Video Games Can Cause Violence: Even non-violent games

While writing my individual boss battle paper on video games and violence, I came across a very interesting finding, purported by Przybylski.  After conducting a study, he concluded that video games CAN and DO lead to short term aggression.  However, this increase in aggressive activity is completely independent of the violent nature of the game.  Rather, gamers get aggressive and agitated after playing a game when the controls of that game are very challenging and/or the game is very hard to beat.

Initially, I was very resistant to the idea.  I thought that violent video games would have SOME kind of statistically significant correlation to an increase in aggression.  However, after thinking about it a little more, I was able to connect some of the dots.  Violent video games tend to have complex controls.  Often times, the gamer must expertly maneuver 2 joy sticks, 4 core buttons, and 4 shoulder buttons.  If you are an inexperienced gamer, this is bound to get incredibly frustrating incredibly fast.  However, games like FIFA and Madden also have very complicated controls; in fact, many times these games have even more complex controls then do shooters.

After reading through this study I examined my roommates playing FIFA and Madden against one another.  What I found definitely supported Przybylski’s argument that complex controls and a lack of competence at playing a game cause frustration, and ultimately, aggression.  When either of my roommates missed a shot or accidentally passed it to the other team in FIFA, they would let out a loud scream, and usually punch something or throw something.  I found this to be very interesting because neither of them are violent kids and they weren’t even playing a violent game!

This example really illustrates how violent video games are no more likely to cause aggression then non-violent games would.  Rather, when gamers are incredibly engaged in a game, really want to win, and “mess up,” they get frustrated, and often times, become much more aggressive then they normally would be, at least for a short amount of time during the game or following the game.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. caramol
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 15:02:02

    I can totally relate to this. A couple of years ago, my brother and I got really into Madden ’06 (I think that was the one). But we spent a whole summer burning through multiple franchises which each consist of 20 whole seasons. We got so involved in every aspect of the game that when it finally came down to the Super Bowl, it would always be his team versus my own since we were both in different conferences. We were so invested in these games that if either one of us lost, we would take our remote and throw it around cussing out minds out….. We’ve got the holes in the walls to prove it!


  2. Doug Sharp
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 23:08:08

    Great post! I think that what might be going on here is that competition causes aggressive behavior. I get just as mad when I lose in Broomball as when I lose a round in Halo online. However, it is possible that the way aggression is expressed after playing violent games is potentially more violent than the aggression expressed after playing non-violent games (Madden, etc.).


  3. megargil
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 17:58:34

    This sounds like something I can certainly relate to. Growing up when my brother was playing a game and something didn’t go his way, he would get extremely agitated and aggressive. I would always scream at him about how he needed to clam down and that it was just a game (it probably only irritated him more)! Looking back on it, and after thinking about the explanation by Przybylski, I can see that he might have been aggressive because the difficulty level of the game made it too difficult for him. Its like the optimal level of difficulty was imbalanced which became frustrating.


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