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No correlation between game violence and real-world violence, says new study

Christopher Ferguson, a well-known researcher in the field of examining the psychology of violent media's effects on real-life violent behavior, has urged those in positions of power to stop wrongly identifying video game violence as a catalyst for crime.
Christopher Ferguson, a well-known researcher in the field of examining the psychology of violent media's effects on real-life violent behavior, has urged those in positions of power to stop wrongly identifying video game violence as a catalyst for crime. The Stetson University professor has spoken out numerous times before about the supposed link between between video game violence and real-life violence, stating that there is no evidence that a connection exists. Now the professor has released a new study, in which he attempts to correlate violent video game consumption during 1996-2011, against federal data on youth violence rates during that same period. As reported by Medical Daily, Ferguson notes that if violent video games are truly a cause of real-life violence, you'd expect youth violence rates to increase during this period, as graphic violence in video games became more prominent. Yet his study shows that youth violence rates did not increase during this period -- in fact, violent video game consumption was strongly correlated with declines in youth violence, his data shows. Of course, Ferguson is keen to stress that this downward correlation is most likely down to chance, rather than an indication that violent video games actually caused a decline in youth violence. While most studies into this field have focused on short-term correlation, this is one of the first studies to look at the effect of violent video games on society over such a long period of time -- and Ferguson argues that the results show violent video games are having no visible effect on real-life violence levels. "Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime," he states in his study. "There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health." He adds, "This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value." Earlier this year, Gamasutra found that proposed research by the White House into a possible link between video game violence and gun violence never occured, and instead acted as a photo op to prove that the government was listening to the mainstream media.

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