From Slashdot I came across a story in GamePron about how Australian R18+ games rating gets govt support. In Australia any game that isn’t classified MA 15+ or below is refused classification and thus can’t be sold. (The Australian system is law unlike the voluntary industry ESRB system.) The Australian government is now considering adding a new R 18+ designation based on government supported studies and consultations.
Of particular interest is a literature review on Literature review on the impact of playing violent video games on aggression (PDF). This excellent review concludes that “research into the effects of VVGs (Violent Video Games) on aggression is contested and inconclusive.” (p. 5) This 50 page review by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department is a model of clarity and balance – it is worth quoting in greater detail,
There is some consensus in the research that some members of the community, such as people with psychotic personality traits, may be more affected by VVGs than others. However, there is mixed evidence as to whether VVGs have a greater impact on children.
A number of other findings of this review arguably reduce the policy relevance of VVG research.
- There is stronger evidence of short-term VVG effects than of long-term effects.
- The possibility that third variables (like aggressive personality, family and peer influence, socio-economic status) are behind the effect has not been well explored.
- Researchers who argue that VVGs cause aggression have not engaged with or disproved alternative theories propagated by their critics.
- There is little evidence that violent video games have a greater impact than other violent media. (p. 5)