Two new studies suggest that violent video games may not actually make players more aggressive, as long as they play cooperatively with other people. Photo: ostill/shutterstock.com
According to new research, violent video games don't always make players more aggressive: it all depends on your playing style.
Video games -- especially violent ones -- are constantly under scrutiny from parents concerned about negative effects. Now new research suggests that, counter to prior research, violent video games may not actually make players more aggressive, as long as they play cooperatively with other people.
In two studies announced Tuesday, researchers found that college students who teamed up to play violent video games later showed more cooperative behavior and were less aggressive than students who played the games competitively.
"Clearly, research has established there are links between playing violent video games and aggression, but that's an incomplete picture," said David Ewoldsen, co-author of the studies and professor of communication at Ohio State University in the US. "Most of the studies finding links between violent games and aggression were done with people playing alone," he adds. "The social aspect of today's video games can change things quite a bit."
One study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, involved 119 college students who were placed into four groups to play the game Halo II with a partner -- with two groups playing competitively (with the goal to either kill their opponent more times than they were killed or get further in the game than their opponent), while one group played with a partner to defeat computer-controlled enemies. The fourth group, the control group, just played the game.
The second study, published in the journal Communication Research, involved 80 Ohio State students who, when they came to the lab for the experiment, were paired with an experimenter disguised as a fellow study participant. Then the pair played the first-person-shooter video game Unreal Tournament III together -- either as teammates or as rivals. As in the first study, players who cooperated in playing the video game later showed more cooperation than those who competed against each other.
"The point is that the way you act in the real world very quickly overrides anything that is going on in the video games," says Ewoldsen. "Video games aren't controlling who we are."
In a separate study released this year, playing a video game that involves shooting enemies on a battlefield was found to help some adults who were born with a rare eye disorder improve their vision later in life.