In 1976, the launch of a video arcade game sent ripples across the US media. Death Race saw players attempt to run down stick-figure "gremlins" - a depiction of violence that sent concerned parents and media outlets into a censorship spin.
It was the beginning of the now familiar debate: do violent video games have an unfavourable impact on children?
The latest study on the subject would suggest: not really, no.
A long-term study by the University of Bristol saw a pool of 14,541 potential candidates reduced to a sample of 1,815 children. Researchers monitored the type of games the children were playing at the age of eight and nine years old, assessing what type of games they were playing - shoot-em-up, sport racing, role-playing etc - with questions asking how violent the games were.
The research was then resumed when the sample group reached the age of 15, when the children were assessed for conduct disorder (violent behaviour, issues with authorities) and depression.
Of the 1,815 participants, only 26 participants met the criteria for conduct disorder: one participant had stopped playing games; 11 mainly played puzzle games and just 14 played violent shoot-em-ups. Just 22 of the participants met the criteria for depression case status, with the majority (eight) playing puzzle games.
"Our results indicate that playing video games that are more likely to include violent content (i.e., shoot-em-ups) in childhood is weakly associated with an increased risk of conduct disorder in late adolescence," writes the report. "While our results are broadly in line with findings suggesting that violent game content is associated with increased aggressive tendencies, the associations we observe (and statistical evidence for these) are modest, and do not seem to be consistent with claims that the effects of playing violent video games on aggressive behaviour are of a sizeable magnitude."
In short - the links between violent video games and bad behaviour found in this study are so slight that the researchers suggest no policies should be drawn up to ban kids from violent games.
Follow the age guidelines on the box, and stop worrying if Splatoon is going to turn your kid into a psychopath.
[Via: Lad Bible]