On Wednesday, we spoke to Dr. Simon Goodson from Huddersfield University about his team's amazing new research into the effect violent video games have on aggression - and The Daily Mail's, erm, interesting coverage.
Goodson's crack squad of boffins (still love that word) tested the brain activity, respiration and heart rate of 40 participants whilst playing Gears Of War 2 and Pro Evolution Soccer. The results were surprising, with the football game producing notable rises in aggression, but the violent title inspiring very little in the way of emotional response.
It's an area Goodson and his fellow psychology academics have some history in, having penned 'Reality or Fantasy? Dilemmas of the Modern Video game Player' last year and 'Video Games and Aggression: Using Immersive Technology to Explore the Effects of Violent Content' in 2009, both based on similar studies.
Here, Goodson explains exactly why he feels this research shatters traditional 'biased' thinking towards the link between violent gaming and aggression, details his methodology - and reveals why the video games industry is getting short shrift by certain US studies...
We've tried for three years to find evidence for a link between aggression and violent video games either way - but we haven't been able to, because it doesn't exist.
This time, we used this brand new equipment from America - which I think cost about $50,000 - to looking at brain activity. This isn't Mickey Mouse research, we're using medical-grade equipment to do this that they use in hospitals. We found nothing going on at all with those that were playing the violent game. The only time you'd see emotional reaction is when [people's character] would die - that's when you get some kind of impact. We think these findings lay to bed the argument that violent video games make people aggressive.
Nobody's got experience of massacring people with machine guns [so it's not an experience games mimic] except one or two individuals, perhaps. I certainly don't know any. But lots of people watch football, lots of people have experience of that. Think of the World Cup - we watched some footage of England fans watching that, and they went from being full of national pride and joy to deteriorate rapidly to dejection at the end.
With the sports games, it's like watching someone react like you'd expect them to when they were watching England. The highs and the lows, you know.
What is interesting is when someone commits a foul on purpose. There's all this activity in the brain before they execute it. It's pre-meditated aggression, and leads onto a good point; if you compare that to a kill in a violent game, and we were using Gears Of war 2, there's nothing there. In football, the whole brain lights up like a Christmas tree. Our argument is that people can relate to the consequences of things that mimic real life - which a kill in Gears Of War 2 doesn't appear to do. People know violent video games aren't real.
There's a big group of psychologists in America that do research on violent games - but if you look at it, it's very poor. They don't use good procedure or good equipment, and they sort of set out to prove video games make people aggressive.
Those trying to make a link often refer to the 'Halo 3 Killer' in the US. He went into his parents' bedroom after they took his console and Halo 3 away and said to them: "Close your eyes, I've got a surprise for you," and shot them both in the head. The defence was that he thought they'd respawn. It's tragic and horrible, but if he did actually believe that, he's got serious issues with reality. It's mental illness. And yet people refer to this as evidence that gaming causes aggression and violent behaviour.