Study: Games Don’t Spark Violence but Dysfunctional Families Do

A pair of new studies tend to dispel the notion that violent video games spark violent behavior.

GameCritics reports that the March issue of Criminal Justice and Behavior cites research from Texas A&M and the University of Wisconsin:

One study found that students who played shooter Medal of Honor: Allied Assault were no more aggressive afterward than another group which played the non-violent Myst III. From the research:

Although males appeared to prefer to play violent video games relative to females, there was no evidence from this study to suggest that people who prefer violent video games are more innately aggressive than those who do not…

The second project surveyed hundreds of students on issues such as domestic violence, past criminal behavior, aggression and gaming. The conclusion, from the study abstract: 

Results indicated that trait aggression, family violence, and male gender were predictive of violent crime, but exposure to violent games was not. Structural equation modeling suggested that family violence and innate aggression as predictors of violent crime were a better fit to the data than was exposure to video game violence. These results question the common belief that violent-video-game exposure causes violent acts.

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  1. 0

    well… now……………………… i can’t believe it! all this time! i thought i was gonna be a murderer because of game playing. HAHAH! about time! good work, Texas. seems the crazy southerners finally found a bit of sense. and wisconsin isn’t cheesy at all!

  2. 0
    Ebonheart ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Elalonna

    Why would they only proves them wrong.

    Personally I’m getting to the point where people blow millions of bucks on useless studies that if you went to a public high school for 30 minutes you’d go “Hot damn idiot was right” instead of blowing a couple 100,000.
    Anyways I want to set up some sort of “Research Group” thats given grants by the US Congress to research things like “Why are [insert question that has a common sense answer]?” Completely blow the grant on just bs stuff, then come back and give them the common sense answer.

    I think it would work, Congress has blown several million on stupid grants (such as and this is my favorite one: ‘Why do kids listed to rock and/or roll”) Who’s with me?

  3. 0
    Funky J ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Studies of this nature – either for or against the argument that games cause violence – are worthless.

    Hundreds of people think vampires are actually real and control the world, so does that sample size reflect any kind of truth?

    Of course not!

    These surveys and experiments need to test millions of people, not hundreds or even thousands.

  4. 0
    Overcast says:

    He could never explain any of his generalized biases like, “bipolar people use there condition as a crutch is life..” He was a real bastard and said that my sources that supported us were “radical sources” despite the fact I got it from the APA directory it’s self and failed me with a 31. The highest was a 55 but he was a jerk about everyones paper. I recently dropped out of that class because I couldn’t stand his bullying of me and the BS he kept sprouting.

    College is such a farce anymore. It used to be for higher education – now it’s all about their personal agendas and axes they want to grind.

  5. 0
    TJLK ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Karsten –

    I agree that economic standing will effect behavior. Its simple survival sometimes. Don’t have enough money for food and shelter? Maybe breaking a couple of laws will be profitable enough to provide you with that. Of course you can say that it is a problem with the people committing the crimes, and in terms of violent crimes I’ll gladly agree. But non-violent criminals that break laws for survival might very reflect a problem in society rather than the individual. I strongly believe there are other parties to blame than non-violent criminals because if you think about it crime is whatever the government decides is illegal. What if what they say is illegal really isn’t that bad or the government is being dishonest about facts that surround any particular illegal instance. I think it all can chalked up to bad design or good design that has been bastardized.

  6. 0
    janarius ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Can you e-mail me ( your paper on video games. Although, I’m not a psych prof, but I like to evaluate and constructively criticize research for and against video games. And anyone who wants to send their essay, please do.

    Now on to the study:
    The first study is certifiable good because it is a replication of previous studies, especially MoH vs. Myst III in which the previous study used Doom vs. Myst (Anderson & Dill, 2000).

    The second study, I’m more skeptical about how it measured violent crime and family violence. Mainly they’re self-report, so participants can potentially lie about their criminal behaviour or family violence. Although, it’s a given in any research, but my main concern is whether beliefs of violent video games may impact participants’ report of criminal behaviour or family violence.

  7. 0
    Kira says:

    Finally, the media and politicians will leave forever more cease to use video games as a scapegoat! Also, if some diety is granting miracles, I’d love another chance at having two arms…

  8. 0
    Aliasalpha says:

    People have always been resistant to science, there’s a long history of it which can be proven, rather ironically, by the science of statistics. Many people fear what they don’t understand and of those, few make the effort to try and understand.

    Especially in the cases where there was no prior history of direct violence, people usually look for a single causal factor which occured just before the incident and since little johnny never shot up his school with an AK74 before he got a wii, it must be the fault of the wii…

    Gotta hate teachers that have some asinine rule about grading. I heard of one that refused to give students As. Another that only gave one A two B’s, and everyone else got Cs or lower.

    I had something similar last year in an assignment for project management, we had to make a gantt chart and the question specifically said “Do not include durations or dependencies” and then I got marked down for not including them. I asked for a review, the marker agreed that it was an error and then returned the assignment with an identical mark. I was going to complain but frankly I didn’t give a fuck by then.

  9. 0
    Coravin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Uhh, yeah, that first question was just griping.

    I KNOW why, more or less. Cognitive dissonance has to be overcome in order to keep us functional; and it’s easier to keep doing what we already are doing, and believe that which let us do so, than to change our actions and beliefs to suit reality.

    What I really want to know is why people haven’t bothered learning from history when its results are all displayed so prominently and the lessons not that much harder to unearth. Hopefully this type of report, one founded in scientific method, will continue to be joined by others until the evidence on our behalf becomes so overwhelming it can’t be ignored.

    Not that this would prevent people from TRYING to ignore the science. But then it wouldn’t matter as much that so many politicians would rather waste money tilting at windmills than spend the vast quantities of money and effort it would take to actually fix the real issues as displayed so prominently in this report (and millions of others on social issues). Because then their fallacies would be obvious (and precedent againt them strong enough) to curtail a lot of the money wasted by anti-videogamers.

  10. 0
    Coravin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is great to see, and accolades for the people who actually utilize scientific method, thus making our case easier–since none of our foes have even attempted real science in support of their views.

    Unfortunately, that very fact is a huge part of the problem. The anti-gamers have no evidence, nothing more than a desire to create something to blame for incomprehensible evils and something to throw money at so constituents feel their children are being kept safe even though the kids don’t have good schools, any health care, or protection from real-world violence. So they ignore our arguments because they don’t CARE what reality says, this is what they believe and so it must be true.

    Why are human minds designed to accept only evidence cementing our preconceptions and ignore all else, even if our beliefs are thoroughly and blatantly wrong?

    Sort of on-topic, just wondering if anybody’s read this guy’s experience yet?

  11. 0
    Gameboy says:

    @ StealthKnight

    Holy crap! That’s horrible. You should of complained to the dean or someone.

    Gotta hate teachers that have some asinine rule about grading. I heard of one that refused to give students As. Another that only gave one A two B’s, and everyone else got Cs or lower. I’ve always felt that if none or few of the students can earn an A in your class, you just fail as a teacher.

    I think you’ll find that most of the anti-game crowd is like that. You can give them a plenty of information and they ignore it. I’ve experienced it a few times.

  12. 0
    StealthKnight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I tried to write a report about this in my abnormal psychology course. I used a case that favored violent video game and a case that didn’t since I had to keep the report no longer then seven pages in APA format. My teacher was unfortunately was of those people who was dead set on the idea that violent video games make violent people despite the fact that he couldn’t explain himself.

    He could never explain any of his generalized biases like, “bipolar people use there condition as a crutch is life..” He was a real bastard and said that my sources that supported us were “radical sources” despite the fact I got it from the APA directory it’s self and failed me with a 31. The highest was a 55 but he was a jerk about everyones paper. I recently dropped out of that class because I couldn’t stand his bullying of me and the BS he kept sprouting.

  13. 0
    Elalonna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Nobody could have ever guessed such a thing

    On a more serious note, if people really have such a problem with violent gaming, why not ask the industry to make more games like portal, where you can never actually shoot at anything, but it’s still awesome.

    Oh wait. Antigamers dont pay attention to games like that. It would tear their arguments apart. Because to them, the only games in existence are pong, pacman, Mario, Custer’s Revenge, GTA, Bully, and Manhunt.

  14. 0
    axia777 says:

    Hillary won’t pay attention because she can’t, it is an election year. She will shovel as much BS as the rest of them. Tis the season for shoveling BS. :p

  15. 0
    Jack Thompson is a douchbag says:

    People say that out frontal brain lobes are fried because of videogames. It is like saying that we are handicapped. Now there is proof that we arent. Someone please show this to Hillary Clinton! Wait I dont think we really have to. Shes already in last place in the campain. She has 30% and Obama and John Mcain have like 60% or 70%. Or even more!

  16. 0
    Karsten ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes, this is indeed good news. However, as others have said, I don’t think that people will let think into their heads – yet. Someday, maybe, but not yet.

    I understand that it isn’t PC (as in politically correct) to say that most criminals are black. And so I won’t. I would just point out that most criminals are poor, and both white people and black people who are poor have a higher statistically change of turning into criminals because of their poor backgrounds. Also, because of their poor backgrounds, many families simply set their children down and let them watch tv or play whatever games they want without adult supervision at all. This does not happen to the same extent in the middle class families or in the upper class families (well, in some upper class families it does…).

    And lets not forgot that many a bar brawl has started by somone drinking way too much…

  17. 0
    JDC says:

    The kid who used to whoop on me in grade 6 was from an abusive family and he didn’t have a single video game console. Anti Game Critics will try and convince me those memories were put there by the video game company and this child was playing a very early version of “Bully”. I NOW have a study that proves otherwise.. thank you science!

  18. 0
    Blu300 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Actually, this is clearly a case of the video game companies bribing the scientists to say that games don’t cause violence.
    Everyone knows that just standing near a copy of Mario 64 turns you into a raving psychopath.
    Ok, by everyone, you know who I mean.

  19. 0
    TJLK ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    When I say taken into account I mean fix the public school system and leave it at that. The government shouldn’t do much to enter the home lives of people but they can reformat their education system. It needs it and not only because it is the part of the cause to violence in schools but it is also on the decline in terms of the education value. Which leads me to this question. Do you think a government provided education is best?

  20. 0
    beacon80 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The fact is, we’re not any different. We praise studies that support out point of view and tear apart any that oppose us.

    Something interesting to note is that study suggest that, far from a causal relationship, there’s not even a real correlation between aggressive behavior and violent video games.

  21. 0
    jab49 says:


    That’s a major premise in brave new world, that families and parents are immoral and cause social instability. Also monogomy, I wholeheartedly agree

  22. 0
    Overcast says:

    Hey – but they told us in the 70’s that it was Pen and Paper D&D and TV that caused violence.

    In the 50’s and 60’s is was music and pot.

    Before that – it was TV in general and radio. And prior to that – well, it was a necessary part of just staying alive.

    Let’s find something else to blame for everything. Isn’t it so fun?

    Now it’s going to be “the family” that causes violence. And they should be outlawed.

  23. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Interesting… one more pro-games study from A&M… first the meta-review, now actual research. I do believe that somebody in A&M caught on to the bad research being done in connection to games and is fighting back with properly done research. This may also be a follow-up to the meta-review; i. e. they saw that much of the research was conflicting, and decided to do their own research. What they found was obvious, but still, well done.

  24. 0
    Gameboy says:

    @ mogbert

    Exactly. I can’t tell you why I do certain things. The best I can say is that because of the situation I decided to do X, but I can’t tell you why I thought that was the proper course of action. Also, video games are little more than fantasy. Beating an orc with my great sword isn’t really an option in everyday life and I know that. And I don’t usually carry an AK-47 with me.

    The most a game influences me, is in my strategy for other games. “Take out the big threat first and try to get a few of his minions in the cross-fire, otherwise I’m gonna get killed.” I don’t go to the store and think, “Clothesline the old lady, she’s a threat to my potato chips, then kill the nerd with a head-shot as he’s a threat to my batteries…”

    As far as CC:FF7 goes, I bought a PSP mostly for it and The Lion War. Is it bad that my name is Gameboy and I’m excited about a PSP title?

  25. 0
    TBoneTony ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    REAL RESEARCH done within the realms of REAL PEOPLE within their REAL ENVIRONMENT!!!!

    People who prefer to play violent videogames are no more aggressive then those who prefer to play non violent games…


    Also they combated other issues like Family Violence and also past criminal behavior. ALL OF THESE ARE STRONGER SOCIETY LINKS TO REAL VIOLENCE more than just the violence in videogames.

    Reality is that no one can blame Videogames for the actions of an individual in real life.

  26. 0
    Austin Lewis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Indeed, its more PC to say it was the game than the family, because many criminals are
    1. from Single parent families (a lot of single-parent families inthe USA)
    2. Black (1 out of every 4 black males will be imprisoned in their lifetime, and 1 out of every 8 are in prison at the moment [stats from recent AJCS Conference])
    3. Poor (if you’re poor, you either A. work one job and barely provide or B. work 2 jobs and provide but never interact with your children, so B is only a little bit better than A because of the positive role-model it provides)

    However, instead of pointing these things out, and suggesting them as problems that could be fixed by legislation or helping these people get a fucking education (although most African-American Urban Communities tend to make outcasts out of anyone who does well intellectually, so that wouldn’t help any more than a fourth of the population of the area), its easier to just attempt to legislate something that isn’t even part of the problem.

  27. 0
    Austin Lewis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    My god.

    Research that backs up what any sociologist or psychologist will tell you?

    Who saw this coming. HAHAHA!

    Seriously, this is hilarious and pretty fucking awesome research.

  28. 0
    mogbert ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The truth is that how each person acts is such a complex formula, no one can really predict what they will choose to do from one moment to the next. After someone has done something, whether it was shoot a person or help a stranger change a tire, they can’t go back and really say what caused them to do it. Anyone who tries to simplify what made someone the way they are now down to one influence is not dealing from a full deck.

    @ Gameboy, I don’t have a PSP. I’ll have to console myself watching Advent Children over and over… :-(
    (and playing SSBB!)

    The Mog in my name is from FF, mixed with Dogbert. Unfortunately, I’m one of about 200 people who made this same connection, so I rarely get my first choice of names. Horay for GP and our ability to get names without competition!

  29. 0
    NovaBlack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    suprise suprise… family life has more effect than violent games.. wow.. i wish somebody paid me to do a study into that!

    coulda saved them alot of time!

    great news.

  30. 0
    Gameboy says:

    Wasn’t there another study like this that said the same thing? I read this and got this feeling of deja vu. Well, part of that is the fact that this is COMMON SENSE, but I still think there was another such study.

    Sadly, I think there are other factors that also encourage violence. Family background, race, region, education (or lack thereof), drugs, and probably a dozen other such factors that I’m missing. Forgive me, I just woke up.

    @ mogbert

    First of all. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 comes out today! YAY!!
    Sorry, but the “mog” part of your name makes me think FF.

    Second, I hate to say it, but you are correct, sir. None of those so called family values groups or video game critics will give two shits about this report. They’ll dismiss it as one “faulty” report. They have a “bajillion really, really extra super duper accurate reports that show that this is no more than video game propaganda.” Sad, isn’t it?

  31. 0
    Azhrarn, Death-of-Faxmachines says:

    Mogbert has the right of it i’m afraid.
    While the study is ofcourse a good thing and a potentially useful tool for those defending video games, it will not be cited or recognised by those who are opposed to those games.
    Facts indeed matter little, they “know” they are in the right and anything to the contrary must be a falsehood or of questionable quality because of that.

    But that said, i’m glad a few independent studies atleast provide some evidence in favor of gaming. 😀

  32. 0
    Overcast says:

    Oh that can’t be right – ol’ JT and other fanatics say violence is due to video games…..

    Well – since when did facts matter to the Media or Government anyway?

  33. 0
    C.Goodno says:

    Insert “no duh” here. The sad thing is that these studies are necessary in order to once again tell the public that the environment in which a child is raised, specifically his family and friends, is the most important factor in determining his future, from religious beliefs to his tendency to be violent.

  34. 0
    Creature No 9 says:

    Well this study is obviously just another component of Take 2’s conspiracy to turn our children into porn loving murderers programmed to destroy Jack Thompson. Anyone who says otherwise is a drooling idiot and needs more Jesus (the jewish one, not the mexican one) in their life.

  35. 0
    Twin-Skies ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    “Please, people don’t let go of what they “know” just because a study says it’s true. I mean, back cefore video games someone reading this study would just nod, say it goes with out sayin’ or “the apple don’t fall far from the tree.””

    Grudgingly, I have to agree.

  36. 0
    mogbert ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You make it sound like it’s an open and shut case now that they’ve pointed this out. Do any of you actually think anyone will change their mind based on this report? Please, people don’t let go of what they “know” just because a study says it’s true. I mean, back cefore video games someone reading this study would just nod, say it goes with out sayin’ or “the apple don’t fall far from the tree.”

    It’s much more PC now-a-days to blame vidja-games rather then how someone was raised. After all, people like to think it “doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do anything with your life!” However, somehow that free will flies right out the window if you’ve played GTA. Then you are a souless killing machine with no will of your own, only the voice of Zelnick whispering in your ears.

  37. 0
    x(wai)x says:

    Although males appeared to prefer to play violent video games relative to females, there was no evidence from this study to suggest that people who prefer violent video games are more innately aggressive than those who do not…

    You know why? Because you had Myst as the non-violent game! That game @#%$ing pissed me off!!!!!!! 😛

    Joking aside, though, it’s good to see more studies like this coming to light. 😀

  38. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Results indicated that … and male gender were predictive of violent crime…”

    Hey, what’s wrong? Afraid to segregate by race, religion (or lack thereof), rich vs poor, political differences, sexuality, etc, etc, etc?

    Whatsamatta? Afraid some “Civil Rights” group is going to sue?

    NW2K Software

  39. 0
    Cafalump says:

    they’ve taken their time but I am so happy now that it’s been proved! Now they can not blame games such as GTA for car theft or Manhunt for violent murders.

  40. 0
    jarrod ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    first comment? finally people may have figured it out, you cannot blame one single thing (video games) to be the cause of violent behaving. always numerous factors are involved.

  41. 0
    Wyvern says:

    And yet, will anyone pay any attention to this? No. Will Thompsons rantings and discredited studies have attention lavished on them? Yes. Will this change anything? Shit no.

  42. 0
    Kajex ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “… Well Xandir… I think I can speak for both your mother and I when I say…


  43. 0
    TJLK ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    I like studies that make it difficult for individuals to ignore the obvious solutions. I mean how many of the people here really needed to see this study before they were convinced that a dysfunctional family life generally can produce a high risk environment for children now and in the future.

    Video games are art to the developers and entertainment to the consumers. But really when you think about it one of the main purposes of art is entertainment to some degree so it is probably art to many consumers and they just don’t realize it. Either way its obviously protected by the first amendment in terms of creation and consumption. Anti-game buffs will never take that fact into account and they are always willing to distort the truth to enforce some kind of moral value they perceive as superior. These people do not wish to live in a free society. They wish to belong to a society based on theology and ideology where everyone is forced to do what they believe is correct.

    Parents, teachers, school environment, home environment, peers, and any other authority figures I forgot will all have a huge impact on a child’s development. If a kid goes to school and is continuously given a hard time from peers, teachers and authority figures in a school environment then obviously they are going to grow to hate school and the people they are around. Is it there fault? Not until they inflict harm on anyone but the point remains that that kind of experience has to be held accountable before any progress is made.

  44. 0
    Simon Roberts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Interestingly enough, Wisconsin is still in the NCAA Div. I men’s basketball tourney, but Texas A&M was knocked out by UCLA. I was going to draw a connection between nerd concentration and sport performance, but that didn’t work out too well last time. Mostly I’m just annoyed that Georgetown didn’t make the final four — I think that’s more likely to aggravate me to violence than videogaming is. (Although if the lag in online Brawl doesn’t go away soon…)

  45. 0
    Baruch ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, it’s amazing what they’ll waste money researching. But at least we have one more study to throw at people who think games cause violence.

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