A new study recently published by Department of Psychology, RMIT University, Australia brings forth a rather bold new claim: that the very act of video game competition, rather than the violence in video games itself, is responsible for the many anger issues that some try to pass off as being inherent to violent video games in general.
For years and years, many studies in the aftermath of incidents like mass shootings have attempted to portray video games, rock music, and what have you as the root cause. However, the new study paints a different picture.
Competitive multiplayer video games are some of the biggest games out on the market right now, and one can say that their size has also brought up a large number of negative feelings both from and to those that play them. It’s these games and their competitive nature that are likely responsible for all of the anger issues that various studies attempt to demonize.
Various MOBA games, for instance, like League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients 2, and Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm game, very rapidly earned a reputation for toxicity among their fanbases, who are very hostile to newcomers and extremely reactionary when it comes to women and minorities.
Call of Duty has also gained a stereotype of being filled with foul-mouthed children that insult your mother or claim you’re hacking when you’re doing well, not to mention the increased prominence of the “swatting” game, which has resulted in at least one death since it began.
The video game competition study found that competitive games gave their players increased aggressive affect over simple violent games, particularly when players of the competitive games lost, where they exhibited even higher aggressive affect.
The study advocates for more mechanics to institute fair play to decrease aggression in video game competition, but hopefully that does end up coming at some point. Otherwise, it’s good to know that the video game violence issue goes deeper than the blanket labeling of video games being violent.