The Instigator
Pro (for)
21 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Resolved: Violent video games cause increased aggressive behavior

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 1/12/2015 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,056 times Debate No: 68045
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (32)
Votes (3)




Hello. I would like to note, before I begin, I love gaming. I am an addict. But I am aware of the deleterious effects which it gives me, and would like to discuss the issue.

== Definitions ==
Violent video games: Using a definition similar to California law, a violent video game is "a video game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being". (

Aggressive behavior: Behavior which causes physical or emotional harm to others. It ranges from verbal abuse to physical abuse, and destruction of another's property.

== Structure ==

In R1, CON can either state his case or merely accept. If he argues in R1, last round will be left blank ("no round as agreed upon") by con. If he/she accepts in R1, R2 will be case--no rebuttals, and R3 and R4 will be rebuttals and defense.

== Rules ==

If you wish to put sources in an outside link (integrate it at the end of your argument) you can do so. Putting it on a link is easier than putting it in the comments if the voters want to check and see what we're citing. Also no semantics. No trolling. This debate is pretty straightforward. Yeah that is it. Have fun. Yay...


Hello, 16kadams! I will argue for the case that violent video games do not cause increased aggressive behavior. The burden of proof is on pro; pro is arguing for the contention.

== 1. The supposed link is unclear ==

P1. If there is a clear link between violent video games and violence, pro meets his burden of proof.
P2. There is no clear link between violent video games and violence.
C. Pro does not meet his burden of proof.

Justification for Premise 2:

While there are some studies which supposedly demonstrate a link between violence and violent video games, some recent studies suggest that this is not the case: real life environments are different than experimental environments in terms of how they influence people. Research has shown that sometimes violent media correlates with more violence; however, during other time periods, the influence inverts. This shows that the relation between the two is most likely correlation, and not causation. (

== 2. Violence has been going down, despite the rising popularity of video games ==
P1. If video games cause violence, then increased popularity of violent video games would increase violence.
P2. Violence is decreasing, yet the popularity of violent video games is increasing.
C. Video games do not cause violence.

Justification for premise 2: despite the fact that the popularity of video games increased between 1990 and 2010, the crime rates actually dropped. ( This shows that there is a lack of correlation between the popularity of violent video games and crime rates.

By the way, for my case to work, the popularity of video games should have increased over the past years; this is indeed demonstrated by the fact that the video game industry grows by around 16.7% annually. (
Debate Round No. 1


1. Meta-analytic reviews

Meta-analytic analysis is very important when looking at a variety of issues. Meta-analysis is when scholars look at the research and determine what the sum of the research indicates. Many would claim this is merely a bandwagon fallacy—just because a majority of experts believe in one thing, it does not make it true. But this is misleading: meta-analysis is not a head count, but it tells us what a majority of the evidence is telling us. Meta-analysis techniques, therefore, are important when forming an opinion on any issue.

An early meta-analysis was published in 2001. The analysis was in response to the growing popularity of violent videogames. The study was not there to make new claims, but rather summarize what has already been published. Overall, evidence indicated violent videogames do cause aggression. The study also attempted to reconcile how there are some who argue videogames do not cause aggression. For example, an early meta-analysis in 1998 claimed there was strong evidence that videogames cause aggression, whereas in 1999 there was a study with the opposite conclusion, criticizing previous research for methodological flaws. This study reviewed all of the evidence, and concluded violent videogames likely causes aggressive behaviors—but concedes some methodological flaws are prevalent in the literature, and offers suggestions for future research [1.].

Another analysis was published on the same year in the American Psychological Society. A criticism which CON notes is how laboratory results may differ from the real world—and I accept that idea. However, studies in the field also corroborate the idea that violent videogames do foster aggressive behavior. The results seem to apply to both males and females. Violent videogames also reduce prosocial behavior—i.e. helping people in need. Research indicates violent media in general can cause increased aggressive behavior. Violent video games, then, should have the same effect. If anything, it should be greater, as it is more immersive. The authors conclude, “These results clearly support the hypothesis that exposure to violent video games poses a public-health threat to children and youths, including college-age individuals” [2.].

The former analysis was briefly updated in 2003. The updated version looked more closely into methodological differences. It noted methodologically weaker studies found no effect. Methodologically superior studies found strong effects between videogames and violence. Other meta-analytic reviews failed to look into methodology very closely. This means, if anything, previous reviews underestimate the amount of violence videogames cause. The vast majority of research supports my position—and the stronger methodology used, the stronger the effect between violence and videogames seems to become [3.].

The final review worth noting is Anderson et al. 2010. Easily the most comprehensive review of the literature, the study expands upon previous research. Looking over new evidence as well as adjusting for methodological flaws pointed out by critics (namely, Christopher Ferguson). What is interesting, the skeptical reviews my Ferguson rely upon “a very small set of available studies” [4.]. Those studies also use poor methods in order to control for perceived publication bias, questionable trim and fill methods, and the multiple studies are not independent studies—they rely upon similar datasets with few changes. The authors conducted this review on order to address Ferguson’s criticisms and expand upon previous summarization. The study also reviewed evidence from foreign nations—such as Japan—as previous reviews focused solely on Western countries. Players are not merely moving the controller. They become immersed within such virtual reality, which leads them to become aggressive and mimic certain behaviors. The evidence strongly supports the idea that violent videogames cause aggression [4].

2. Non-laboratory results confirm that videogames cause aggression

Laboratory studies are invaluable for this line of research—there is no doubt about it. But laboratory research alone is not sufficient enough to prove a causal link, as the real world has other factors at work. A large survey asked questions to 430 elementary schools students, 607 adolescents, and 1441 older adolescents (mean age 19 years). Rating of behavior was both self-rated as well as rated by teachers. Peers were also utilized in order to rate their fellow classmates behavior. Nearly every methodology and age group had one thing in common. Those who played videogames were rated higher in aggression categories, and those who played violent videogames more often were also rated as more aggressive [5.].

According to the APA, there is an abundance of evidence that videogames “may also be more conducive to increasing aggressive behavior than passively watching violence on TV and in films”. The APA recommends “the reduction of all violence in videogames and interactive media marketed to children and youth” [6.].

It is also illogical to argue that laboratory studies are wholly irrelevant. Factors which lead to real-world violence seem to have similar effects in laboratory settings. Therefore, it is incorrect to argue that effects in the real world will differ significantly than results in a lab [7.].

3. Crime rates

A significant portion of Con’s case revolves around youth violence decreasing as videogame consumption increases. What first must be noted is the study my opponent cited (Ferguson 2014) excludes children who are within the age group 18 – 22. These children are in college. If anything, those in that age group are the most prone for aggressive behavior due to violent videogames. Indeed, college videogame players tend to become agitated much more easily as they see higher aggression rates when playing games which are only E-rated [7]. Therefore, the results may have been different had this high risk group been included.

Second, to claim youth violence is decreasing does not harm the theory. Violence is decreasing not because of videogames, but in spite of it. The claim assumes a few things. A) videogame consumption is increasing, B) youth violence is decreasing, and C) videogames are a primary factor in overall violence rates. (a) is likely a correct assumption. (b) is debatable. A 2001 report by the US Surgeon General’s office shows an increase in youth violence. And since about 1989, the trend has stayed relatively stable [8.]. The second assumption is blatantly false. Media violence is one factor in determining overall crime rates, but it is not the most important one [7]. Therefore, it is not shocking that decreases in violence could still occur even if media consumption increases.

It is undisputed that overall violent crime has fallen since the late 1980s [9.]. A lot of research has answered the question as to what caused the decline. If these factors are large enough—which they were—they would override any positive relationship between videogames and crime. So, what large forces cause the crime decreases?

One of the factors was the increased usage of the death penalty. The vast majority of peer-refereed publications support the notion that the death penalty decreases crime. The death penalty has been used more frequently during the period which we saw massive crime reduction. The increase in executions likely led to 12 – 14% of the nation’s decrease in the homicide rate. The death penalty may even have a slight deterrent effect on other violent crimes, as if a victim dies in a rape, robbery, or assault they can be executed. Therefore, the DP may even reduce overall violent crime rates. The number of prisoners may also have decreased crime rates. As there were higher arrest rates, criminals were deterred. Studies indicate the more certain the punishment, the more deterrent effect will be produced. Higher overall arrest rates and conviction rates significantly decreased crime. Arrest rates decreased crime 16 – 18%, and increased conviction decreased another 12%. Right-to-carry laws were also implemented and those who had concealed carry permits became a more common occurrence. The death penalty, law enforcement, and right to carry laws were responsible for 60% of the violent crime decrease [10. John Lott. Freakonomics (2007) pp 135, 139, 144].

Violent videogames did not cause a crime decrease: a crime decrease occurred in spite of increased media consumption. Other factors have merely masked the effects of increased media consumption.

4. Theoretical considerations

Most sociological models predict repeated exposure to media violence would increase aggressive attitudes. Psychologists Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman have created the General Aggression Model, which claims videogames do cause aggression [2]. The model neatly explains how videogames lead to increased violence. The model has recently been verified [11.] using empirical techniques. Therefore, it is not surprising that the majority [1][2][3][4] of published research supports the notion that videogames cause increased tendencies for violence. Nor is it surprising that laboratory [7] and empirical [1][2][3][4][5][6] studies both conclude videogames cause violence. The following graphic is from [2], and briefly explains the general aggression model. The empirical verification of the model [11] is below it.


A vast majority of published research corroborates the conclusion that violent videogames cause violence. I have fulfilled any suggested burden of proof.



1. Meta-analytic reviews
Con claims that meta-analytic reviews show that methodologically superior studies show that video games do cause violence. However, many meta-analysis studies which show that there is a link between video gaming and violence are plagued with publication bias and methodological problems, such as citing studies which were not published or selecting certain studies and ignoring others. (

2. Non-Laboratory results

A survey is not a study: it can be affected by the personal biases of teachers and students. As the teachers knew which students whose violent behaviors they were rating, the survey that pro cited was not sufficiently blinded. (

Also, many experts, parents, and paediatricians agree that violent video games do not cause violence. ( If the survey that pro cited were to be counted as valid evidence, then this should be too.

One of the methodological flaws of using labratory results is that the violent clips and video game content are often served to the groups of youth outside of their contexts; the entire narrative of the violent work of fiction was not provided. This is different than in real life situations. (

3. Crime Rates

Pro claims that crime rates decreased in spite of violent media becoming more popular. I propose an alternative idea: violent media has nothing to do with crime rates. Studies have shown that the one thing that correlates with crime is gasoling lead levels. (

Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for his response.

1. Meta-analytic reviews

My opponent drops most of the studies, and only offers a simple response: Anderson et al. is flawed. He cites a rebuttal paper by Christopher J Ferguson, who seems to be one of the few scholars remaining who opposes the consensus view.

Ferguson claims Anderson’s statistical testing is flawed, but they actually relied upon accepted statistical techniques which only Ferguson seems to criticize. Ferguson also criticizes Anderson’s use of unpublished studies, but there is no reason to exclude those from a meta-analysis. Indeed, Ferguson has often claimed there is publication bias. By Anderson including those papers, publication bias is then controlled for. Using unpublished papers, book chapters, and books in a meta-analysis is actually a common meta-analysis technique as biased journal reviewers can’t deny those papers. If anything, it is a good thing those papers were included in the analysis. Ferguson claims Anderson excluded papers, but this is not the case. Every paper which fit the author’s criteria was placed into the paper. And Ferguson’s final criticism is how the paper’s effect (e.g. how much videogames cause aggression) is untrue. The aggression correlations found were actually more than enough to warrant medical intervention. Ferguson literally claims conspiracy, claiming Anderson et al. are trying to create a public scare. Ferguson uses typical denial tactics (for other examples, see climate change, tobacco, and drugs) [1.].

2. Non-laboratory results

Con claims the study is biased because it is not blinded. Teachers, for example, rate the kids. But the teachers are blinded as to which children play videogames—so any biases in relation to videogame playing are non-existent. This is also a large assumption which claims the large differences in violent behavior reported are due to teacher biases against certain students. But this assumption seems highly unlikely: do all of the student’s the teacher dislike play videogames? And all of the student’s the teachers dislike play videogames for longer durations? As you add these variables on, the theory that bias was the reason the conclusions came about seems highly unlikely. Further, the older students—who exhibited arguably the most adverse effects—were asked to rate themselves. If anything, they would have a bias to *reduce* their aggressive behaviors when reporting. Therefore, if there was any teacher bias, chances are it would be canceled out by the bias which is trying to make them feel better about themselves. The older students in college also likely have less of a personal relationship with their teachers, so any biases would be minimal. They were also rated by their peers. If anything, bias explaining *all* of the results seems extremely unlikely. Both peers, teachers, and the students would have to claim aggression for my opponents claim to make sense. But if anything, students when self-rating would provide ‘good’ answers, counterbalancing the negative ones from their teachers or peers. Therefore, bias is not a good argument against the study’s results [2.].

Con claims many people believe videogames do not cause them to be aggressive. Ok? Merely because most of a demographic supports videogames does not mean they do not have negative effects. I noted how the majority of actual evidence supports my theory, which is a stronger point than merely a head-count. Further, the American Academy of Pediatricians contradicts my opponent’s entire claim that pediatricians support videogames. Their report—if anything—suggests they oppose excessive video game play. They suggest “limiting screen time” and also recommend “making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children's bedrooms” [3.]. Research published in Pediatrics journals also concludes how violent videogames lead to increased aggressive behavior, and claims of videogames ‘mediating violence’ are empirically false [4.].

As noted, there are non-laboratory studies proving my point. But to assume *all* laboratory studies are incorrect is ludicrous. Even if you put the violence into a story, there is no reason to believe it would mitigate the impact on aggression. If anything, it may romanticize it—making the effect more extreme. As noted, in the real world many things are known to cause violence. Laboratory studies have found these ‘real world’ effects still cause violence in the lab, which confirms that laboratories can, at least partially, reproduce what will occur in the real world [5.].

3. Crime

I have already proven crime can go up and down regardless of videogame consumption as other factors—whether it be gun laws, death penalty laws, arrest/conviction rates, or gasoline can all overpower media consumption. But that does *not* mean videogames do not increase the crime rate nor does it disprove the effect videogames have on violent behavior. Again, this is a throw-away argument which has little weight on this debate.

Say temperature didn’t change inside a cabin when it got colder outside. It does *not* mean the weather outside is not having a cooling effect on the cabin—it only means other factors—like the automatic heater—are causing homeostasis. The temperature obviously is exerting a cooling effect, but other factors are masking what otherwise would be a frigid house. And the cold is having one effect: a higher gas bill! ;D



However, I play video games, and I am not aggressive. This means that pro is WRONG!!!!!1111
ljdds ljf fdfdfddffdfd
Debate Round No. 3


Extend arguments, anecdotal evidence. Vote PRO. haha

To counter his anecdote, I will cite myself. When I play violent video games, I tend to become more aggressive for short periods of time after I am done playing. Although it wears off over time, being interrupted, forced to get off, or someone trying to be nice to me can make be a bipolar crazy loon for about 30 minutes after extended play. Only slower paced games--which, luckily, I play the most of--prevent this from occurring.

Vote PRO.


No arguments as per rules.

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Debate Round No. 4
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Vocem-Mendacii 1 year ago
If you actually read the last round, you will discover that it does not actually contain an argument: it's complete gibberish.
Posted by 16kadams 1 year ago
broke rules lol
Posted by 16kadams 1 year ago
I mean drug legalization lol
Posted by debatability 1 year ago
eh that topic isn't as appealing anymore

also you've seen my arguments haha
Posted by 16kadams 1 year ago
Yeah if you want we can debate that sometime
Posted by debatability 1 year ago
nvm your definition of aggressive implies action rather than intention
Posted by debatability 1 year ago
also violence =/= aggression

its not too hard to prove that video games cause aggression; i might even concede that they do
but not violence
Posted by debatability 1 year ago
haha one of my favorite topics XD

im burnt out on it though; we were going to debate drug legalization later right?
Posted by 16kadams 1 year ago
I asked her and she said no a while back
Posted by BLAHthedebator 1 year ago
Notice that I added *nearly*.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: I found this debate to be very good up until Con's R3 submission. I found it to be poor in regards to conduct, S&G, and arguments, and such a round significantly hurt him. Due to that, I found several arguments from Pro to be dropped. The meta-analytic reviews line of argumentation was left largely unrebutted by Con aside from his criticism of one specific study. The Non-lab results and crime lines of argumentation were completely dropped. For this, Pro wins. I additionally found Pro's sources to be much more compelling and stronger in regards to validating his arguments.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Con lost after I saw R3... I'm not sure what he was aiming for... On a note, Pro had extensive sourcing and quality studies. He pointed out flaws in Con's while the flaw Con pointed out didn't stand to scrutiny. Con then broke the rules and posted a full rebuttal in R4, after posting his arguments in R1.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Con drops essentially every contention in round three, which amounts to a pseudo-forfeit. Con also uses the last round to say more things than "no round as agreed upon". Due to these reason, Pro wins the debate.