When a major new video game comes out and there is any representation of a gun, you can rest assured that certain parts of the media will be all over it, first pointing out the morally corrupt parts of the title, then just waiting for the first major crime to come their way that they can tie in with the game somehow.
And they have often looked to back up those potential links with research that finds video games to desensitize and build up anger in users young and slightly older, but there is now a new study that has been thrown into that argument as part of the opposite side.
The study, conducted by the DeLand (Florida, USA)-based Stetson University, declared that video games are not resulting in more violent consumers. and that levels of ‘violent crime’ perpetrated by people in the 12-to-17 age group declined in correlation to increased video gaming, perhaps supporting the ‘let off some steam’ school of thought.
It was noted that the overall context of a game and its storyline in well-known franchises (such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty (pictured)), much like the context of movies, TV shows, or music receives under such scrutiny, should be considered before rival studies jump to rash conclusions.
Christopher Ferguson, the psychologist who led the examination, stated: “The degree to which laboratory studies faithfully capture the media experience is also debatable. Many such studies provide exposure to only brief clips of media, rather than full narrative experiences, in which violence exposure is outside of a narrative context.
“The resultant aggressive behaviors are also outside a real-world context, in which the aggression appears to be sanctioned by the researchers themselves, who provide the opportunity for aggression. The close pairing of clips of media violence with sanctioned aggression asks may also set up demand characteristics that may explain the small effects typically seen from such studies. The degree to which such studies, regardless of their inconsistent results, can be generalised to societal aggression remains debatable.”
With the all-clear from a university psychologist, then, you are free to view this clip as the virtual “Trevor” leaves his safehouse in the Vanilla Unicorn to rack up virtual crimes worthy of a virtual 5-star wanted level then virtually get away with it, whilst you watch with enjoyment and feel no need to go out and do the same in real life provided you are a relatively normal person, thus proving the sensationalist sources wrong, if they hadn’t already been long ago…