Video Games and the Perception of Violence

The University of Oxford released the results of a fascinating study on how video games are perceived. People who do not play video games are far more likely to believe there is a link between video games and real world violence / aggression. Older men who haven’t played video games are three and a half times more likely to believe there’s a link. Women are twice as likely to believe it.

The struggle to understand the relationship between violence and video games is an ongoing one. Politicians, political pundits, and others in a position of authority seem to find video games as a convenient scapegoat. Hell, outside of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), there’s no real organization that’s attempting to fight for gamer’s rights. Before I go on, the ECA has a nice fact sheet on this topic that you can find here. Interesting note about the ECA: they actually wrote an amicus brief (friend of the court) to the Supreme Court that supported the industry back in 2011 during an important case (for details on the case, click here).

Let’s be honest, the topic is not cut and dry. There’s reason to doubt there’s a link between video games and violence. We’ve had an increase of video game revenue from 1995 through 2008, and during that time violent crimes have not skyrocketed.


This year, we saw the financial success of Grand Theft Auto V. It took three days for it to break $1 billion in sales, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history. Note: not only fastest selling video game in history, the fastest selling out of ALL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTS. And is GTA V violent? Hell yes. If video games help contribute to violence, I’d expect to see a huge outburst of violent crimes shortly after GTA V was released. And you know what? I didn’t see it. If we did not see an increase in violent crime after a truly violent, and successful, video game like GTA V was released, it’s highly doubtful that there’s a direct relationship between video games and violent crime.


I could go on and on. Like when Mass Effect was blamed for a school shooting. Seriously. Here’s a review you can find on Amazon (click the picture to be taken right to it) where a guy actually blames the game over Sandy Hook.


I’m not going to claim that there’s no relationship at all between video games and violence/aggression. It’s pretty clear we are influenced in some way by the things we read, watch and/or experience. I don’t know how we are influenced, but realize that we are.


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