Violent Video Games Help Relieve
Stress, Depression, Says TAMIU Professor
Young adults—male and female—who play violent video games long-term handle stress better than non-playing adults and become less depressed and less hostile following a stressful task, according to a study by Texas A&M International University associate professor, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson.
The article on the research appears in the “European Psychologist” 2010, Volume 15.
“In this study, 103 young adults were given a frustration task and then randomized to play no game, a non-violent game, a violent game with good versus evil theme, or a violent game in which they played ‘the bad guy.’ The results suggest that violent games reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management,” Dr. Ferguson explained.
Whether violent video games cause aggression or violent crime has been a source of contention in public and academic circles. The results do not support a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior.
Ferguson said that the results of this study may help provide others with ways to come up with a mood-management activity that provides individuals with ways to tolerate or reduce stress.
“It probably won’t come to a surprise to gamers that playing games may reduce stress,” Ferguson said, “although others have been skeptical of this idea. This is the first study that explores this idea, however. It does seem that playing violent games may help reduce stress and make people less depressed and hostile.”
Ferguson cautioned that these results were correlational, however, and more research is needed. However, he suggested that video games could increasingly be used in therapy with young adults and teens. Violent games may help people work through their frustrations with real life and calm down without increasing aggressive behaviors in real life.
Ferguson edited last month’s American Psychological Association’s special issue on video games. He has also written numerous articles on the effects of video games that have debunked studies claiming video games are harmful.
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