Violent Video Games Have 'Numbing' Effect

You've heard it all before. Violent video games have been linked to simple antisocial behavior to full on school shootings, and everything in between. Numerous pieces have been composed on the subject, and are usually met with divisive opinions, generally separated along a generational divide. Although I generally seem to fall on the end of thinking that violent games alone don't produce killers IRL, a recent study has caught my eye. A study from a University of Michigan professor allegedly shows that people who play violent video games are less likely to aid a stranger in a violent real-life situation, or generally respond more slowly:

320 college students played either a violent or a nonviolent video game for approximately 20 minutes. A few minutes later, they overheard a staged fight that ended with the "victim" sustaining a sprained ankle and groaning in pain.

People who had played a violent game took significantly longer to help the victim than those who played a nonviolent game---73 seconds compared to 16 seconds. People who had played a violent game were also less likely to notice and report the fight. And if they did report it, they judged it to be less serious than did those who had played a nonviolent game.

In the second study, the participants were 162 adult moviegoers. The researchers staged a minor emergency outside the theater... The researchers timed how long it took moviegoers to [help]... Participants who had just watched a violent movie took over 26 percent longer to help than either people going into the theater or people who had just watched a nonviolent movie.

Now, even though I think that the time proximity of the playing/viewing to the staged incident seems a bit too close to form a concrete generalization, the numbers are a bit staggering. To me, this sort of finding holds a bit more water than the hackneyed "violence begets violence" argument.

I'm curious, what do you guys think? As horror fans, do you think we are so 'exposed' that perhaps it negates these so called effects, or do you find this theory to be feasible?

Study: Violent Games Make Players "Comfortably Numb" to Suffering of Others via Game Politics


Co-Owner/Managing Editor/Web Developer/Podcast Co-Host/Beard Wizard

Mark is the pretty much everything of Bloody Good Horror. When he's not casting spells in Magic or Hearthstone, you'll probably find him watching wrestling, beard glistening from the essence of Chicago's myriad beers and meats.

Get Your BGH Fix