Do video games make you violent?

So I was shown a Youtube video of someone conducting amusing antics in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which made me laugh. It involved a few dead bodies being catapulted on a drawbridge. My fiance (who has an irrational dislike of video games), was disgusted and claimed that someone will now go and try to do the very same thing in real life.

Absurd, right? She seems to believe that the video game violence = real life violence claim is literal. How accurate is that? And how different would it be from, say violent (or less violent) movies?

I’ve played a few violent video games myself at times, but I’ve never had a violent streak in my body. Is there a link between playing violent games and becoming violent, or is it more that a violent person is more likely to play violent games?

Or is this even untrue, is there no link at all?

I do not have any scientific proof to add to this query; but I do feel as if people who play video games would say “no” without any doubt in their mind. and people who say “yes” are people who do not play video games. Some kind of sampling bias or something?

Nope, video games do not make me violent.

Here’s a recent study showing brain changes due to playing violent video games.

“These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior.”

It would be damn hard to even find a catapult and a drawbridge in real life these days. At least around here.

I grew up in the days of cowboys and indians on TV; Hopalong Cassidy and Gunsmoke, Wagon Train,… The Untouchables was already in reruns, and legend has it it was too violent to be shown in Europe. I specifically remember the scene of the guy being run down in a phone booth while snitching to the police. All the gangster movies and detective shows had non-stop gun violence. We won’t even mention Wile Coyote or Yosemite Sam perpetually holding exploding sticks of dynamite or being crushed by boulders - stuff “concerned parents” think is too violent for todays precious flowers.

Our generation in the 1960’s ended up being “peace, love, dove, man!” long hair and anti-war.

Or to quote Beefcake from Phantom of the Paradise, “I know drug real from real real.”

I think people know the difference between real and imagined or fantasy violence; and attitudes to real violence is shaped by their real environment. Once in a while, someone will try to fly or hang themselves because they saw it on TV… not very often. Yes, I recall one news story when I was a kid of some child tied to a tree and set on fire, Hollywood Indian style. Yes, things like Columbine happen. But these are disturbed individuals, and disturbed individuals have been doing this sort of stuff since we started keeping records. But, do you think today’s society with its concern for violence and non-PG warning is less violent than America 40 years ago? Or more? Or does it depend very much on location, and therefore the *real *violence those people grow up with?

If video games make people violent, then why has violent crime dropped precipitously in the last decade? Same thing with pornography causing sex crimes. We have more porn and video games than at any time in human history, and yet violent crime and sex crime is way down. What’s the explanation?

I don’t think video games make people violent, I think that video games simply get too much attention and blame. So much in fact that people actually fall for it. Anyone with any sort of common sense knows that with how many copies of doom or turok or grand theft auto that have been sold if in fact the games were responsible the world would be seriously messed up. For sure not everyone who has played doom has gone on a shooting spree, or everyone who’s played gta has robbed a store. The most I can hold a video game responsible for any violent action is in an extremely rare case where someone (who is already violent with some kind of internal anger already on edge) happens to play and gets too lost in the world they feel like they would like to be in, and externalizes it and then goes into action. I would certainly say that alcohol was too blame for a drunk man killing his wife out of rage that may have been controllable under normal circumstances (rational and not completely drunk). Even then I wouldn’t blame alcohol “completely”. I would think the actions that presented themselves in that situation were already present or developed sometimes after or during the alcohol was consumed. I think the same thing with games. When a person who plays too much games goes on a shooting spree or something they may have even gotten the idea from a game to go shooting people but it would be no different than watching predator or a movie. I think that when the right game does meet the right person and gives them the idea to do something violent it’s because the person themselves are already a bit cooky and happen to copy the game out of anger or hatred because face it games are a bit more involved than movies are. I think that games tend to be a excellent outlet for people with anger issues, that is emotional problems that lie sometimes even hardly noticed under normal circumstances that probably would have erupted sooner or later even without the video games but they happen to be like that.

Video games might provide an outlet for releasing aggressive tendencies (aka an escape valve).

The trouble with any social science experiments or surveys, is that they can like most statistics be twisted to say what the researcher wants them to say, if they have an axe to grind.

Are children who play violent video games more aggressive because of that, or because parents who actually teach their children to control themselves also limit the amount of such asocial activities they are allowed to indulge in? Is it an effect, a cause, or an acidental correlation or a symptom of poor parenting or other factors?

Some people, if given the choice, would actually take a world without the handful or so of sensationally gruesome video game style copy cat murders over a world with thousands fewer plain-old unremarkable choking and stabbing murders.

Playing video games is better than hanging around in the street bored and causing trouble.

The handful or so? Have there been ANY “sensationally gruesome video game style copy cat murders”?

Do video games make you violent?

I think if one of my kids had not done one more important thing because he was too busy playing video games, I would have been driven to violence. So yes.

I hate to break this to you, but I think your fiance may be a moron.

Same here, and if anyone ever suggests it again I’ll kick their ass.


Yeah… they showed differential activation. It does not tell us what these differences mean. Does it mean they stopped caring about violence? Or can it simply mean that they react to a wide array of stimuli (not shown) differently? Then they used people who don’t play video games? Might neural activity change drastically simply because they are seeing tons of new stimuli in a short period of time. I can’t be arsed to read the paper, but it’s either shoddy reporting or shoddy experimental procedures.

It’s usually like: dirtbag kills some people. His Nancy Grace-like lawyer suggests that he says he learned it from Grand Theft Auto. Case becomes suspicious when defendant doesn’t know a single thing about GTA.
And a summary of what I know about this subject: does it cause violence. Yes, no, or maybe. It’s pretty well established that there are physiological changes soon after playing a game, perhaps especially violent ones. But whether that translates to actual violent actions is unknown and unproven, but it is likely that any causal effect is minuscule compared to genetics and upbringing. Or maybe, in people with these risk factors, VVGs can lead to violence, but for the 99%+ of us, they have little effect.

Why is it shoddy reporting or shoddy experimental procedures? They did a study and reported what they found (changes in the brain) and then a website summarized that.

What’s shoddy about that? Nobody said they had “the answer” - just some interesting data that certainly implies it’s worth more study.

Reading again, probably the reporting. It says, “But there has been little scientific evidence demonstrating that the games have a prolonged negative neurological effect.” And the study found lowered fMRI activity in some areas. The implication: “Oh noes! It is hurting our children’s brains!” Fact is, you can find a lowering of fMRI signal and it doesn’t mean that some cognitive function or behavior is becoming reduced. It could mean that blood flow is reduced because activity is increasing elsewhere, or just that the brain is getting “bored,” which you’ll find if the same stimulus is shown too much. I am thinking that Wang et al. didn’t report it as a “negative neurological effect.”

Methodologically, again, based on this article, they should (follow up study?) measure people who do play video games, as the change in activity could be a result of 1) video games in general 2) the violence specifically 3) pretty lights flashing in their faces 4) etc. And we have no way of seeing which case it true.