The tenuous link between video games and violent behaviour has been long running and fiercely debated on both sides.
There is no questioning the fact that many – if not most – video games rely on on element of violence for their entertainment factor, but there has been little proof to show that leads to violent behaviour in real life.
The gaming community, who have often been scapegoated, have for years been doing all they can to refute.
Now, the findings of a new ten-year long study might just be the news they have been waiting so long for.
Titled “Growing Up with Grand Theft Auto: A 10-Year Study of Longitudinal Growth of Violent Video Game Play in Adolescents,” the study has found that there is, in fact, no correlation between violent video games leading to violent behaviour later in life.
As a rare longitudinal study, it used an individual-centred approach, covering variables from gender, socio-economic status and location to compare the individual against their group.
As a result, the findings are considered to be wide ranging and very comprehensive.
The group of people studied was made up of 65% Caucasian, 12% Black, 19% multi-ethnic, and 4% other ethnic identity individuals in a ‘large north-western city’.
The results showed that boys tend to play more violent video games than girls, and that three subsets were uncovered.
The first is “high-initial violence” (4%) which pertained to those that played many violent video games at a young age; the second is “moderate initial violence” (23%), and the third is “low initial violence” (73%).
High and moderate initial violent groups showed a decrease in violent video game play over the course of the ten years while the low initial violence group showed an increase.
The study ultimately reported, however, that there was “no difference in prosocial behaviour at the final time point across all the three groups.”
In other words, there was no evidence to suggest that playing violent video games as a child could be directly linked to violent behaviour as an adult.