Violence In Video Games: Bad For Kids?

When the zombies invade, your kids will be ready.

When the zombies invade, your kids will be ready.


USA Today is carrying a story about new research that was recently presented to the American Psychological Association by psychologist Patrick Markey of Villanova University. Markey’s research attempted to demonstrate a correlation between aggressive behavior in youths and violence in video games. What he found, however, was that while violence itself had little discernible effect on aggression, certain “highly competitive” games did (regardless of whether the games were violent or not). Markey’s research echoed what many gamers have been saying all along — that violent games don’t turn people into killers, rather certain individuals are simply more prone to violence for various reasons. Markey suggests that for children who are “moody, impulsive, or…unfriendly”, violent video games are possibly ill-advised.

It’s worth noting that Markey’s study only answers one question in what is still a complicated and poorly-understood issue. Other research has suggested that violent video games may desensitize individuals to violence and inhibit empathy, the implications of which are potentially as worrisome as increased aggression. While many concerned parents and lawmakers lobby for stricter controls on the sale of violent video games, others are quick to point out that much like the movie industry, the games industry has a self-regulating body (the ESRB) to screen products for content and provide comprehensive ratings to parents. The ESRB even provides detailed descriptions of the questionable content in many new games, so parents have something to reference other than the blurbs and screenshots on the game boxes — see an example for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations here.

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