For years, concerned parents and opportunist politicians have clung to the assumed truism that violent video games begat real-world violence. Never mind whether it was true or not, it always made for great sound bites and gave a crime-fearing public something to mutter under their breath about.
But now word comes from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Dmitri Williams that a long-term study he helmed has concluded that, in fact, there is no currently provable link between games and real-world violence.
According to the study, which looked at players who devoted an average of 56 hours over a month to the online game "Asheron's Call 2," there was no statistical difference in behavior between those who had played the game and those who didn't.
"I'm not saying some games don't lead to aggression, but I am saying the data are not there yet," said Williams in a release. "Until we have more long-term studies, I don't think we should make strong predictions about long-term effects, especially given this finding."
So, in effect, Williams is hedging his bet. Maybe there's a link, he's saying, but no one can prove it definitively. And that, my friends, in scientific terms, means that there's no link. See this space in five years for an update.
Anyway, this is either good news or bad news, depending on who you are and what your place in the criminal justice system or politics is. Politicians will hate it, because they no longer can point to the link between games and violence--at least, not legitimately--while violent offenders will also hate it because they can't use games as their defense.