “decades of social science research reveals the strong influence of televised violence on the aggressive behavior of children and youth.” The resolution draws on an impressive amount of research, which is outlined in the statement.

…comprehensive analysis of violent interactive video game research suggests such exposure a.) increases aggressive behavior, b.) increases aggressive thoughts, c.) increases angry feelings, d.) decreases helpful behavior, and, e.) increases physiological arousal.
On the other hand, a new study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign comes to the opposite conclusion, but that study may not be as rigorous.
Dmitri Williams, lead author of the Urbana-Champaign study, said he believes it’s possible that games could spur children toward violent behavior, but that is not his chief argument: “I’m not saying some games don’t lead to aggression, but I am saying the data are not there yet,” Williams said. “Until we have more long-term studies, I don’t think we should make strong predictions about long-term effects, especially given this finding.”
They studied people who played the online role-playing game “Asheron’s Call 2” over an average total playing time of 56 hours in a month.
In the feedback section on a News.com article, a reader said the game didn’t fit the bill for the study: “Role-playing games aren’t associated with violence. They’re a much different type of game than Grand Theft Auto. I’m not saying they would find a link in that one, but it seems like they’re looking for a link between Dungeons and Dragons and armed robbery.”

Moreover, the study didn’t concentrate solely on younger teenagers, and the study’s lead author says “we cannot say that teenagers might not experience different effects.”

Guess which study the video game industry will be pointing to?

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