Claims of links between video games and violence have been drawn out in popular media and news cycles for decades, no matter how many times they’re refuted. Now, a new metastudy analysing the study of video game violence in academia has ruled definitively there are no proven links between playing video games and enacting real life violence.
The new metastudy, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, reanalysed several years of data from studies of violence and the influence of video games on the human brain. It was designed to prove or disprove a link between playing video games for longer than three months and developing aggressive real life behaviours.
Each of the 28 studies analysed ranged in size and quality but shared the goal of investigating the impact of video game violence on real life actions. Over 21,000 young people were included in total.
Lead by Massey University’s Dr Aaron Drummond, the report found any impact on aggression was “too small to be practically meaningful“. Dr Drummond said the “high-quality studies” analysed had such a small correlation between video game violence and real life aggression it was “indistinguishable from zero.”
The metastudy concluded that “current research is unable to support the hypothesis that violent video games have a meaningful long-term predictive impact on youth aggression.” It added that psychologists and other health professionals should be more forthcoming about the current state of research into video game violence and its very minor relationship with aggression in young people.
Video games are often spoken of negatively in mainstream media despite frequent studies and analysis proving no correlation between video games and violence. From the evidence available so far, video games don’t influence real life aggression in any meaningful way and should never be scapegoated.
Games can connect people, entertain through hard times and lead us to introspection. The mainstream narrative around games is evolving, but there’s a long way to go. This metastudy helps challenge those long-held biases around video games in the mainstream, but the fight won’t end here.