Researchers from Texas A&M, studying the effects of violent video games, have released findings claiming that violent video games might not only be harmless, but could actually help curb violent tendencies.
CVG is reporting that the Texas A&M study, conducted by Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, took 103 young adults, and began by giving them a “frustration task.” After the task was completed, the subjects were split into groups that did not play a game, played a non-violent game, played a violent game with themes of good versus evil, or played a violent game as the bad guy.
The results showed that the violent games helped reduce depression and hostile feelings through “mood management,” essentially acting as a “stress ball.” Ferguson was quick to point out that more research was necessary, but he did suggest that violent video games could actually be used as a therapy tool for teens and young adults.
As with all studies, this one should be taken with a grain of salt, but video games have become an easy target for individuals and groups looking to place blame for all of society’s woes.
The Continuing Debate
It is an endless argument, and one that will likely never have any real consensus. On one side, you have groups like the supporters of the recent California law that seeks to ban the sales of all violent video games to anyone under 18, and classify violent games in the same vein as pornography. The supporters of the law cited several studies that they claimed proved a direct correlation between violent games and violent tendencies in children. The law immediately went to court.
On the other hand, you have people like the judge in the Appeals Court that ruled against that same law, claiming that the studies presented were at best flawed, and at worst simply wrong.
“None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm, and inferences to that effect would not be reasonable,” Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 9th Circuit ruling against the law.
The decision has been appealed, and the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments later this year. Eleven states have issued amicus briefs in support of the law, while several video game publishers, developers, and industry groups have lined up on the other side.
Video games continue to draw controversy despite the notable lack of legitimate studies that show a correlation between increased violence in children and violent video games, despite studies that disprove any correlation coming from prestigious groups such as The Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health, The Journal of Adolescent Health, and the British Medical Journal, plus several studies that claim that video games can actually be beneficial in terms of cognitive functions and motor skill responses, many groups continue to vilify the video game industry and claim that violent games make children more aggressive, even though juvenile arrests for violent crimes are lower now than in 1980 .
The debate continues.