It is widely believed that violent video games have a negative impact on kids, leading to increased aggression. But now a researcher at the University of Essex, England, suggest that there is no obvious link between the two.
In fact, Patrick Kierkegaard of the University of Essex, England, suggests that there is a slight scientific evidence that video games are harmless and do not lead to real world aggression.
In addition, his study shows that previous work is biased towards the opposite conclusion.
Video games have come a long way since the simplistic ping-pong and cascade games of the early 1970s, the later space age Asteroids and Space Invaders, and the esoteric Pac-man.
Currently, severed limbs, drive-by shootings, and decapitated bodies captivate a new generation of gamers and gruesome scenes of violence and exploitation are the norm.
Kierkegaard explains that award-winning video games, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, thrive on murder, theft, and destruction on every imaginable level, and gamers boost their chances of winning the game by a virtual visit to a prostitute with subsequent violent mugging and recovery of monies exchanged.
Video games such as '25 To Life' remain controversial with storylines involving violent gangs taking hostages and killing cops, while games such as World of Warcraft and Doom are obviously unrelated to the art of crochet or gentle country walks.
Kierkegaard points out that these violent games are growing more realistic with each passing year and most relish their plots of violence, aggression and gender bias.
However, he wanted to find out if there is any scientific evidence to support the claims that violent games contribute to aggressive and violent behaviour.
Stories about gamers obsessed with violent games and many research reports that claim to back up the idea that virtual violence breeds real violence seem to suggest a link between games and aggression.
Kierkegaard has examined a range of such studies several of which have concluded since the early 1980s that video games can lead to juvenile delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods and violent criminal behaviour such as assault and robbery.
And evidence from brain scans carried out while gamers play also seem to support a connection between playing video games and activation of regions of the brain associated with aggression.
However, Kierkegaard said that there is no obvious link between real-world violence statistics and the advent of video games.
He said that the effect in fact seems to be the exact opposite and one might argue that video game usage has reduced real violence.
According to Kierkegaard, the research is inconclusive.
It is possible that certain types of video game could affect emotions, views, behaviour, and attitudes, however, so can books, which can lead to violent behaviour on those already predisposed to violence.
The inherent biases in many of the research studies examined point to a need for a more detailed study of video games and their psychological effects.
The study is published in the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry.