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Study Claims Link Between Gaming and Real-World Violence

by Rainier on Jan. 12, 2006 @ 1:09 p.m. PST

A new study by the University of Missouri-Columbia claims that there might be a link between video game violence and increased aggressive real-life behavior in gamers. Study subjects who played violent video games showed diminished brain responses to images of real-life violence which, according to the study's authors, correlates to aggressive behavior.

The University recruited 39 experienced gamers, showed images of nonviolent as well as violent scenes, while their brain waves were recorded. Subjects with the most experience in playing violent games displayed lower response rates to the violent images. These players also were discovered to be more enthusiastic about "punishing" an opponent in subsequent gameplay.

Although there has been much discussion regarding violence in games, the new study actually is one of the few academic undertakings on the subject. A study done by the University of Illinois last year claimed that there is no evidence of a strong link between video-game violence and real-life aggression in players.

The connection between game violence and real-life violence has been debated for years, and likely will continue to be the focus of attention, said Jason Della Rocca, program director for the International Game Developers Association.

Those in the game industry have heard such arguments before, particularly after a tragedy like the school shootings in Columbine, which some attributed partly to the killers' affection for violent gameplay.

Della Rocca believes that, as violence continues to be prevalent in society, and games get even more popular, games will continue to be a source of blame. "It's easy for people to point to games and say that they brainwash people or make them act in certain ways," he said. "But in reality, there are social pressures and family issues, and a huge range of factors that go into how people behave. Games are just an easy scapegoat."

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