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Most UK Adults Believe That Games Can Cause Violence, Says New Study

Jonathan Lester
Study, Survey, UK, Video game violence

Most UK Adults Believe That Games Can Cause Violence, Says New Study

But Age, Gender & Experience Are Crucially Important

A new UK study of 2000 people suggests that a slight majority of British citizens are concerned about a link between videogames and violent behaviour. However, the results become significantly more interesting when you look at the age breakdown, with older citizens more worried than the 18-39 demographic.

The study, held by market research firm YouGov, asked its entrants whether they believe that "video/computer games can be a cause of real-world violence and aggression." 61% agreed, a statistically significant figure, but the real story is much more nuanced when you crunch the numbers [something YouGov and Dr Andrew Przybylski did off their own bat in pleasingly even-handed fashion, unlike the majority of so-called 'studies' - Jon]. Behold: a graph.

Most UK Adults Believe That Games Can Cause Violence, Says New Study

As you can see, the vast majority of 18-39 year-olds surveyed absolutely disagreed with the premise, while the polar opposite is true for older Britons. Younger entrants also overwhelmingly agreed that gaming "can be a useful outlet for frustration." It's clear that the generation gap plays a key role in our perception of both the positive and negative effects of the medium.

The gender disparity is also noteworthy. According to the study, 71% of women surveyed believes that there's a causal link between videogames and aggression, compared to 41% of males. You also won't be surprised to learn that 74% of Britons who have never played games also fear negative effects, compared to 47% of those who've actually tried it or play games regularly. As gaming becomes ever more ubiquitous, we can expect these numbers to shift over the coming years.

The 'can games cause violence?' debate has been a hot-button topic for years, though all forms of popular media had to undergo similar scrutiny before being widely accepted. Personally, I'm convinced that videogames cannot lead to violent behaviour in and of themselves, but can possibly inspire it in people who already have underlying psychological problems (like any violent film, piece of music or literature).

But maybe I'm too close to it. What's your take, dear reader?

Add a comment10 comments
Late  Sep. 24, 2013 at 10:31

People who've never played computer games think they're responsible for violence, and people who've played them know that's nonsense.
All the poll shows is that people who are familiar with any given subject know more about it than people who have no experience of it. Well duh.

Allow me to throw in the old clichéd argument: I'm surprised all these old folk aren't aware the world was full of wars and violence before pacman came along...

(Urgh at realising I'm one of the old people according to those age bands. Damn you, YouGov!)

I'm with Jon. Violence in media might slightly influence already deranged people on what form their homicidal tendencies might manifest, but if you aren't wired to to want to go out and murder people then playing a game or watching a film ain't gonna convert you...

ChrisHyde  Sep. 24, 2013 at 10:31

These results aren't very surprising, as you say Jon.

I'm of the same opinion as you, in that I don't believe video games have more impact on a person's actions in society any more than any other entertainment medium.

I also think this opinion will shift. As the ZX Spectrum generation - like myself - move up the age brackets, I believe more acceptance of the medium will follow.

Last edited by ChrisHyde, Sep. 24, 2013 at 10:32
Quietus  Sep. 24, 2013 at 11:39

When they sort out the problems that are negatively impacting people's lives EVERY day, like alcohol, I'll get worried about games. As has already been mentioned, any medium could be labelled as leading to violence. You have but to watch the news at the moment...

DivideByZero  Sep. 24, 2013 at 11:42

It's all Marilyn Manson's fault that there is violence in the world. I saw a study that proved it. PROVED IT!

Korma  Sep. 24, 2013 at 14:37

Yes Quietus, replace video games with a whole variety of other things like "Driving a car" or "Sports" in that question and you'd get the same results.

'Can be' means everything from 0.0000000000001% to 100% so Video games can be a cause of winning the lottery if the game throws out a single set of 6 lottery numbers. Also, just saying video/computer games, broadening it to everything ever.

Pretty much anyone who said no is wrong because the weighting of the question is so imbalanced that there must be one game that has existed that can do it, so you can only answer yes.

Nonsense surveys like this don't help anything, not just regarding games. Asking ill-informed people about things and then presenting the results back to them as proper research just perpetuates the ill-informedness.

Korma  Sep. 24, 2013 at 14:47

Just saw a note from the Yougov article that's important

*All data and charts in this report refer to the responses of individuals who either ‘agreed’ or ‘disagreed’ (e.g. excluding those who responded ‘neither’ or ‘don’t know’)

So those who took a reasonable 'I don't know', or 'this question is stupid, there's no way to say one way or the other' stance were discounted. No idea what percentage did those things but that means less percentages for the other answers. If the 74/26 split was really 43/15 with 42% saying neither or don't know that's quite a different result. That would not be Most Adults.

They call it a % "of Britons with an opinion on the matter". I think a neither/don't know is a valid opinion myself.

googleberry  Sep. 24, 2013 at 16:39

In another study, most adults believe involvement in the gaming community can retard maturity, intelligence and basic common manners and civility to other human beings

Late  Sep. 24, 2013 at 16:49

Yeah, but those people are f*#&ing noobs, and I'll teabag them and their mums.

Breadster  Sep. 24, 2013 at 17:40

I've played games my whole life, many of which are violent, and I hate violence in real life. I've been in like 4 fights ever, all of which were in my teens (I'm 26 now).

I'm not saying playing games has made me less violent, but they certainly haven't made me more violent either.

I've always thought the same as you Jon - games don't make you violent, but they could influence someone who already has some sort of psychological problems, just like films/music/books could.

I remember seeing a study once that suggested that a game is actually less likely to influence you than a film. It said that because a game constantly requires your input to progress, you are constantly reminded that you are apart from it. You get more engrossed in a film because you don't have to do anything. It plays and you watch it.

Last edited by Breadster, Sep. 24, 2013 at 17:41
X10  Sep. 24, 2013 at 19:50

The problem here really is the question rather than the outcome.
Does video game violence directly impact and generate real world violence? Possibly.


Does gaming desensatise people and make the idea of violent acts more acceptable to people? You bet it bloody does.

And while googleberry was joking, that's the actual proof in the pudding.

You can't create violent content, expose people to it and say that it doesn't affect how they perceive violence, that's just dumb, and I wish studies would do more to address those issues.
Of course they won't because there's no money to do an extensive study like that, and it certainly wouldn't make mass media happy.

Ah well.

Last edited by X10, Sep. 24, 2013 at 19:51


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