Researchers questioning the link between violent computer games and aggressiveness

April 2, 2012

There is a long-lasting and at times intense debate about the possible link between violent computer games and aggressiveness. A group of researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, are now questioning the entire basis of the discussion. In a recently published article, they present a new study showing that, more than anything, a good ability to cooperate is a prerequisite for success in the violent gaming environment.

One camp in the debate believes that not only learn to cooperate but also to understand complex contexts, how skills can be improved, and cause and effect relationships. The opposing camp, on the other hand, is convinced that the games may foster violent and outside the gaming environment.

Complex gaming situations

The study, authored by Ulrika Bennerstedt, Jonas Ivarsson and Jonas Linderoth and titled How gamers manage : Situating skills in collaborative computer games, is presented in International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning.

The Gothenburg-based research group spent hundreds of hours playing online games and observing other gamers, including on video recordings. They focused on complex games with portrayals of violence and aggressive action where the participants have to fight with and against each other. 'The situations gamers encounter in these games call for sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration. We analysed what characteristics and knowledge the gamers need to have in order to be successful,' says Jonas Ivarsson, Docent (Reader) at the Department of Education, Communication and Learning.

Strategy and timing

It turns out that a successful gamer is strategic and technically knowledgeable, and has good timing. Inconsiderate gamers, as well as those who act aggressively or emotionally, generally do not do well.

'The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the notion of transfer, which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation can be used in an entirely different context. The whole idea of transfer has been central in education research for a very long time. The question of how a learning situation should be designed in order for learners to be able to use the learned material in real life is very difficult, and has no clear answers,' says Ivarsson.

'In a nutshell, we're questioning the whole gaming and violence debate, since it's not based on a real problem but rather on some hypothetical reasoning,' he says.

Explore further: Violent games emotionally desensitizing

Related Stories

Violent games emotionally desensitizing

October 12, 2011

After excessively violent events, shoot 'em up games regularly come under scrutiny. In Norway, several first-person shooter games actually disappeared from the market for a while after the killings. Does intense fighting ...

Recommended for you

Elderly may face increased dementia risk after a disaster

October 24, 2016

Elderly people who were uprooted from damaged or destroyed homes and who lost touch with their neighbors after the 2011 tsunami in Japan were more likely to experience increased symptoms of dementia than those who were able ...

Research examines role of early-life stress in adult illness

October 24, 2016

Scientists have long known that chronic exposure to psychosocial stress early in life can lead to an increased vulnerability later in life to diseases linked to immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, including arthritis, ...

Plan ahead for successful aging, researcher says

October 20, 2016

For many people, the prospect of aging is scary and uncomfortable, but Florida State University Assistant Professor Dawn Carr says that research reveals a few tips that can improve our chances of a long, healthy life.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.