Earlier in the year we reported on a new thread of research suggesting there's more to the tired mantra of "violent video games lead to real-world violence" (you know...that's the reason for the London riots, right?) than meets the eye: That violence in video games per se doesn't promote aggression. In these studies, those who played sports and racing games - competitive games - got the most aggressive of any group of players.
Now, research from Brock University in Ontario, Canada, has backed that claim up. PhD candidate Paul Adachi has completed two studies, in fact, investigating the phenomenon, and the conclusion seems to be that how competitive the game is is a better indicator of how aggressive gamers will get. The first study measured aggression among gamers playing either Conan rated M in North America for blood, gore and intense violence, or Fuel, a racing game rated E for "comic mischief." (An aside: I love some of the terms ratings associations use for explaining themselves.) When aggression was measured after playing, both groups ranked about the same. Again: Gamers playing a game rated M for "a story of epic brutality" didn't measure any differently than those who played a game rated E for "comic mischief." To tease things out further, a second study pitted four games against each other: two competitive games (one violent, one non-violent) and two not-so-competitive games (one violent, one non-violent). Regardless of the level of violence in the game, the people who played the competitive games ranked as more aggressive following play. From Niagara Falls Review:
"I always thought it was an interesting idea and interesting to test out in a lab," [Adachi] said.
"It's a hotly debated topic, no question about that. It's pretty polarized from what I've seen so far."
In his findings, Adachi said he feels he's found a middle ground in the debate on whether or not violent games abet further violence. It's just one study, though, he said, and he wants to research further.
"There may be something happening, but it doesn't sort of seem to be the violent content."
Adachi reportedly plans to continue this research, which has been picked up for publication.