Not surprisingly, these studies, particularly the first one I described, have inspired a lot of comments from the group of people being studied, gamers. While there are some who say the studies are a load of crap (usually saying something along the lines of “I’ve been gaming forever and I don’t go around killing kittens, so what does that study prove?”) others have contributed more thoughtful responses. For instance, one respondent to New Scientist’s article about the study observed that “If anything, video games can be beneficial, teaching people to understand their violent tendencies and control them, not necessarily to propagate them.”
Another respondent seemed to ignore the implications of the second half of the study and insisted that “The evidence reported does NOT suggest a direct link between video game violence and aggression. Rather, the evidence suggests a higher level of tolerance for VIEWING real life violence. Sort of a `nothing shocks me anymore’ response. In no way does it point toward actual violent action.”
Other respondents did pick up on the second part of the study, and pointed out that all it showed was that players with more experience of violent games tended to be more violent within the context of a game. How violent they would be in real life is another question. There are certainly players of violent video games who wouldn’t hurt a fly in real life.
So can we say that these two studies, even taken together, are meaningless? No, not by any means. True, the small samples in both studies may lead us to question the conclusions. But the findings are suggestive; indeed, more research in this area would be welcome. I can’t believe playing violent video games would be enough reason for somebody to kill a person, but I’d really like to know what spending a lot of time blowing up opponents on a video screen is doing to my brain.
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