Video games and <BR>real-life violence

Aggressive video games can serve to make people more violent because of the reactions they cause in their brains, according to new research. The study, from the University of Missouri (MU), found that the brains of violent players become less responsive to violence.

This diminished feedback can therefore predict an increase in aggression, the investigators suggested.

Bruce Bartholow, an Associate Producer of Psychology in the MU College of Arts and Science, said: "Many researchers have believed that becoming desensitised to violence leads to increased human aggression. Until our study, however, this causal association had never been demonstrated experimentally."

Mr Bartholow explained that video games can act as excellent teaching tools from a psychological perspective, as they reward gamers when they engage in certain types of behaviour.

He added it is "unfortunate" that this tends to come in the form of violence on many platforms.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Simon Goodson from the University of Huddersfield said: "The study does not actually investigate the responses of the participants while they are playing video games. In addition, no validated measures of aggression are used in the study so the conclusion must be treated with caution."

"In research where these factors are taken into account no link between violent video games and aggression can be established."

"In contrary, recent research presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference, Goodson & Pearson (2011) has shown that video games with real life content, such as football, elicit farm more emotional responses and brain activity than games of extreme violence."

"This has also been demonstrated with driving games, Pearson & Goodson (2010). It would appear that events that trigger emotion responses in real life can also evoke similar responses when modelled in video games."

"The majority of research linking violent video games to heightened levels of aggression is very poorly designed, lacks validity and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the topic under investigation, i.e. video games."

"There is now a growing body of literature that has addressed these flaws and is unable to support the link between violent video games and aggression."

Earlier this month, Dr Simon Goodson and Sarah Pearson from the University of Huddersfield presented research at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Glasgow that found playing football video games induces stronger emotional responses than violent platforms do.