Gaming News: New Study Claims 20 Minutes Of Violent Video Gameplay Encourages Aggressive Behavior

By December 13, 2012

A new study claims that playing violent video games for 20 minutes a day can lead to increased aggressive behaviors.

Here’s how it went:

70 French university students were told they would be taking part in a three-day study on the effects of brightness of video games on visual perception, then to play either a violent (Condemned 2Call of Duty 4 and The Club) or non-violent game (S3K SuperbikeDirt2 and Pure) as chosen by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology every day for three days.

They were then told to play either a violent or non-violent game for 20 minutes everyday for three consecutive days by the researchers from the University Pierre Mendhs-France and the University of Hohenheim, Germany.

The violent games chosen as part of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s study were Condemned 2, Call of Duty 4 and The Club, with S3K Superbike, Dirt2 and Pure for the non-violent group.

After the pre-determined time of gameplay, the students were given the beginning of a story and asked to list 20 things the main character will do or say as the story unfolds to measure their “hostile expectations”.

The students then participated in a competitive reaction time task used to measure aggression, each being told they would compete against an unseen opponent where the object was to be the first to respond to a visual cue on the screen; the loser getting a nasty sound blast (nails on a chalkboard, sirens, etc) through their headphones with the volume and length decided by the “winner”. Only thing about it is that there WAS no opponent and the subjects told they succeeded half of the time. 

At the end of each of the three days, results showed that those who played the violent games had an increase in “hostile expectations”, thinking the characters in game would also react with aggressive and violent actions.

Lead author of the study, Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, USA compare the long term effects to smoking. 

“It’s important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games.  Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won’t cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression.”

Bushman goes on to say that “after playing a violent video game, we found that people expect others to behave aggressively.”

To quote Jules Winfield from Pulp Fiction:

“Well, allow me to retort.”

Right off the bat, this study is pure weapons grade bolognium.

First of all, if I were playing a game against a mystery opponent knowing the outcome could result in something very loud and very annoying potentially damaging my hearing, I’d be effin pissed off and want to resort to violence, too.

Secondly, the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), a non-profit organization that gives gamers a place to “communicate concerns, address their issues and focus their advocacy efforts” that INCLUDES studies on violence in video games.

And guess what THEY had to say?

“There has never been a causal link established between real-life violence and videogame violence in any verifiable scientific study. Despite this, politicians continue to attempt to link videogames and violence, drafting bills that attempt to regulate minors’ access to games, require mandatory labeling, and censor gaming.”

Sound familiar?


  • As videogames have become more popular in the U.S., violent crime has decreased dramatically, particularly among youth.
  • In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General found that: “…it was extremely difficult to distinguish between the relatively small long-term effects of exposure to media violence and those of other influences.
  • In the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report on school violence, Lessons Learned: An FBI Perspective School Violence Seminar, they include a school shooter profile listing thirty factors that may be indicators of potentially devastating violent acts, but the FBI excluded playing video games from that list.
  • In a four part series on rampage killings, the New York Times examined the influence of media on offenders’ actions and found: “While the killings have caused many people to point to the violent aspects of the culture, a closer look shows little evidence that video games, movies or television encouraged many of the attacks.”

I’m not surprised this study was conducted in Europe and the findings being what they are considering the U.S. version of the film Reservoir Dogs was banned from several countries due to violence for YEARS; I have friends in the U.K. who’ve NEVER seen the film in it’s intended form.

Let’s also talk about the fact that last year’s study conducted by the Brigham Young University School of Family Life showed that girls between the ages of 11 and 16 who play video games with their parents (mostly fathers) are better behaved, felt more connected to their families, felt less depressed AND (you guessed it) LESS AGGRESSIVE.

“When parents play video games with their daughters, they may be sending a myriad of messages. First, parents may show that they are willing to engage in an activity that is important to daughters. Second, playing video games can represent quality time between a daughter and a parent, especially when such play involves conversation between parent–child.” – from The Journal of Adolescent Health’s Game On. . . Girls: Associations Between Co-playing Video Games and Adolescent Behavioral and Family Outcomes

When it comes to gaming, the actions you conduct outside of game are YOURS and YOURS ALONE. Using convoluted excuses like the Twinkie defense to explain away the decision to open fire on innocent people is bullsh*t and REAL gamers know that whatever happens in game ENDS when the game ends.

As a parent, you need to be aware what your kids are playing – simple as that.  A great deal of these games, Call of Duty included, give the option to turn off the violence and tone down the language.  Your children need to know that when you kill (or die) in real life, that’s it; no respawns available and repercussions are VERY real.

Hell, play WITH your kids.  Healthy discussions during gameplay are no different than watching a football game with your kids while explaining the rules…and who knows? Y’all could bond over a nice game of Halo.

Play safe and game on, everyone.

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee