The impact of violent games on young people is an issue of concern of many parents, psychiatrists, and governments since it may become the reason for the increase in the level of aggression among players. However, the literature on this topic contains significant differences due to the research methods and approaches. The studies often contradict one another; some identify that violence in video games can reduce the level of negative emotions by freeing them during the game while others claim that playing violent video games can result in aggressive behavior. Although a significant number of studies proposed the effects of aggression provoking games on the increased level of stress and aggression, those findings are not proven to have long-term consequences.
A study by Schareer et al. (2018) provides the ground to state that video games do influence the behavior of gamers. In their observation, Schareer et al. (2018) reviewed studies conducted earlier by other researchers. The review recognizes limitations in all studies, but “find that most data that are available on the topic do point to the connection between playing video games and some form of aggression” (Schareer et al., 2018, p. 15). Although most of the researches point to the link between violence in video games and the sensitiveness to aggressive behavior, Schareer et al. (2018) did not find the long-term outcomes of violent video games and the transfer of the play’s patterns into real life.
Conversely, despite the primary concern that violence in video games provoke aggression, a study by Roy and Ferguson (2016) emphasized that violent games reduced the stress level among the research participants. For the study Roy and Ferguson (2016) monitored pre and post self-reports blood pressure, and heart rate as a measure of the emotional reaction to the video game. According to the results, the effects of competitive and cooperative gameplay were proved decreasing heart rate and systolic blood pressure, as well as self-reported stress, concluding that a “game with mild violence is effective as a means to reduce stress, whether played cooperatively or competitively” (Roy & Ferguson, 2016, p.15). However, the study by Porter and Goolkasian (2019) assessed Roy and Ferguson’s findings and suggested that without objective psychological measures, it is not possible to identify whether violent video games decrease the level of stress.
The limitation of the previously mentioned research evaluated by Porter and Goolkasian (2019) found that emotional and psychological stress outcomes can move in different directions. For instance, violent gameplay increased heart rate and blood pressure, but violent players also had higher positive emotion ratings than nonviolent players (Porter & Goolkasian, 2019). Emotional and physiological stress outcomes showed different results, and violent gameplay predicted a physiological stress response while also inducing more positive emotions. Nevertheless, as Porter and Goolkasian (2019) emphasized, the possible increases in blood pressure during the game would return to the baseline immediately after the gameplay. The study concluded that all the possible increases in cardiovascular activities would not remain any negative psychological effects. Thus, even if some stress factors are induced, they are not to remain after the game.
The impact of video games on violent behavior needs a more thorough observation to reveal its evident affect. Kuhn et al. (2018) was observing and testing the behavior of violent video game players for two months. He conducted the research including three target groups: those who played violent video games, non-violent video games, and those who did not play at all for two months. The research did not reveal any specific changes in aggression, empathy, impulsivity-related constructs, depressive, anxiety, or executive control functions. Neither did it confirm differences in comparison to an active control group playing non-violent video games nor to a passive control group. Kühn et al. (2018) came to the conclusion that “effects of violent video gaming on aggressiveness—if present at all (see above)—seem to be rather short-lived, potentially lasting <15 min” (p. 1231). This statement straightly opposes other studies that argue upon the causal relationship between violent video games and aggression.
It is important to note that research participants were the adults older than 25 and this generates a question of whether different age groups would have various results. The influence of video games on adolescents’ behavior was examined by Przybylski and Weinstein (2019). Having considered the biases in participants’ self-reported surveys, the researchers relied on the careers reports. As a result, multiple regression analyses tested to predict whether recent violent gameplay was “linearly and positively related to careers assessments of aggressive behavior” (Przybylski &Weinstein, 2019, p.14). The findings did not support the prediction: there was no evidence for a relationship between playing violent games and aggressive behavior.
To conclude, the latest studies did not find any evidence supporting the relationship between violent video games and their contribution to the long-term effect on aggressive behavior. Even though the findings of the previous studies confirmed aggressive behavior generated during violent video games, those results were further proven to have only short term effects. Nevertheless, the conducted study recommends further research in accordance with the current limitations.
Kühn, S., Kugler, D. T., Schmalen, K., Weichenberger, M., Witt, C., & Gallinat, J. (2018). Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study. Molecular Psychiatry, 24(2019), 1220–1234. Web.
Porter, A. M., & Goolkasian, P. (2019). Video games and stress: How stress appraisals and game content affect cardiovascular and emotion outcome. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(967), 1-94. Web.
Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2019). Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: Evidence from a registered report. Royal Society Open Science, 6(2), 1–16. Web.
Roy, A., & Ferguson, C. (2016). Competitively versus cooperatively? An analysis of the effect of game play on levels of stress. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 14-20. Web.
Schareer, E., Kamau, G., Warren, S., & Zhang, C. (2018). Violent video games do contribute to aggression. In C. J. Ferguson (Ed.), Video game influences on aggression, cognition, and attention (pp. 5-21). Springer.