A lot of us who’ve grown up with games have a knee-jerk reaction when anyone suggests violent games could increase aggression — no, of course they can’t, right? And it’s no wonder people get defensive about the subject. After all, it seems like every time a horrific act of mass violence occurs, the media digs through the perpetrator’s history to find out if they’ve ever picked up Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto with the assumption that those two things directly relate. Understandably, that can make other players a little sensitive.
But is that knee-jerk response any more accurate? Researchers look at the question of violent games and aggression pretty often, and the answer isn’t as clear-cut as we might like. In the latest episode of SciShow Psych, Hank Green runs down the current state of research on the subject to share what we know, what we don’t know, and just how complicated the answer can be.
TL;DR? It depends on the game, the player, and the circumstances, and we still have a lot to learn.