The moral panic around video games has caught on in a way that previous panics fueled by entertainment such as rock music and television have not. But the evidence is not there.
Media reports that the perpetrators of mass shootings since the mid-1990s were avid gamers, coupled with a flurry of studies beginning in the early 2000s, fueled concerns that violent games the most aggressive people. These reports found that participants “punished” opponents for longer, gave taste testers larger doses of hot sauce, and were more likely to guess aggressive words like “explode” in a word-completion task after play violent games But since then, other researchers have questioned how effective these studies really were at measuring violent behavior.
A 2020 meta-analysis in Royal Society Open Science, which re-examined 28 studies from previous years, found no evidence of a long-term link between aggressive video games and youth aggression. Lower-quality studies that did not use standardized or well-validated measures, he found, were more likely to exaggerate the effects of games on player aggression, while higher-quality studies tended to find negligible effects.
The same pattern has been repeated for studies linking video games to poor mental health, which tend to report smaller effects once they use objective data on game duration (as the OII study did) in rather than relying on participants’ subjective self-report, he says. Peter Etchells, professor of psychology and science communication at the University of Bath Spa, who believes that the last 20 to 30 years of studies on games have not had a coherent idea of what they were trying to measure or how to measure it.
“New studies like this can help draw a line under that whole, ‘Are video games good or bad for us?’ line, because it is and always has been the wrong question to ask,” he says. “It’s like asking : ‘Is food bad for our waistlines?’ It’s a stupid question.”
“My hope is that we can improve by not thinking about it in terms of ‘Are they video games, are video games bad?’ but thinking about that gray area in between,” he adds. “Because that’s where all the interesting stuff is.”
Przybylski was among a group of academics who wrote to the WHO in 2016 arguing against the “premature” inclusion of gambling disorder in its ICD guidelines, citing the low quality of the research base and the fact that scholars had not reached a consensus. . Six years later, not much has changed, and researchers are still divided on how much being addicted to games might differ from addiction to substances or gambling, for example.
An interesting next step would be to focus on any participants who demonstrate problematic behavior in the OII study to see how they can be coached or supported, says Tony van Rooij, a senior researcher at the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands who focuses on games, betting, and digital balance. Another area worth studying, he says, is the predatory business models used by game makers to exert pressure on player behavior, including encouraging them to make microtransactions to skip frustrating levels, play fixed times or log in daily to avoid missing them. in something