The eternal debate rages on. Or does it? After the scientific equivalent of an extremely protracted “Yuh-huh!” “Nuh-uh!” argument, Australia's Federal Government has reviewed all available material involving videogames and violence, and good old Oz echoed what all reasonable gamers would pretty much peg as “Duh”-worthy: there's no conclusive evidence that games make people any more aggressive than other media.
“The review found that evidence about the effect of violent computer games on the aggression displayed by those who play them is inconclusive," Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor said (via GameSpot). "From time to time people claim that there is a strong link between violent crime or aggressive behaviour and the popularity of violent computer games. The literature does not bear out that assertion."
Even a slight short-term affect on aggression was called into question because "these studies do not thoroughly explore other factors such as aggressive personality, family and peer influence, and socio-economic status."
Using this data, Australia hopes to make a decision on whether or not it should introduce an R18+ rating to keep its little ones (or at least the ones that haven't become bite-sized snacks for the continent's wonderful selection of giant spiders) away from gaming's more blood-spattered experiences. Previously, Australia opted to simply refuse classification for those games altogether – effectively banning them from sale.
Regardless, we're pretty happy to hear what they've uncovered so far. So the next time someone calls your hobby a "murder simulator," pick up a phone and call Australia. If there's a better way to win any sort of argument, we're certainly not aware of it.
We’re at a point in history when, if gamers are to maintain credibility, we need to acknowledge both the good and bad in our passion. Grand Theft Childhood ($25, Simon & Schuster) by Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K. Olson is a fair and comprehensive study of games and violence, and we would do well to pay attention to its conclusions.
Have you heard the one about the 3,500 research studies that show a positive relationship between media violence and violent behavior? It’s an old cudgel often used to bludgeon the gaming industry in the debate about violent games.