A number of academics, including Dr. Mark Coulson, professor at Middlesex University, debunked a theory reported by the American Psychological Association that linked violent video games with aggression.
Studies connecting excessive aggression to people playing violent video games have been a raging controversy for almost two decades now with no conclusive theory either confirming or dismissing the connection. The recent report published under the aegis of the American Psychological Association reiterating this link has only deepened the controversy further.
The report was a result of the review of multiple studies that were conducted between 2005 and 2013 in an effort to connect violent behavior to playing aggressive video games. A taskforce committee sent up by the APA reviewed these studies and published a report confirming the link between playing violent video games and aggressive behavior. The review of the studies illustrated a consistent relation between excessive use of violent games and increased aggressive cognitions and decreased empathy and pro-social behaviors, the report claimed
However, the report also claimed that though some studies propounded that the neurological changes and criminal behavior are connected, there seems to be no conclusive evidence of the same. The APA’s theory was although there is no conclusive evidence that violent and aggressive games like Grand Theft Auto led to criminality and that there is no one deciding factor that drives criminal or violent behavior in humans, playing aggressive video games can definitely be taken as one risk factor. The APA report exhorted game creators to enhance parental control for such games.
Many academics came out in criticism of the report claiming that the review was incomplete and the methodology used to arrive at the results was faulty. A large portion of the material taken up for the study was not reviewed at all, the academics, over 200 in number, held. While Dr. Coulson admitted that using aggressive video games had the potential for short-term negative effects, there is no evidence linking it to long-term effects in the form of violent and/or criminal behavior. Participating in a ‘Call of Duty’ game could have a pumping effect, but there is no connection between playing and the criminal urge to mug someone, Dr. Coulson opined.