Long have gamers had to hear about the purported link between video games and violence, and one of the organizations that has long been used as a source supporting that argument is the American Psychological Association. The APA has always stood by the claim that playing video games is correlated with an increase in aggressive tendencies, and recently they reaffirmed that claim. The 49-page report states that a review of studies regarding video games, increases in aggressive behavior, and decreases in prosocial behavior, it was determined there is a definite link between the three. However, it also clarified there isn’t enough evidence to make the claim that video games cause violent or criminal behavior.
In response to this conclusion, the APA submitted a call to the industry, in particular the ESRB, to include more comprehensive descriptions and ratings of violence in games. This replaced a resolution made in 2005. The report also says researchers should now direct their efforts towards studying other possible factors that could contribute to the aggression increase, and says the big picture is far more complex than the news usually presents. This is not the APA’s only stance on video games, as they have also said gaming has a lot of benefits to health and social life, according to a 2013 review. The task force which wrote the report was created in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
The Entertainment Software Association spoke to Polygon about the report, disavowing the claim and pointing out previous Supreme Court rulings that deemed there was no link: “Considering the APA’s long-standing bias against and attacks on video games, this slanted report is not surprising. Numerous medical professionals, researchers, and courts all debunk the fundamental thesis of their argument.”
The board where this review originated has faced some scrutiny from other academics in the field due to their potential biases and a supposed “stacking” of the task force. Gamers have become increasingly aggitated this year with the academic side of video games, expressing harsh criticism earlier this year after a public study on video games, skill, and sexist behavior was published. The major academic organization DiGRA has also faced significant critique for their methods and accused bias.