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.
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?