Violent video games’ impact on societal violence seems to be small, expert says

TRENTON – How much influence video games have on people committing violent acts remains questionable. However, video game industry officials say parents are mindful of keeping teen children from playing “mature” video games. 

That was the assessment from various guests who testified before the Assembly Women and Children’s Committee on Thursday. The committee passed a resolution, AJR 106, marking June Entertainment Ratings and Labeling Awareness month.”

Patricia Vance, president of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, said at the committee hearing that some 51 percent of parents do not allow their kids under age 14 to play games that are mature. 

In 2012, Vance said the board rated 1,218 games. Of those, 45 percent of them were appropriate for everyone, 24 percent were appropriate for teens and 9 percent were considered mature.

Dr. Patrick Markey, a research psychologist from Villanova University, said anecdotally, those who play violent video games tend to self-report higher levels of aggression. But he added that the violent video games may not necessarily have caused them to become aggressive. 

“It could be that people who are aggressive are driven to violent video games,” he said. 

A study from 2000 also found those who play violent video games tended to report higher levels of “hostility.”

Studying a person playing violent video games over several years shows there “appears to be a link between violent video games and aggression.”

However, the influence is so miniscule that it’s not likely that the games alone would cause  real-world violence, he said. 

“The longitudinal effect appears to be fairly small,” he said. “No data suggests violent video games are linked to actual social changes in violence.

Violent video games’ impact on societal violence seems to be small, expert says