Government Study: No Conclusive Evidence That Violent Games Affect Children

Government Study: No Conclusive Evidence That Violent Games Affect Children

A statement released today by the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’ Connor states that a review of existing research has found that “there is no conclusive evidence that violent computer games have a greater impact on players than other violent media, such as movies or music videos.”

The statement released was short, and focused on three main points:

– there is no conclusive evidence that violent computer games have a greater impact on players than other violent media, such as movies or music videos
– there is stronger evidence of short-term effects from violent computer games, than long-term effects
– some research finds that violent computer games are a small risk factor in aggressive behaviour over the short term, but these studies do not thoroughly explore other factors such as aggressive personality, family and peer influence and socio-economic status.

This is a grand step forward for the R18+ debate. It was the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’ Connor who initially called for more input from the silent majority after an overwhelming percentage of submissions during the recent consultation period. As far as we are aware a review of the academic literature, with regards to the effects of violent video games, was one of the major points of discussion planned for the upcoming SCAG meeting.

Brendan O’ Connor will most likely chair of the upcoming SCAG meeting, and it’s possible that this press release is a pre-emptive strike against lobby groups who would no doubt complain if an R18+ rating was to be pushed through.

But above all, this release informs us that the R18+ has become an important one for government, and has been discussed pre-emptively. The Departmental Offices for the Attorneys-General typically meet up to six weeks before a SCAG meeting, so it’s possible that some sort of decision making process is already underway to an extent.

In any case, we have to keep up the pressure. We’re remaining optimistic.


  • So…

    … The government finally found out why we were baging our swords against our shields for so long?

    Bah, I should be happy! At least they’re doing something now! 😀

    • Shhh… Swords and shields is violent behaviour!!

      Banging our spoons on pots! Because we’ve been playing cooking momma thats all! 😉

        • That too is sexist!

          It’s “Cooking Person”, which focuses on creating healthy edible food regardless of any social stereotyping.

          Back to the point, I’m all for this, hopefully we’ll get the classification and stop kiddies dabbling in games they shouldn’t be…

    • Grassroots mate. Grassroots. We’ve all been there from the start. All of us. We’re seeing it slowly come to fruition with these people waking up to themselves.

      I think personally my biggest surprise was seeing Mel and Koschie on Sunrise in favor of it and the Family First guy having no feasable argument against it at all. Two years ago, it would’ve been slammed on TV, and it was, on the ABC. It was a joke. But now, it’s being taken *very* seriously.

      So again, yeah, you should be happy, so should I. I guess it’s a little overwhelming, and underwhelming at the same time, I understand why. But it’s definitely positive…

  • The thing that people need to bear in mind is that in the vast majority of cases, the games will be no more violent than those already out. It is simply a case of having the same content being classified correctly in accordance with how the rest of our media is classified.
    This just means that a 15 year old will no longer be able to purchase a game that has the equivalent of an R18+ rating overseas, and I can imagine parents being much stricter about buying an R rated game for a child due to the social stigma that seems to exist around this rating.
    It’s not infallible, but it’s a better system, and a great place to start.

  • This is much better than the last government report I read (from what I remember I think it was penned 10-20 years ago) that seemed to be the foundation for the anti-R18+ rating position.
    In that report no academic studies were consulted. Instead it was decided that violent video games were harmful to children; because a survey of public opinion (i.e: a survey of public ignorance) produced that hypothesis. Of course the people who wrote the report did some of the most fancy number dancing I’ve ever seen in a statistical survey to produce that result. It was breathtakingly biased. The questions the surveyors were required to ask, were gallantly and obviously designed to sway the results against the possibility of violent video games.

    This is much better.

    • I really really thought we would get an R rating ten years ago, I still remember the pain,anger and the feeling of being lost when I watched the news that night and found out that was not the case. I suspect that night was the night I decided to became a cynical recluse venturing out ONLY if the house was mostly on fire.

  • Wow, a positive sign from the government, I was not expecting this.
    However, after being stung multiple times before I just can’t get too optimistic about the upcoming SCAG meeting.
    If they end up giving games equal classification to other media then I certainly will be pleasantly surprised (and may even bust out a happy dance, at work, in front of my manager)

  • “some research finds that asking someone for the time has only a small risk factor of getting beaten and stabbed, but these studies do not thoroughly explore other factors, such as asking someone who is schizophrenic, high on crystal meth and armed with several knives and a chain saw.”

    that’s basically what I saw when I read that last one. sounds like you would just be scraping the bottom of the barrel for proof if you were to do that. and that, maybe some of those other factors are the bigger deal, to the point of making the impact of violent games negligible.

    • What they’re saying is that those studies did not control or account for other variables known or suspected to cause an increase in aggressive behavior, such as having abusive parents. The studies laid all the fault for increases in aggression* at the feet of video games, regardless of whether it was causal or not. As subsequent studies went on to show, if you controlled for those variables, any increase in aggression, more often than not, vanished.

      *as is noted in the lit review, whether or not there was, indeed, an increased level of aggression following the play of violent video games is, in and of itself, highly debatable.

    • It does seem like you’d have to put in some pretty improbable variables to actually get a result where a violent videogame would increase violent behaviour in someone, but without accounting for them the study really isn’t as thorough as it could be.

  • Wow, misleading headline “violent video games don’t affect kids” uh, no, the article says that violent video games don’t affect kids more than other violent media. Seriously, there’s going to be some effect if kids play the video game equivalents of ma15+ movies.

  • As Geordie Guy of the EFA says over in his blog, the most important thing we can take away from this review is the following:

    The anti-games lobby has spent over 20 years and tens of millions of dollars trying to dig up strong proof that video games cause harm. They have spectacularly failed to do so on every count. The conclusion to draw from this long, drawn-out failure is that they are wrong.

  • I don’t get what these studies do. Children shouldn’t be playing violent video games in the first place! That’s why we have a ratings system. O wait…. Then again now we are staying we don’t need an R18+ because violent video games made for adults are suitable for kids. So the Australian Govenment was right all along. We don’t need to rate anything for adults, just slot it into MA 15+.

  • In other Kotaku headlines:


    A government statement released today states that a review of existing research has found that “there is no conclusive evidence that being shot in the head has a greater impact on children than other fatal head trauma, such as a hand grenade in the mouth or being run over by a truck from the head up.

    • Actually if you read the report, or most other literature reviews on the effects of video game violence, you’ll find that there is no conclusive evidence of violent media having long term effects on children, but point taken.

      • ‘Twas greatly appreciated help. And honestly, I wish I was still doing it, but running a political party and campaign et al takes a lot of time, and leave no time for actual paying gigs.

        As much as Dave and I would have loved to keep at it, we simply couldn’t afford to, at least not in the same way.

  • JESUS PEOPLE!!! Why are we talking about R18+ ratings for games when there are more important issues… y’know, like ‘Gay Marriage’ and ‘Climate Change’

  • Pro 18+ Game Rating checklist
    * Gamers, check!
    * Academia, check!
    * Religious groups, 50:50.
    * Politicians, still on the fence.
    * Mom’n’Pop voters, still clueless.

    Well, we’re halfway there. 🙂

    • 50:50 is as well as we can do with the religious groups because as the geat house M.D once said “if you could reason with religious people there wouldent be any religious people”

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