Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


Entry archive:

(Lisa F. Young/iStockphoto)
(Lisa F. Young/iStockphoto)

Violent video games lead to … co-operation? Add to ...

Playing violent video games doesn’t make kids behave violently in the real world – they make them learn to co-operate with others, according to a new study.

As most experienced gamers will tell you, it’s not aggression that leads to victory, it’s teamwork.

A research group from the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, came to the same conclusion after spending hundreds of hours playing violent games and observing other gamers. The group focused on games that depicted violence and aggressive action in which players had to fight with and against each other.

“The situations gamers encounter in these games call for sophisticated and well-co-ordinated collaboration. We analyzed what characteristics and knowledge the gamers need to have in order to be successful,” Jonas Ivarsson, docent at the department of education, communication and learning at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, said in a release.

Players who act emotionally or aggressively or are inconsiderate to other gamers were found to not do as well as gamers who played strategically and co-operated with others when required.

“The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the notion of transfer, which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation can be used in an entirely different context. The whole idea of transfer has been central in education research for a very long time.” Prof. Ivarsson said.

He added: “In a nutshell, we’re questioning the whole gaming and violence debate, since it’s not based on a real problem but rather on some hypothetical reasoning.”

Previous studies have linked violent video games with the possibility of actual violent behaviour through brain scans. That research showed that when kids are playing violent games the areas of the brain involved with inhibition and self-control flare up like Donkey Kong when he’s angry.

But no study has proved a clear causal link between playing a violent game and violent behaviour out in the real world. In fact, a number of studies question any such connection.

At the same time, a raft of studies have found that violent games help kids develop problem-solving skills and encourage scientific reasoning. Other studies have even found that people who play video games make better surgeons than people who don’t.

Do you think violent video games lead to real-world violence?

Report Typo/Error

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_McGinn

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular