It is commonly speculated that violent video games may cause gamers with autism to turn aggressive and act violently. However, a new study has found that violent video games do not affect adults with autism spectrum disorder differently than typically developing adults.
Lead author Christopher Engelhardt, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, said, "If violent video games caused adults with autism spectrum disorder to behave aggressively, we should have seen some evidence of this in our study but we did not. There are some caveats to our findings. For example, we only exposed participants to violent or non-violent games for 15 minutes before measuring their willingness to behave aggressively. This study, therefore, cannot speak to the potential long term effects of violent video game exposure."
More than 100 adults between the ages of 17 and 25 years, half with autism spectrum disorder and half typically developing, were part of the study. The participants engaged in a task to measure aggression after playing one of two video games that differed only in the amount of violence present in the game. The task led the participants to believe they were competing against another person in a trial to test their reaction times. If the participant won the trial, he or she could 'blast' their opponent with a loud noise. The length and volume of that noise could be determined by the participant, which allowed the researchers to measure aggression levels in the participants.