Villanova Research Video: Violent Games Only Make Angry People Aggressive

August 24, 2007 -

Unless you're already experiencing anger management issues, violent video games will not make you more aggressive.

At least, that's the conclusion of researchers at Villanova University, led by Prof. Patrick Markey. The study, which measured the responses of 167 students who played violent games like Doom 3 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein as well as non-violent fare such as Tetris Worlds and Project Gotham Racing. Said Prof. Markey:

So probably what's happening is these school shooters aren't doing the shootings because they played the violent video games. They're doing the school shootings because they are angry and maybe they've been provoked in life. Perhaps one of these provocations might be about video games but there's all the other daily provocations that happen. So it's not the video game's fault for these school shootings. It's the person's fault for these school shootings.

The news of the research goes back to mid-April, but this is the first we've seen of this video report.


 


Comments

This is interesting... and will be shot down by Jack Thompson as being "fake" in 5, 4, 3, 2, now.

Big "duh".

If you go out and kill people, you have more issues then liking violent games/movies/pictures/books.

As unnecessary as I think this report is – just another report stating the obvious - gammers/devs/publishers need all the support we can get.

"So it’s not the video game’s fault for these school shootings. It’s the person’s fault for these school shootings."

In other news, oranges and apples are fruits!

Unfortunately, any ignorant/biased/politically motivated/uninformed persons that we may be familiar with, will happily ignore this study and point to some biased study and state emphatically that video games will be the doom of society...

Oh and Good day to all here. First time poster, long time lurker.

@JB:

I actually disagree that it's unnecessary. Yes, many of us believe exactly what this report is saying and have for some time, but I think it's necessary to get as much good press out there as possible, simply because the amount of negative press is almost overwhelming to the majority of Americans. The more out there showing the truth of the story instead of what the mainstream media shows, the better.

Though his conclusions are on the right track, I'd like to see the specifics of the study. For example, where is the effin' control group?

I certainly don't want to rain on anybody's parade, but we criticize our opponents all the time for relying on flawed studies. Is it right for us to do just that?

"So it’s not the video game’s fault for these school shootings. It’s the person’s fault for these school shootings."

This is what we have been saying all along. If you take all of the school shootings that have been blamed on video games and compare them, one of the common denominators is aggression and a prediliction for violent imagery/media.

Some would say that violent video games are another common denominator but, how does that explain Seung-Hui Cho was not reported as playing any at all? The only thing he did on a computer at college apparently was read and write his disturbingly violent prose.

Angry violent people probably prefer to play violent games. But so do a lot of normal reasonable people. It is not the games that cause violence, rather the already violent people who play them.

The statistics say it all. With the massive sales of the GTA games, the widespread and continuing popularity of Counter-strike and Halo, if these games actually did make people violent and train them to kill then hardly a day would go by without some gamer going on a rampage. The fact a handful of the millions of people who bought the games were deranged and violent beforehand is no cause to condemn the games.

As an example, there are hundreds of millions of Christians in the world. The Westboro Baptist Church is a collection of roughly 150 disgusting bigots. Would you tar every Christian with the brush of being a bigot just because a miniscule fraction of their numbers acted that way? Or blame religion for the way they act? Of course not. In the same way, do not blame video games and insult gamers just because of a handful of violent and mentally unstable people have chosen to play them.

So people are responsible for their actions and not computer games? I'd never have thought it! On the bright side, does anyone else get a feeling that the balance is slowly tipping in our favour?

@Gisleburt

it actually has been for awhile (at least in the courts) the twinkie defense is out

*ahem* Oh Snap!

Please, Massacre Chaser, go away when you see this article. Don't bother trying to refute it. You may not be crazy, by a hyper-conservative, religious standpoint(no doubt, your shrink got their credentials from the same place as "Doctor" Kent Hovind), but that doesn't mean you're right. By any stretch.

Stop making an issue out of something you're too ignorant to understand.

Go sue some modest income homemaker over ruining your pants or something. It almost worked for a judge! Until he was thrown out and made a net-wide mockery.

You know, just saying, before he actually sets foot in this thread, as is bound to happen.

He doesn't actually talk to us. As far as he's concerned, he only responds to Dennis and ONLY Dennis.

@SilverStar

dont give him any ideas!!!!! the poor chung family has enough troubles (the chungs own the drycleaners where pearson lost his pants and his mind)

If nothing else, the report was right about one thing: video games are here to stay.

i love Villanova University.

@Terminator44

You're misunderstanding the study... Essentially what they were doing was having a large group play video games, and then studying how different types of games affected individuals with different psychological profiles.

Tetris and PGR are non-voilent games, so they were control in terms of reaction to the games. Then the people in the study would've been scored on some psychological profile as to their emotional state going into the study.

You then have several possible outcomes... If violent games cause agression then a majority of the 167 people should become more aggressive after playing Doom 3. This would be evidence of a causal link.

However, if only those with a tendancy towards agression and anger get more agressive, while those whose are more normal don't, then it's not a causal link. The video game didn't *cause* the agression, it was already there. The video game just brought it out...

http://www.joystiq.com/2007/08/24/m-rated-manhunt-2-coming-on-halloween/

Is this the major news for the industry Thompson was refering to yesterday? Well I certainly didn't see anything else major, so that must be it!

Incidently, how did the hearing go?

So they are releasing a wussed up version of Manhunt then? I was willing to "stand behind Manhunt" as Take-Two put it, but I will NOT stand behind this censored crap. And I invite others here to show this to Take-Two with their wallets by not buying this game.

My guess is Mr. Thompson will get to the part where the Markey says 'yes' and then stop the video to announce his 'victory.'

[...] Villanova Research Video: Violent Games Only Make Angry People Aggressive [...]

Finally a study that uses a "control" in it to monitor differences in reactions and what the hey, why not check out the subject first and maybe see if they have aggressive tendencies already... what a novel concept

;P

BTW: I run video-game shows over at Villanova as well as many other colleges in the region at least 2-3 times a year for their fundraisers and social events and we have all sorts of games from old school NES to Madden and Halo and I have witnessed myself the POSITIVE energizing effect video-games can have and to my eyes it is no more different than watching a sporting event and the reactions are just as strong with Mario or Track & Field with the Power Pad as they are with Madden or a multi player Halo or Goldeneye match. Go figure?

Oh and guess what the number one most popular game is with college students?

Duck Hunt!

an no lives were lost

I'd like to see the actual study, as I strongly disagree with him on the idea that games can't be used to alleviate aggression. When I still owned the game, there was nothing more satisfying after a particularly frustrating day than smashing things Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

I would argue that this particular facet of the study is flawed. Mostly because I'm not convinced any increased aggression he saw was actually because of the violent content and not just from a frustrating game.

Hmm I wonder what Jack Thompsn will have to say about this. Probably that it's merely a crap study, and that the only credible ones are those that "prove" the causal link between violent games and violence. Just geussing.

@cppcrusader

"I’d like to see the actual study, as I strongly disagree with him on the idea that games can’t be used to alleviate aggression. When I still owned the game, there was nothing more satisfying after a particularly frustrating day than smashing things Hulk: Ultimate Destruction."

He's debunking the idea of cathartic effect, not debunking the idea that you can feel better after gaming. Carthartic effect implies that doing the violent action in virtual allows you to "release your anger". On the other hand, having defeated many enemies on a particularly difficult level, you feel a sense of euphoria and accomplishment. THAT is what feels satisfying. The accomplishment.

This is why games like GTA are fun, but games where the whole purpose is just to gun down unarmed civilians are boring. GTA provides a challenge, because the gangsters/cops/etc can shoot back, or come to the rescue of any innocents you shoot. It's not the act of shooting that makes you feel good, it's the act of defeating a challenging enemy.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@ccpcrusader

I think what he meant by that was that it doesn't give off that sort of professional therapy-type level of stress relief.

Playing to let off steam for a some normal life-related stuff, like, i dunno, taking a break from studying for a big exam, or a long day at work, etc, that definitely is true and certainly works for me. But as a form of therapy to recover from something a bit more drastic, even life-changing, no, that wouldn't work. That's what i got from the way he worded it.

@cppcrusader

"I would argue that this particular facet of the study is flawed. Mostly because I’m not convinced any increased aggression he saw was actually because of the violent content and not just from a frustrating game."

This part I agree with. I would like to see how the "aggressive/non-aggressive" players fared in the "non-violent" games. How did those predisposed to aggression fare when the non-violent game was extremely challenging and frustrating?
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

~*~Choose A Jack Thompson Response V.1.0~*~

A. These people have been paid off by Blank Rome of course!

B. This is not a valid study because it disagrees with my bulletproof hypothesis.

C. Obviously, the people who conducted this study are wrong, because I've been on national TV __ (insert number) of times.

D. Hooah!

E. Random Press Release saying that Jack has contacted __ (insert organization or person) here, and that he wholeheartedly believes that they give a damn about what he says.

3 words:
No




Shit




Sherlock

I admit, this has been proven allready by no other than Angry Video Game Nerd....

@Majestic

You forgot F. All of the Above.

@ jabrwock

"This part I agree with. I would like to see how the "aggressive/non-aggressive” players fared in the “non-violent” games. How did those predisposed to aggression fare when the non-violent game was extremely challenging and frustrating?"

Since I have the article, to answer your question there were no significant differences between high, moderate and low anger groups on non-violent video games. However, the study did not address the issue of game frustration/challenge and would merit further study and funding.

@ jabrwock

"This part I agree with. I would like to see how the "aggressive/non-aggressive” players fared in the “non-violent” games. How did those predisposed to aggression fare when the non-violent game was extremely challenging and frustrating?"

Since I have the article, to answer your question there were no significant differences between high, moderate and low anger groups on non-violent video games. However, the study did not address the issue of game frustration/challenge and would merit further study and funding. For further detail check my blog.

@janarius

"Since I have the article, to answer your question there were no significant differences between high, moderate and low anger groups on non-violent video games. However, the study did not address the issue of game frustration/challenge and would merit further study and funding. For further detail check my blog."

Thx for the info.

It would be nice to factor that in. Do a study, but use 100% non-violent games, but rate their effect on aggression vs game difficulty/skill of the player. IE do players who have never played the game get all frustrated, vs players who have had the opportunity to play it for a while to get used to it.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Heck, even better, use the same game, but have "randomness" put into the controls. Delays and so forth, to see how the same game with clunky controls affects frustration.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@ Jabrwock

Actually, I think there's a game that actually makes itself impossible to play. I don't remember the details but i think I read it on joystiq or kotaku. Anyone knows or remember that game?

The Painstation?

Well one thing that I know about myself, If im already mad when i play a game, and i do bad in it, it makes me more angry, whether it be Halo, Guitar Hero, whatever. But if i'm mad and i do well in a game, it makes me feel better. So idk how that would fit into this case though....

this is an old joke (probably ill be yelled at for it but i gotta do it)

video games do not cause violence and ill kill anyone who disagrees with me!

(im a huge fan of absurdist humor)

@cullarn

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/1999/12/13

Vintage, but applicable, I think ^_^

@ Jabrwock

"He’s debunking the idea of cathartic effect, not debunking the idea that you can feel better after gaming. Carthartic effect implies that doing the violent action in virtual allows you to “release your anger”. On the other hand, having defeated many enemies on a particularly difficult level, you feel a sense of euphoria and accomplishment. THAT is what feels satisfying. The accomplishment."

Actually that's exactly what I'm talking about. In my example of Hulk, it was absolutely a cathartic effect, not defeating difficult enemies. If I was working on a frustrating piece of code, or if something else had me twisted in a knot I would fire that up and then it was just "CPPCRUSADER SMASH!" The satisfaction came from just smashing anything and everything that was in front of me. I would just play until I felt the anger or frustration had been vented, then get back to work.

That fact, coupled with the flaw I pointed out earlier just makes it hard for me to fully take this study seriously. I think with some more research and adjustments to the study like the questions and a better selection of games, this study could actually yield some useful info, but its not quite there yet.

I wish I could take this study because they would probably find that I'm an angry person but when I play violent games I become less aggressive. I laugh and smile. Its fun.

"janarius Says:
August 24th, 2007 at 12:15 pm
@ Jabrwock
Actually, I think there’s a game that actually makes itself impossible to play. I don’t remember the details but i think I read it on joystiq or kotaku. Anyone knows or remember that game?"


Umm, Superman for N64

lol!!!

theres quite a few video games like that

This method pretty much ripped the opposing side's argument to shreds.

But you ask yourselves one thing, what do they define as aggression? Is it frustration over repeatedly losing, or do the games really make them want to destroy something? Also if they are releasing their aggression chances are they are going to be more aggresive as they do so, and if they are relaxed and calm the rest of the day then that gives credence to the theory that games can be used to control aggression (and I bet the test didn't measure that either).

Ok where do I go to e-mail these people about my thoughts on violent video games, I went to the site but i can't find a link.

never mind, found it.

I've been wanting a study like this. Lots of studies have shown an increase in agression after playing violent games for soem number of people. It wasn't everyone though. Besides the point that agression isn't necessarily bad, I've been wanting a study on what made the peopel who were affected different from the rest. I'd like to see the details, though.

The way they define aggression in this and in other studies I've often found peculiar. Punching inanimate objects, sound blasts, etc. How do they make the jump from sound blasting someone to school shootings? It defies all logic. I mean I will sound blast the hell out of someone for fun, but I still get depressed when I accidentally run an animal over while driving.

Also supposedly I'm supposed to be desensitized to violence. Then why do I get squeamish when near gory real life injuries? Why when seeing a photograph of a real life head shot did I get physically ill and depressed for days?

Playing a video game might make a person more aggressive within the bounds of acceptable aggression in our society, ie hitting a punching bag, etc. But I tend to believe that sports would have a quite similar effect. Besides, everyone needs a little bit of aggression. Hell if Jack himself didn't have any aggression (though he may have a tad too much), then he wouldn't even have the gall to file these frivolous lawsuits.

I've been angry before, really angry, and used video games to calm down and get rid of some aggression. I've never attempted to kill or even harm anyone, so I don't understand how this works. No one person is the same.
 
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