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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.

Kindra Pring

Staff Writer

Teacher's aid by day. Gamer by night. And by day, because I play my DS on my lunch break. Ask me about how bad my aim is.

  • Trevor

    So the APA says the study itself is inconclusive, yet they still call for the ESRB to make changes based on this inconclusive study?

  • Sebastian Mikulec
  • Vanilla Knight

    Aggression and frustration while playing, or aggression that translates into behavior in day to day activities? Decreases in “pro-social” behavior in that I spend more time online with people who share my interests in video games and less time offline with people who don’t share interests? Who determines what “aggression” means, who determines what “pro-social” constitutes?

    This is why I regard psychology as a joke half the time. If incredibly ambiguous moralist standards don’t translate into the real world as objective statistics then it makes no sense to even publish the results. Pushing for more guidelines based off more half-baked inconclusive studies is absurd. “The task force which wrote the report was created in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.” And I really hope that doesn’t mean what I think it means.

  • Ryan Juel

    welcome to the stupidity of the human race…

  • Haze

    Well of course
    APA gotta keep those research funds flowing

  • moose

    that seems to be the way things are going at the moment. just look at how high profile social justice supporters (I wont call them social justice warriors because they are not as bad as the twitter hate mob/militant feminists etc.) will use the results of a study to justify something else.

  • Bigb

    “GIEF MOAR MONEY TO US” that is what you read between the lines of their report.

  • Domhnall

    I know some people who get REALLY fucking aggressive. They start yelling at the TV, and they hit each other (not particularly hard, mind you, but actual physical blows). A WHOLE lot of swearing and cursing. I have seen some very tense situations, all because of what’s going on in the TV screen.

    Of course, they’re watching football, not playing video games. I guess we should start enforcing a ratings board for pre-season matches. And the Super Bowl? That shit’s gotta be locked down HARD.

  • Smug Life

    Great read, thanks for this article.

    It is worth noting that Mike Futter over at GameInformer got in contact with some of the scholars at APA and there is some serious dissent about this taskforce and study in particular.

  • Saber

    This is meaningless, correlation doesn’t establish causality. I could establish a correlation between anything with the proper study and bias. Just check this out for some ridiculous correlations:

  • NeoTechni

    They went to Polygon? I’m surprised they didn’t agree with the study. They’ve never had a problem with accepting biased reports with flawed reasoning before, this fits their typical narrative

  • Screech Screecher

    That is the joy of the soft “sciences” they can be what ever the hell you want them to be. Just give them enough cash or power and they will tell you what you want to hear.

  • Uranus

    Increase in aggressive behavior is valid in my opinion. Violent behavior is entirely separate. I’ve had my aggressive moments playing games. It’s fine to think that. I don’t consider aggression bad, so this doesn’t really bug me. As a man, I like aggression. I like competing, I like it when people get emotionally invested. I don’t like placating people. So you know – as long as they aren’t saying games cause violence, I’m fine with that.

  • Niwjere

    I love making sports comparisons in cases like this. Nobody’s clamoring to clamp down on big league sports despite the well-known risk of fucking RIOTS. Somehow it’s the video games that are this undying evil that simply must be thrown into the nearest volcano as soon as possible.

  • EphY

    The APA can choke on a bag of dicks. “Aggressive behaviour”, “aggressive thoughts”, and “aggressive outcomes” are NEVER defined in these sorts of studies. NEVER.