Ever since the video game market was revived in the 1990’s by Nintendo and SEGA, there has been a prevailing concern that video games make people more violent. Even when the enemies on the screen were pixelated 2D figures, people were afraid that video games desensitized youths to violence, and made them more willing to commit actual acts of violence. If you have ever considered yourself a gamer, odds are that you have been presented with this argument in one way or another.
A psychologist at Stetson University in Florida, Christopher Ferguson, decided that it was time to settle the debate about video games and violence, or to at least give people a better understand of the relationship between the two. To illustrate the relationship between media and violence, Ferguson conducted two studies.
In the first study Ferguson compared movie violence and homicide rates from 1920-2005. In this study Ferguson found a small correlation between movie violence and homicide rates in the mid 1900’s. However, in the early and late 1900’s the relationship was the inverse, which means that the higher one category was, the other category was that much lower, or vice versa.
Ferguson’s second study compared video game consumption with youth violence rates for the past 20 years. In this study Ferguson found that video game consumption actually correlated with a decline in youth violence rates, rather than an increase in the rates.
In both of the studies, Ferguson presents compelling evidence that video games and other media do not cause violence in their own right. While Ferguson’s study isn’t the beat all end all of studies on media and violence, it definitely helps shed light on the issue and gives gamers a legitimate study to reference so they can defend their hobby against critics.
If you’re interested in reading the study in its entirety, click on the link below.