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Another study finds no significant links between violence and gaming

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A recent study into a hypothesised connection between violent video games and aggression has found no positive correlation between games and the behaviour of the 1,004 teen participants after multiple tests. 

Associate professor Andrew K. Przybylski of Oxford University and senior lecturer Netta Weinstein of Cardiff University predicted that "recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behaviour." The results did not back this up at all, however, and also came up with no evidence that there's a critical tipping point where playing a game could cause aggression. 

The studio found that participants—50 percent male, 50 percent female and between the ages of 14 and 15—were "moderately engaged in violent games", spending an average of two hours playing them on a normal day. The study was survey-based, with teens and carers being asked questions regarding the games they play and their behaviour after playing them. The screening questionnaire has been used widely to analyse "psychosocial functioning" of children ranging from 4 to 17 years old. 

Linear regression modelling was employed to look for links using data like trait-level aggression, gender and time spent playing, but the results were not what the researchers expected. They "did not support our prediction that there are statistically significant links relating violent gaming to adolescents' aggressive behaviour," reads the study. 

Further testing came to the same conclusion. Equivalence testing, comparing the results with other literature on the subject, found that the "observed effect relating violent gaming to aggressive behaviour was both statistically and practically insignificant."

Another regression model used PEGI ratings. Age ratings were used to give games scores from 0 to 3, depending on how violent they were. With a violent game badge and an age rating of 18, for instance, a game would receive a score of 3. The ratings were then combined with how much time was spent playing. Again, nothing. Using ESRB ratings instead resulted in similar findings. 

A prosocial behaviour test was also conducted to see if carers' impressions of a child's helpfulness was influenced by violent games. There wasn't any significant connection, once again. 

It seemed like the debate over video game violence had properly been put to rest, but the massive popularity of Fortnite among kids and teens has got some people panicking all over again. Unfortunately, the results from this study probably won't change the fact that some people are always going to be baffled by games.

"Despite the null findings identified in the present study, history gives us reason to suspect the idea that violent video games drives aggressive behaviour will remain an unsettled question for parents, pundits and policy-makers."

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.