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Violent Game Study Results Are A Huge Win For The Industry

Politicians and lawmakers called for more research into violent video games after the Sandy Hook school tragedy.

Obviously, they wanted to point the finger (and many did without any evidence whatsoever). But with these new results, they might have to rethink the extremely insulting witch hunt.

According to a new study conducted at the University of Queensland, it seems there is no exhibited link between violent video games and anti-social behavior.

The study consisted of three separate experiments and included a total of 160 undergraduate students (55% were male) aged between 17 and 43. They were tasked with playing a randomly selected anti-social, violent, non-violent or pro-social game; Grand Theft Auto IV was the anti-social one, Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombie Mode was the violent one, the non-violent title was Portal 2, and the pro-social game was World of Zoo. Participants played the assigned game for 20 minutes. A later phase saw the experiment reduced to only two games, but the results were identical.

Interestingly, participants thought that answering a series of questions was the key. These questions asked after their interest, frustration and arousal after playing. But in fact, the results were based on which participants simply offered to pick up the examiner's pens, which "accidentally" fell to the floor during questioning. This mirrored a study conducted in 2010 that was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

And the conclusion:

"Three experiments failed to find a detrimental effect of violent video games on pro-social behaviour, despite using contemporary and classic games, delayed and immediate test-phases, and short and long exposures."

However, the report does admit that this study doesn't represent "definitive evidence" that violent games have absolutely no detrimental effect on pro-social behavior. Still, concerns as to how much violent games affect people "may be mismatched or disproportionate." Some may ask why they weren't using kids in this study. After all, politicians are always whining about the effect violent games have on children. Well, here's the answer, once again-

Violent games aren't for kids. If they've got 'em, blame the damn parents. Can we be done now?

Tags: violent video games, violent games, violent game study

7/4/2013 9:56:14 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (28 posts)

Knightzane
Thursday, July 04, 2013 @ 10:35:57 PM
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Lol. Sad they had to waste money on this. It should have been obvious.

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Cho_Quin
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 4:45:21 PM

There is nothing obvious for stupidity, but I get your point hehe

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Temjin001
Thursday, July 04, 2013 @ 10:42:35 PM
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that'll learn 'em

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Killa Tequilla
Thursday, July 04, 2013 @ 11:04:50 PM
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I like that last four or so lines. It was an epic way to end an article.

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Dukemz_UK
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 2:31:49 AM

Totally agree. Age restrictions are there for a reason. But video games can baby sit a ten year old for hours and hours. = Bad parenting

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shadowscorpio
Thursday, July 04, 2013 @ 11:15:16 PM
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...because violence only just recently appeared in video games .

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, July 04, 2013 @ 11:50:06 PM
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I only know me. And despite my love of reckless violence in games and other media I routinely go out of my way at every opportunity to help anyone who could use it in every day life. Maybe it was all that saving the world?

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Underdog15
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 10:42:03 AM

World always going to great lengths to help seniors.

I'm sorry ma'am, but your walker is in another castle.

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PC_Max
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 12:39:47 AM
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Here we go again.

Ummm.... its not an answer... unless it is because it fits ones view of the issue. If the result was games do have an affect on people... would gamers say "Okay I guess I was wrong". Doubt it. In fact they would say probably what politicians would say.. "I don't care. I know I am right". This "experiment" by all accounts was pointless and not very scientific. Unless they were looking for very very short term affects. And even then, proves nothing towards the overall issue.

20 minutes playing, I can only suppose, each game? And they were trying to prove or disprove adverse affects of games on people?

Hate to tell you Queensland and others, when they test drugs... it takes years for them to find out what the adverse sidekicks are for people. Hell, sun bathing takes a number of years to show what its harm does. Sometimes, only after irreparable damage. Geez!

I hope public money was not used for that experiment. What a waste of research money on something where the results dubious at best. People are just grasping straws. All experiments like this whether supporting or disproving result in useless data.

BUT hey! If it fits your opinion... more power to you. But someone out there in the scientific community PLEASE do long term research on this AND other pop-culture mediums that some would say affect people. And not just one piece of the puzzle.

Keep playing.. whatever your opinion.




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Simcoe
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 9:05:52 AM

Let me just point out that the article in question was by a student. Everyone has to start somewhere, and learn how to do a job, including scientists. It's very common that people will start off asking small questions to use in a pre-study and see if the methods can be scaled up to a much larger, in-depth research. You just can setup a huge, long-term experiment/investigation without methods that haven't already been testing on a much smaller scale. It's also common, especially for students, to recreating previous experiments; being able to reproduce findings by using the methods of others is very important. Just because a study is not big enough or states something that is perceived to be "obvious" doesn't make it "useless". Of course this one article isn't the be all and end all of the discussion, but it will be it's own little piece in a much larger puzzle.

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PC_Max
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 10:23:37 AM

I see your point, but it does not work that way. In the scientific community, yes, they do small testing on a small demographic, but they know its immature to present early results which are inconclusive. In other words its useless and pointless to show the results where more long term testing is most definitely required. This article here shows how its being used to support one side of an issue.

Small research usually is to get more funding for larger and longer term projects. Again though you do not show results or data. It taints the professionalism of the research and its results because again groups use the info to support their own cases. A scientist in most cases is or should be unbiased in the research to find the truth, but not based on dubious data.

And you know, this whole issue is just getting old, like I am. :). Gaming is a small part of pop culture and does influence. If ANYONE doubts that... then they need to understand learned behaviour in humans, starting back at birth of a child. lol. And know one I am sure wants to do that, except a scientist/social and cultural anthropologist.

Keep Playing !

PS - the argument by some that video games have not affected them really has no standing because really, when does an alcoholic realize they have a drinking problem? Not a great analogy and an extreme one, but I have experienced this in a family member.

Lets let the scientist do their thing. And yes, politicians and entertainment industry should talk, amicably.

Last edited by PC_Max on 7/5/2013 10:30:17 AM

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Underdog15
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 10:53:32 AM

...
A lot to address, not sure I know where to start. :p

Drugs are entirely different, first of all, as they are required to test new medications for at least 25 years before releasing to market. So even when they don't need to, they have to. It's law. For drugs they do need to, when you are dealing with intentional and synthetic chemical changes to the body, long term effects need to be measured in many cases. Afterwards, there's an extensive legal process. There's even more to it than I just said, too. So it's not fair to compare to drugs. It's a completely different thing altogether. The drugs that will come out this year were discovered or synthesized a quarter of a century ago. There are exceptions in rare cases, such as terminal cancer patients participating in studies as a last resort, but overall, this is the case.

Second, I agree that this study isn't definitive on a huge issue, but they aren't trying to be. It's merely a piece to a much larger puzzle.

Third, saying it isn't scientific is false. It was published by the university, which means that the thesis for the research by the student (whether masters or PhD doesn't matter. They are still students of post secondary programs. They are still degree holders and therefore scholars. Post secondary degrees are bestowed on people who have contributed to the world of academics... not just learned about it.) it needs to be defended before it would ever be published by the university. If it didn't follow the scientific method, it wouldn't have been approved by a faculty of doctorates.

Fourth, the study is effective in measuring typical adult's immediate reaction to participation in violent video games. The results are that immediate immersion does not have statistically significant negative outcomes. It doesn't measure long term exposure, and it doesn't say what could happen over time. But it does suggest that immediate exposure in short intervals does not have any affect on healthy adults. That's all.

Finally, it is a success for the industry in that the first step in learning more about the effects of games does not begin to point at a possible negative trend that might get worse over time. Obviously, it isn't enough on it's own. But no study should try to answer such a large question. That type of question is answered over potentially 100's of studies.

I just think we should be both fair and realistic, and while I understand some of your points, I think some of your claims are to be rejected.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 7/5/2013 10:55:57 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 11:16:23 AM

PC_Max: Long-term results won't be available until the LONG TERM is over. Accurate or not, people like those who have called to tax violent video games want results NOW, even if they're only preliminary.

Furthermore, as this study mirrored one done before that was officially published in the Psychology journal, there doesn't appear to be a problem. All we ever get is "preliminary" results from most studies, anyway, and those are the ones that tend to make headlines.

I hate to tell you this, but it's not about answering a question. It's about studying a hot topic of worldly conversation because A. they could get funding for it, and B. it can get you noticed. As for the study itself, they never said the results were inconclusive. YOU said that; they said the three separate experiments did indeed show a significantly clear result. They would not have published any report if the finding were "inconclusive" as you claim.

This is a combination of business and society at play, but that doesn't mean the study should be completely ignored.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 7/5/2013 11:19:00 AM

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Simcoe
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 2:00:47 PM

All research, no matter how "small" or "insignificant" it may seem, is inherently useful; perhaps not to the public at large but certainly by other researchers who may be investigating similar topics. Such research should not be dismissed but should be shared at conferences or through peer-reviewed publications. Even failures are useful as others can learn from the mistakes or what methods didn't work.

In what way was the study biased?

This just wasn't some student fumbling through research. The second author named in the article is most likely the student's thesis adviser, who ensures that the student is adhering to scientific rigor. On top of that, it's in a peer-reviewed publication.

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PC_Max
Saturday, July 06, 2013 @ 11:30:25 AM

In as much asI can not prove it, I have done scientific research, just in another field an more interesting for me, although I can say in was in social/cultural anthropology and archaeology. Some of it tied in with studying human behaviour. No I did not publish anything because it was not mine and it was for business, not for the global scientific world. So I know how research goes and when and how you publish results.

To my thinking, non-scientific, I see this "result" as more sensationalism than anything else and not scientific.

Its good to you support a result that fits your view, whether accurate or not.

I did not say they said it was inconclusive. From a scientific pov it is, because short term results mean nothing. You want results now? So you would prefer inaccuracy to more stringent and reliable results? Okay, then. Unfortunately thats not good science, but if it suits your views go ahead. I am sure if the "results" were not in line with views here it would have been denounced and trounced..Not everyone, but many.

I realize with this old now boring childish issue, which gamers and politicians have made in to some sort of stupid life changing if it does not go our way issue that results no matter what they may be, either side or both, not make any of you content. I am sure if it goes one way or the other the childish reaction will, "In you face".

Bored.

Keep Playing....be good.

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Underdog15
Saturday, July 06, 2013 @ 2:41:50 PM

It's not about celebrating the research because it supports our view, though. And no offense to your research, but is incredibly dissimilar to what is done in the field of psychology. I hadn't planned on comparing resumes, but both Ben and I have studied psychology through undergraduate courses, and I myself am taking part time courses towards my masters in Counseling Psychology. (but working F/T, I have no idea how I'm going to get 520 hours of field work towards the end of it all.... so we'll see) But nevertheless, I'm not at all unfamiliar with psychological studies, ethics, or the scientific method.

Psychology is the only science that studies the intangible. So the research methods cannot be the same as, say, archaeology. My expectation of the extent of human behavior you studied, would be in relation to the physical evidence. Sort of an after-the-fact idea of what might happen with people's behaviors, not unlike forensic science.

Psychology, like I said, is the only science that measures and investigates the intangible. And a behaviorist study like this is just one of many ways to approach psychology. It's certainly not biased, nor is it only accepted because it happens to support my view. In actuality, it only supports my view in that it's confirmation takes a small step towards affirming that what we all think is likely true.

But there's much more to be done.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 7/6/2013 2:44:03 PM

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Simcoe
Saturday, July 06, 2013 @ 5:04:28 PM

Max, after your most recent post I think I can understand where you see this from your perspective and I think we are in more agreement than we realise.

From a pure scientific and academic perspective, all research, including the small stuff and failures of methodology are useful, even if that study completely contradicts the current paradigm. Should these small studies (or contradictory ones) and their findings be consumed by the public, media or policy makers to shape/support their view? Definitely not! They should really only be consumed by others working in the field, to draw upon for similar or (in this instance) larger studies. It would be like giving one puzzle piece to a layperson and asking them what the finished puzzle will look like. Whereas to fellow researchers, who have part of the puzzle already solved or many pieces in their possession, they will see that piece, it's shape and content, and have a better idea of where it may fit into the larger puzzle.

I certainly don't think that the authors of this article believe they've just settled the debate! They know that it's a marathon and not a sprint. It is really the media, public and policy makers that want quick answers or one simple study, and you're right, not everything can be done quickly, some things do take time and will ultimately be much more comprehensive. Just like a marathon, it takes many days, weeks and months of training to go from being barely being able to run 1 km to running 42 km.

I can certainly understand and appreciate that (probably most) business and industry type research have different goals and outcomes that are different from academic or public policy research.

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Twistedfloyd
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 1:20:45 AM
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This study isn't conclusive. 20 minutes of playing one game doesn't show anything really. I guess it's a good thing, but if you really boil it down, it doesn't delve deep enough. But at the same time, it's obvious to anyone who DOES ACTUALLY PLAY VIDEO GAMES, that violent games are not the cause of violent people.

Also, I'd like to see something along the lines of what PC_Max said. A study over a long period of time that could show better results and really force people who are ignorant and are uninitiated to games that there aren't long term effects.

Kids shouldn't play violent games as Ben said. Just like kids shouldn't read violent books, watch violent shows or movies. Parents need to do a better job actually doing a bit of research in buying the right thing for their kids. Take 5 minutes. If you don't have time to do that, then you shouldn't be a parent. Games aren't just for kids.

Obviously a person who is disturbed shouldn't play violent games, but they're not disturbed because of video games. There are so many factors that can contribute to one's insanity, depression or whatever detriment they may be experiencing.

It's like everyone must be so reactionary to everything that they don't fully think through issues. It's easy to want to blame something right away for the loss of young, innocent lives like the Sandy Hook incident. But when one really and truly rationalizes their reasoning, hopefully they'll see that you can't blame the entertainment industry for this or any other tragedy.



Last edited by Twistedfloyd on 7/5/2013 1:23:15 AM

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Draguss
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 1:29:12 AM
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"Can we be done now?" not until someone comes up with something else for them to blame.

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Underdog15
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 10:59:46 AM

I say blame Madonna. Who knows what negative effects she's had on society.

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berserk
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 8:48:28 AM
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If we are gonna waste money on test we might as well do one about the effect of alcohol on drivers to see if they can still drive after a 12 pack.

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Strythe
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 9:56:00 AM
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Have they considered a study on the connection of gun accessibility to shootings yet?

They'll never find a connection to videogames. I've been playing for as long as I can remember. My parents didn't much like the shooters, fighters, or even some platformers. They really disliked Carmageddon, but I've never taken my car onto the sidewalk. I've explained many times that a videogame is just an escape, like a book or movie only more involving.

I'm constantly acknowledged as abnormally kind, polite, and caring. Maybe it's because I vent my rage in the game world. There's a study for you: Are violent gamers more passive in life?

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Simcoe
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 2:14:52 PM

Until very recently, the US CDC has been severely limited in conducting research on gun violence/mortality.

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Underdog15
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 10:40:09 AM
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Actually, Ben, I know you studied Psychology like I did. We know the real reason they -can't- study kids.

Researches cannot easily conduct research on kids playing M rated games because it does not pass ethics. Part of ethics is that there cannot be potential for harm, right?

You can't force kids to play violent games because you can't ensure their psychological safety nor guarantee you aren't negatively impacting their long term development.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 11:18:17 AM

True that.

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ProfPlayStation
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 10:41:30 AM
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Honestly, when I first heard about this study, I laughed at the methodology. A microscopic group of participants, with 20 minutes of gaming and dropped pens...yes, this proves things. Things like, I'll pick up a pen that rolls next to my foot.

Your final line is spot on, Ben. Even so, we need proper studies on what effects gaming does have, and this study isn't that. Playing games DOES have an effect on us, as does everything in which we may take part. We need data on what long-term effects there may be to violent media consumption, and not studies of what 20 minutes does to people who were likely already immersed in gaming. Looking into the issues does not harm gaming, but knee-jerk reactionary outbursts that result from a lack of proper data does harm gaming. Right now we have nothing but the latter.

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Underdog15
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 11:03:26 AM

It's a behaviorist study. I'm no behaviorist and not a fan of this type of approach personally, but the methodology is not uncommon in behaviorist psychology. And it is valid for a small question about effects on healthy adults over a 20 minute time frame.

I don't understand your complaint about the sample size. More revolutionary studies have been done on far fewer. The incredibly famous Milgram shock study, for example, since criticized for it's ethics, only studied 40 people.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 7/5/2013 11:05:58 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 11:18:16 AM

We don't know they only played for 20 minutes, or whether they played for 20 minutes every day for a week. We also don't know which parts of those games may have been played; the most visceral parts can and would have an impact in 20 minutes. In fact, those 20 minutes would likely have far more of an impact than the hour where you didn't really do anything too offensive.

We don't know those things. And the group of participants is essentially no smaller than most all studies I've seen in the past decade. So I don't see the problem.

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