New study suggests link between teenage aggression and violent games

Researchers at Canada's Brock University claim to have discovered a link between violent games and aggression in teenagers, stating that long-term players of such games are more likely to engage in hostile behaviour. As reported by The Telegraph , the psychological study took place across four years, asking 1,492 teenagers from eight different schools to report their aggressive behaviour - such as punching and kicking each other - over the entire time. Their answers were then correlated with data of how often they played violent video games, with the results suggesting a link between the two.

The study, published in the Developmental Psychology journal, claims that "Sustained violent video game play was significantly related to steeper increases in adolescents' trajectory of aggressive behavior over time", and also that non-violent video games conversely "did not predict higher levels of aggressive behavior over time". According to The Telegraph, the trend continued after other factors were taken into consideration, such as "gender, parental divorce and marijuana use".

Now, those survey-based results could mean two things. That sustained periods of playing violent games might make teenagers more aggressive - or that teenagers with aggression problems might be playing more violent games. It's funny how people tend to leap towards the first explanation. In either case, they're playing games that presumably carry age restrictions - 'violent games' is a fairly broad term after all - so we're essentially already regulating for this sort of thing. Putting this study aside, do you reckon that mainstream games are becoming too violent? Bearing in mind that the theme of E3 2012 was 'grisly neck-stabbings'.

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.