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New study compares prolonged exposure to violent games to cigarette habit

Monday, 17th December 2012 08:20 GMT By Dave Cook

Research conducted at the Université Pierre-Mendès-France, carried out by analysts at Ohio State University and the University of Hohenheim, has found that prolonged exposure to videogames increases aggression in players and coerces them to view the world in a more violent light. Get the research findings below.

On each of the three test days, the study saw 70 undergraduate participants exposed to either violent games – including Call of Duty 4 and Condemned 2 – or passive titles – including DiRT 2 and Pure – for 20 minutes at a time.

After playing, participants were asked to then read the start of a story, and then at the end come up with 20 possible follow-on actions the protagonist could take, with the players of violent games opting for more aggressive solutions when compared to the passive players.

Then, participants were told that there was another participant in another room, and that they had to compete with them by playing a 25-trial videogame, with the aim of being the first person to respond to visual cues on screen.

The winner would then have the power of sending the other person a ‘noise blast’ through their headphones – such as the sound of nails down a chalkboard or a dentist drill. Players of violent games leaned towards sending their opponent a louder, more prolonged sound, while passive players were kinder to their fellow participant.

It should be noted however that there actually was no other participant, just in case someone got their ear drums blown out.

By the end of the study the research found, “people who played a violent video game for three consecutive days showed increases in aggressive behaviour and hostile expectations each day they played. Meanwhile, those who played non-violent games showed no meaningful changes in aggression or hostile expectations over that period.

Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University was co-author of the study, who said after the test, “It’s important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games.

“Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won’t cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression.”

What do you make of the study? Is it enough to form opinion on the matter, or does more need to be done in this field?

Thanks GayGamer.

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26 Comments

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  1. The Auracle

    Interesting findings but once again the studies only show what can happen if a young gamer’s hobby is left unchecked (again: that’s where the parent stamps their authority by limiting their child’s gaming time and/or what they are allowed to play) or if they don’t diversify their gaming palette. I have many different types of games. For every hour I’ve spent running the maps on Battlefield 3, I’ve spent either taking a football team to glory in FIFA or Pro Evo, or spending quality time as my personalised Sackboy in little.big.planet 2.

    The analogy is a fair one, I think. However, I’d be more concerned with my child smoking every day than gaming every day.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. CyberMarco

    I wonder who funds these stupid researches! Been playing video games from the age of 5 with a NES, and if I recall correctly my first violent game was on the PSone. The behavior of the subjects, IMHO depends also from their life experiences etc.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DrDamn

    The smoking analogy (and the title of the story) is an interesting one. Is this just based on the 3 days mentioned at the end? That would seem wholly inadequate to make that sort of comparison.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 That was my thought yeah.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. stevenhiggster

    Tbh I can quite believe the results. But they would most likely find the same results using violent books or movies, but hey, nice of them to single out video games as usual.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dragon246

    I wonder if there has been any research on effects of watching violent movies, tv shows, reading such books etc.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. deathm00n

    @5 Agree, put someone in a room for 3 days watching the whole SAW series against people 3 days watching Sex and the City.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DrDamn

    @7
    Wouldn’t the second person kill themselves? Does this count as becoming more violent?

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Mangoose

    Gamers are so defensive when it comes to research. Isn’t it at least a tiny bit interesting that the subjects reacted the way they did? Most gamers don’t seem to have a problem with research that reveal positive effects from games.

    Video games is a strong medium exactly because it engages the player in a more intense way, isn’t that why we like them in the first place?

    It’s not like anyone’s taking your gamepad away from you, or even putting any blame on your favorite hobby. They’re just trying to find out more about how we react to gaming. If you play a lot of games, you should welcome this kind of research, not treat it like some conspiracy against All That Is Fun.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Cobra951

    My conclusion from what I read here is different. According to the text available to me, all the research indicates is an increase in *virtual* aggression, which makes perfect sense. I see no evidence that any of these people are more likely to pick up a gun or a knife, and *physically* attack anyone. The fictional (but believed by the subjects) noise blast is no substitute for testing actual, direct aggression. It offers too tenuous a connection.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. deathm00n

    @8 LOL Gold!

    @9 The problem is for example in my country: the most watched Television program (and the most conspiracy one) always show these tests and in the end says that videogames are bad. We even had a law that was going to be voted about not even selling games that were violent. So yes, they are trying to take my gamepad from me.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Mangoose

    11@ The scientists aren’t, that’s not how science works. However, if your politicians are, from what I gathered from your post, trying to “take your gamepad away”, that battle should be fought on the political platform.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. DrDamn

    This is the full research article btw …

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103112002259

    It’s interesting, but it needs a bigger sample size and certainly a much longer period of study to claim to be “long term”. It would also be helpful to compare to other activities too.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. OrbitMonkey

    After playing violent games, the subject is more likely to press a button that sends a horrible noise to a competitor…?

    So like yelling “You sucked fags!” after a team death match win? Wow science you’ve proven something there alright!

    That some people don’t know how to win gracefully. But please feel free to spin it into videogames make you evil.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. freedoms_stain

    ” A single cigarette won’t
    cause lung cancer,”

    Actually it could, it’s just incredibly statically unlikely.

    Overall their methodology is flawed. Give the subjects a hammer and a puppy after playing and see what happens. If the violent players consistently smash the puppy in with the hammer after long term exposure to violent games I’ll accept their conclusion.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Da Man

    Excellent analogy, computer entertainment and it’s addicts are practically identical to people using drugs for recreational purposes.

    Esp single player videogames.

    More specifically, hardcore gamers are a lot like people who enjoy drugs to get pleasure and entertainment, and don’t want to stop.

    There’re plenty of similarities, from the unhealthy, unwitty stubbornness towards anything perceived as anti-computer toyish, through the anti-social behaviour and pointless mindfakery (which is so natural to most of the video game storylines).

    You have to have zero perspective to deem them as ‘hobby’ (let alone a medium of some sort). Collecting CoD games or promotional materials would be a hobby, playing Asteroids competitively would be a hobby.. Entertaining yourself with various pre-made computer sequences is largely akin to drinking, watching random TV shows or biting fingernails.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    The problem with this headline is that it’s painting a far more negative and sensationalist picture of the research than the research itself actually is.

    Although frankly, you don’t really need a study to tell you that more violently inclined people enjoy violent games. People who indulge in their violent behaviour are obviously going to get wrapped up in it. At least they’re not out shooting up elementary schools.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. DSB

    There’s no room for aggression in Dirt 2 or Pure? News to me :P

    It would make more sense to me if they had been playing more soothing games. I don’t think there’s a big difference between an adrenaline fueled racer and an adrenaline fueled shooter in terms of what you put into it.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. OlderGamer

    How many hardcore and dedicated omp fps players outthere, that used to play something else, but now going back to those something else games is unthinkable? Evidence?

    How about the mmorpg players playing as many hours as they can, everyday, all of the time…all while unhappy with the game? To a point where if/they do break free they have to uninstall the game client from their pcs? While six months, a year, or next xpac, they come right back to repeat the same cycle? Evidence?

    Games are very deeply rooted in our brains. A good game/franchise often uses te works and studies of psychology to make their games more immersive and appealing. Go watch some kids play a few games. Watch their behavior. The more violent the game, the more most of those kids will react to the game. The more they want to play and te more they want to return. It is rather interesting to say te lest.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. DrDamn

    @OG
    The analogy they used with smoking wasn’t related to addiction at all, more the cumulative impact of the activity.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. OlderGamer

    All the same subject matter and discusion really tho Doc. Games and their impact on peoples lives.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. theevilaires

    I’m not apart of that study statistics then. been gaming since SNES days not once have I had the urge to smoke a cancer stick. Besides gamers are winners everyone knows smokers are losers ;)

    #22 2 years ago
  23. monkees19

    How ridiculous. I’ve never touched a cigarette and I’ve been playing games for over 20 years.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Cobra951

    @16:

    How did I miss your gem of a post? I’m curious. Why do you even visit this site if that’s how you feel about its subject matter?

    Yes, some obsessive behavior can develop around too much gaming. No question. But comparing it to directly ravaging your body with chemical poisons is more than a bit extreme.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Da Man

    #24, this site’s subject matter is a tad bit broader than hardcore gamers and pathological gaming disorders. Besides I do play videogames, believe it or not in the days of Contra and Darkwing Duck today’s patients were unheard of.

    As for the comparisons, why yes for quite some time people’ve been comparing drug addiction and gambling or even internet addiction, rightfully so.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Cobra951

    @25:

    The word “addiction” gets thrown around too loosely. It provides a crutch for people who just need to work on their self-discipline (internet addiction, really?). I’ll stick to my word (“obsession”) when it comes to gaming. There is no real dependency (which I think is a key component of addiction). I’ve been gaming for decades, and I don’t even miss it when I get involved longterm with other activities.

    #26 2 years ago