Exposure is biggest factor in determining the public perception of video games
A new report shows that 61 percent of Britons believe that video games can be a cause of real world aggression.
The research, conducted by YouGov in cooperation with Dr. Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute, shows that this belief is directly proportional to the age of those interviewed and has a lot to do with how much exposure a respondent had to games.
Interestingly, a majority 56 percent of those surveyed also believed that video games provided a useful outlet for frustrations and aggression.
Women were two and a half times more likely to believe games resulted in real world violence, but were just as likely as men to think they were a good place to vent frustrations.
The age gap was quite telling, showing the older generation was 5.5 times more likely to link video games and violence while younger people were 2.6 times as likely to think of games as a good outlet for frustration.
Both the gender and generational gaps are probably best understood in terms of exposure to games.
“Perhaps the most telling contrasts between Britons’ views of electronic games are clear once their first-hand experience with games was introduced into the equation,” wrote Przybylski.
Those who said they had no experience watching or playing violent games were more than five times as likely to think they were a cause of aggression, and those who had never played games themselves were over three times more likely to think games were linked with violence.
People with direct experience of games were nearly twice as likely to say they were a useful outlet for aggression and disagree with the idea that video games caused aggression.
The report suggests that the present controversy over games will probably fade with time as more Britons are exposed to games.
“This ambivalence might be temporary as the population at large becomes more familiar with games,” said Przybylski.
“It is possible that concerns about games could fade away in much the same way that fears about rock music, comic books, and radio dramas dissolved when these forms of entertainment gained wider acceptance.”
The report doesn't highlight any causes of the gender gap, which is a bit dissapointing, considering that women represent a larger portion of the sample and, at least in America, are just as likely as men to play video games.
Yesterday Microsoft revealed the percentage of female Xbox Live users had risen to 40 percent, but women already represent the majority of mobile and casual gamers.
This might suggest the gap is related to another, more cultural divide, or it could simply be that women represented a larger percentage of the older population.