Despite scientific evidence on the matter being somewhat inconclusive, a new survey is suggesting that a large portion of people still believe that video game violence can lead to the real version being perpetrated by the player, even though a similarly large number of people also think games can be a beneficial outlet for stress and frustration.
While these results might seem contradictory, digging into the information YouGov produced in its co-op survey with Dr. Andrew Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute, shows why. 61 per cent of all responders thought real world violence could be caused by video games, but when looking at the generation gap results, it's clear that the 61 and 79 per cent of violence correlators in the 40-59 and 60+ age groups were big contributors. At the other end of the spectrum, younger responders in the 18-24 and 25-39 age groups, were almost the exact opposite, with less than 50 per cent of responders linking digital violence with actual violence, and 73 per cent and 60 per cent respectively, suggesting that gaming could be a beneficial outlet for anger or stress.
Chances are that you could put this down to the people that play video games the most, finding them more beneficial and the people that are part of the generations that came before mainstream video gaming, finding them more intimidating and more likely to see them as a cause for concern.
This is confirmed when we look at the experience gap results, which show that of those that have never played violent video games (it's never explained which games we're talking about here), over 70 per cent believed video games can cause violence, whereas those that had played “some” video games, were almost the complete opposite, with 70 per cent finding them beneficial and only 35 per cent suggesting that there was any violence link.
However that last category doesn't have the most clear cut results, as the questionnaire linked both playing a violent video game, with people that had merely watched someone else play a violent video game.
There's also a clear gender gap in the results, with women much more likely to link violent video games with its real world counterpart
Total survey size was 1,978 adults.
Fortunately, the conclusion drawn by Mr Przybylski, is that ultimately it seems familiarity with games is the main deciding factor. Those that have seen people play games, know about games and have played them themselves, exhibit the least concerns about video game violence. While this doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a link, it shows that irrational fear over the affects games might have on a person, are mostly linked with those that know nothing about them – suggesting it's more fear of the unknown, than fear of anything tangible.
This is good news and something worth holding on to, especially when you have publications like the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail publishing gamer hate articles in recent weeks and deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, suggesting that games have a “corrosive effect,” on a player's behaviour.
Survey data aside however, the best thing we (and you) can do to help combat the poor image games and gamers often get in the public eye, is to tell your stories of how gaming has had a positive effect on your life. If you have an inspiring story related to gaming, or one that helps paint gamers in a positive light, send it through to us here at: [email protected] and if it's good, we'll see about adding it to our next “benefits of gaming,” story.
KitGuru Says: Gaming is often used as a similar scapegoat to drugs. More often than not you'll hear about someone with mental health problems committing a heinous crime, with the headline sighting what sort of illegal drug they were on, or had taken in the past. What follows in the body of the story, is usually minor mentions of ongoing mental health problems, littered with much heavier references to drink and drug abuse. The same goes for video games, as the Daily Mirror story showed.
It seems to me, that mental health – which has poor provisioning for in the UK – is a bigger cause of concern than many other, much more commonly cited reasons for violence.