Since the introduction of Mortal Kombat, video games have been seen as the cause of violent behaviors in children. With games becoming more realistic and having better graphics than ever, more adults believe the industry should have stricter regulations. Games such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and even indie games such as Paper Please introduce players to the dark natures of humanity but turns it into a game. However, scientists have shown that there is no evidence to prove that violent video games have no correlation with violent behaviors.

With a sample size of 3000 people, University of York ran a study to see if video games cause “priming.” The dominant model of learning in games is built on the idea that exposing players to concepts, such as violence in a game, makes those concepts easier to use in ‘real life’ (University of York). The test was based on reaction time, realism and combat games.

They tested the users with two different types of games. One example used realistic game physics with ragdoll physics while the other wasn’t. The realistic game creates characters that move and react in the same way like they would in real life.  Human characters are based on the human body and how that skeleton would fall if it was injured. After playing the games, players were tasked to complete word puzzles called “word fragment completion tasks.” Researchers expected violent word associations would be chosen for players who played the game that employed more realistic behaviors. They also compared players who were playing one game with realistic military behavior type enemies while the other didn’t have it.

Dr David Zendle from the University’s Department of Computer Science found that the priming of violent concepts measured by word fragment completion tasks was not detected. There was no difference between games with ragdoll physics or games without the feature and games with realistic military enemies or without it. The University of York found no connection between realistic games and violent behaviors.

Dr Zendle is looking to have further studies with different forms of realism and violence. They are considering adding realistic characters, torture gameplay and trying the experiments on adults.

Opinion:

I believe the study was a good showcase of proving to people who violent video games aren’t the cause of violent behavior. Parenting, surrounding environments, and the people around them have a much bigger effect on personality rather than video games. Hopefully, this will lead to less government push on regulating gameplay.

Sources:

University of York

Priming in Video Games

Behavioural realism and the activation of aggressive concepts in violent video games

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