A recent study (dated Dec. 12) from researchers at the Ohio State University (link), equates prolonged exposure to violent games with an addiction to smoking tobacco. Research conducted at the Université Pierre-Mendès-France, and carried out by analysts at Ohio State University and the University of Hohenheim, comes to the conclusion that prolonged exposure to videogames increases aggression or aggressive behavior in players and causes them to view the world in a more violent light.
Held over three days, the research had 70 undergraduate students play 20 minutes worth of violent games like Call of Duty 4 and Condemned 2 or passive titles like DiRT 2 and Pure.
After playing the games, participants were asked to read the beginning of a story, and then come up with an ending using 20 possible actions the protagonist could take. According to the results, violent game players used a "more aggressive solution" when compared to the passive players.
Next participants were told by researchers that there was another participant in another room that they had to compete with them in a visual cue contest. The first one to finish could send the loser a "noise blast" through their headphones. Violent game players leaned towards sending the loser a louder and more prolonged sound, while passive players were kinder. The whole contest angle was not real, so no one was actually blasted with any sound, according to researchers.
Researchers concluded that those "people who played a violent video game for three consecutive days showed increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations each day they played" while "those who played non-violent games showed no meaningful changes in aggression or hostile expectations over that period."
Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University was co-author of the study.
"It’s important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games," Bushman said. "Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won’t cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression."
Previous studies by Bushman and Ohio State include "Video Games Can Teach How to Shoot Guns More Accurately and Aim for the Head," "Winning Makes People More Aggressive Toward The Defeated," "Kinder, Gentler Video Games May Actually Be Good For Players," and "Does Video Game Violence Harm Teens? New Study Weighs The Evidence."