A study has found that violent video games have zero long-term effects on a person’s empathy, no matter how little or how much they play.
Video games have always been considered a counterculture by press - heavily as interactive violence that poisons our mind, even though it is one of the most profitable forms of entertainment on the planet and studies have proven the exact opposite.
The battlefield of violent video game studies is a massive grey area between some scientists confirming there being a link to a lack of empathy, and others denying a correlation even exists.
This point of contention has led Dr Gregor Szycik from the Hannover Medical School in Germany, to run a study himself - publishing the findings in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
To study this, he got a group of 30 people — 15 who played violent video games for an average of four hours a day and 15 control subjects who don’t play violent video games at all - and began testing their levels of aggression & empathy.
How? Well, MRI brain scans are taken while the subjects were shown images, to encourage an empathetic response and activate certain brain regions. Following this, they all took a psychological questionnaire.
Results showed that there were no difference in levels of aggression between the gamers and non-gamers - in both the MRI and psychological questionnaires - debunking years of political opinion and biased research.
“These results surprised the researchers, as they were contrary to their initial hypothesis, and suggest that any negative effects of violent video games on perception or behavior may be short-lived,” a statement read.
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So how was the research so different to what conclusions have been reached before? In many of these previous studies, aggression & empathy tests were taken immediately after playing a violent game. This, in Dr Szycik’s eyes could influence the results “not only by desensitization but also by other factors such as increased attention towards motor actions or immediate activation of aggressive cognitions.”
That is why in this study, they waited for three hours before taking a reading - learning that a breather does really bring you back down after gaming.
Of course, these results are not going to go down well with the “video games are murder” crowd, so expect an angry response soon.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.