A new study unveiled at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Dublin finds no basis to a systematic link between video gaming and violent behaviour. In fact, the study lead by doctoral Middlesex University psychology student Jane Barnett, finds violent gaming actually leaves most players relaxed.
What happens with regular gamers who indulge in games with violent tendencies, such as the study’s World of Warcraft, is a kind of catharsis. This means that players release negative and violent energy within the game instead of in the real world, rather than harbouring it indefinitely.
"There were actually higher levels of relaxation before and after playing the game as opposed to experiencing anger but this did very much depend on personality type,” said Barnett in a news release. Read More...
The research project studied 292 male and female online gamers as they played massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft. With a gamer sample ranging from 12 to 83 years of age, the study hopes to provide a well rounded picture of the impact violent games can have on individuals.
Subjects in the study were asked to complete a questionnaire on anger, aggression and personality and then played the game for two hours. After this time they were they were asked to complete the test again.
While the overall perception was that players were left relaxed and calm prior and following a WoW session, Barnett does point out differences between sex and age groups. The nature of these variations is yet to be made public.
A number of studies have linked video game violence and real world violence in recent years. However, there are also several reports arguing the opposite. While consensus on the issue remains to be reached, Barnett hopes her research will help identify those who do experience an anger response.
"This will help us to develop a emotion [sic] and gaming questionnaire to help distinguish the type of gamer who is likely to transfer their online aggression into everyday life," Barnett said.