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Are Violent Video Games Actually Good For Society?

There has long been a fear about the effects of violent video games on players, with people thinking that they make players less empathetic by normalising violence. However, a new study shows that the opposite may actually be true!

Researchers measured the brain signals of 15 avid gamers and found that their empathetic neural responses were unaffected by hours of playing violent video games and have the same responses to emotionally impactful images as non-gamers.  

In fact, two British psychologists went as far as to say that violent video games may have a positive impact on society! They found that rates of violent crime are lower in nations that have high sales of violent video games. They claim:

“When we look at these countries, we find that, contrary to the fear that video games make society more dangerous, the opposite tends to be true. ‘The countries that consume the most video games, such as Japan, South Korea and the UK, are among the safest nations in the world.”

Past studies had highlighted a link between violent video games and real-life violence, but a team of researchers in Hannover say that these effects are short term, lasting just two to three hours.

Their research found:

“The link between violent media, such as violent movies and video games, and real-life aggression and violence, has been discussed and analysed since these types of media have existed. Some of this has taken the form of tabloid hysteria, but this question has also been addressed by numerous scientific studies. Previous studies have shown that people who play violent video games can be desensitised towards emotional stimuli – such as violence – and show decreased empathy, and increased aggression. But there have been very few studies that have examined the long-term effects of playing violent video games.”

The studies took people who had played violent video games, such as Call of Duty, for at least 2 hours each day for the last four years and compared them with those who had never played violent video games. The gamers were told to refrain from playing for at least three hours before the study so as to remove any short-term effects. Psychological questionnaires were used in the Hannover study while participants were also scanned by MRI machines and shown emotionally provocative images in order to stimulate an empathetic response. None of these tests showed a difference between gamers and non-gamers.

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The results surprised the researchers who feel that more needs to be done to look into the possible long-term effects of violent video games and other media, such as movies.

 

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