A new study by a professor at a Florida university basically proves what so many of us have been thinking for years—there’s no connection between violent video games (and movies) and real-life violence.
According to a press release, Stetson University professor Christopher Ferguson looked at the following in his study:
- Movie violence and homicide rates between 1920 and 2005
- Video game violence consumption and its relationship to youth violence rates from 1996-2011
And when it was all said and done, “He found that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased violence rates in society.”
To give a bit more information on the video game violence portion of the study, Ferguson looked at the correlation between “the violent content of the most popular video games for the years 1996-2011″ and “federal data on youth violence during the same years.” He found that the consumption of violent video games actually correlated with a decline in violence among the youth. That being said, “it was concluded that such a correlation is most likely due to chance and does not indicate video games caused the decline in youth violence.” In other words, the youth didn’t become less violent because they were playing violent games.
Here’s what Ferguson had to say about his findings:
“Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime. There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health.
“This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value.”
I’m going to keep my own personal feelings out of all this, but I encourage a healthy discussion of this topic in the comments if you feel moved to do so.
Also, yes, I chose the above image from the Grand Theft Auto series for a reason. It is, without question, the most obvious choice, as it’s easily the most popular video game franchise alongside Call of Duty in terms of sales. Sure, there have been games with more violent/over-the-top imagery, but how many people do you know that played (and actually enjoyed) the Manhunt games? Not many, right? I’ll admit that I gave the first one a chance, but it was way too dull and slow to maintain my attention. Also, the brutal ways in which you killed people just felt, well, wrong.