Do video games make adults violent? The jury's out, says psychologist

Current framework a flop: former OFLC director

The jury is still out on whether adults are just as influenced by video game violence as juveniles, according to a Macquarie University psychologist.

Dr Wayne Warburton, who earlier this week told the House of Representatives that violent media can imbed aggression into the subconscious, said the “evidence is mixed” as to how violence in media can influence adults, or more specifically, whether juveniles would adopt aggression-related scripts more readily than adults through prolonged exposure to violent video games.

Speaking on behalf of the Australian Council for Children and Media (ACCM), Warburton told parliament that regular exposure to violent media such as television, film and video games can cause people to overreact to normal situations.

“Given the research evidence it is reasonable to assume that with a high exposure to violent media people will tend to incorporate a growing number of aggression-related concepts and scripts for behaviour in their brain’s neural network,” he said.

“The number of triggers for these concepts and scripts will increase and become more generalised, so that in some cases something as simple as a minor insult could trigger a media learned aggressive response.”

The average age of video game players is 30, according to the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia.

Warburton comments follow a Federal Government call for public submissions to a discussion paper on the introduction of an R18+ classification, which was completed last week.

The ACCM opposes the introduction of the higher classification, which would prevent games which exceed the M15+ rating from being banned by the Office of Film Literature and Classification (OFLC).

Former OFLC deputy director, Paul J Hunt, said in his submission to the discussion paper that “community standards” are not represented by the current regime.

“I was forced to refuse classification… not because I thought that the game depicted, expressed or otherwise dealt with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that it would offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults, it was simply because the game was not OK for kids,” Hunt said. “There were a few games, just like films and publications, that were too offensive, and I was comfortable to ban those games – just as I was comfortable banning films and publications. Not being able to restrict computer games to adults was an impediment to my ability to reflect Australian community standards.”

Tags Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC)R18games

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6 Comments

Max T

1

Yet another out-of-touch academic with no clue.

I'm in my 50s, have been gaming for over 20 years, and have NEVER felt the need to replicate the things I do in games, in real life. The games I play are mostly driving sims and first/third-person shooters.

I DEMAND an R18+ rating as soon as possible, and am sick to death of this old 'games beget violence' chestnut being constantly hauled out as an argument against it. This is, was, and always will be nothing but a furphy.

John Wishart

2

I am 62 and am once again enjoying WW2 first person shooters after a break of a few years. Like the war they depict, they are naturally violent, but without this element there would be no game, no tension, no thrills. In real life I have never instigated or joined in any real-life violence (apart from sport), and even my two-month foray into Grand Theft Auto failed to trigger any anti-social
behaviour. I believe a very small percentage of young gamers do ape some agressive behaviour they have seen in games, but when I was a lad, the same type of fool was mimicking moves they learned from the movies. I too demand an R18+ rating now.

Dane

3

Similar to the above posters, I've been playing video games since before I could remember, although I'm only in my early twenties. I've played plenty of these "obscene" games these anti-R18 people claim increase violence, yet I'm one of the most calm humans in existence.

If anyone is influenced by violent media, the problem is psychological. There are plenty of moral panics in history, a lot coinciding with new mediums of entertainment and interaction.

If this media affects people, it's a person problem that should be addressed, as they'll be affected regardless.

Bruce

4

Can we please ban footy from the tellie. That is way to violent

john

5

John Wis(e)hart wrote (not very wise it would seem)
"I am 62 and am(correction>i'm) once again enjoying WW2 first person shooters"

Hey Mr wiseheart do you also like the US led invasions on different countries?

Do you also like the fact that American Armies have bases in over 700 places all over the world?

Yes you first for blood & bombs and violence & the closest thing you can get to it is a violent video game! , this is why these games will never ever change people for the better they just continue to influence our youth to be aggresive.

Matt

6

"john" (Who considers himself not worthy enough to use a capital letter for his name) wrote "Yes you first for blood & bombs and violence and the closest thing you can get to it is a video game!, this... (A couple of errors here "john" now, "first" of all, I believe a master of the language such as you would know better than to use "thirst" rather than first in your "argument," in addition to this, you also seem to have concluded this sentence with an exclamation mark, but then follow it up with a comma. I was shocked to find that someone who clearly has such a strong grasp of the English language was unable to recognize that your next sentence should have commenced with a capital letter, something that I was taught in primary school.

Secondly, your logic is terribly flawed, as you seem to assert that Mr. Wisheart supports American war policies, despite him saying nothing to support your claim. You then continue to assume that Mr. Wisheart is pro-war on a whole, however there is no implications of this anywhere throughout his comment, which it seems you have neglected to read more than the first sentence.

When I recieved a primary school education, I was taught to READ before I could write, perhaps this is a concept you have yet to grasp.

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