PhD candidate Morgan Tear was recently interviewed by AusGamers regarding his study on the effects of violent video games. Tear's thesis sought to prove that playing these games diminish prosocial behavior. However, he concludes his study stating they could find no proof that violent video games have any effect.
Research spanned three experiments and involved the pen-drop method. Participants were to play one of four different types of modern games (antisocial, prosocial, violent and nonviolent), and proceed to fill out questionnaires to gauge their emotional states. A second test was to be given to them, but this was meant as a ruse, as the experimenter would then fake dropping their pen, and the real test here would be to see if participants would help them or not. In the second experiment, they dropped the ruse of the second test entirely and scheduled the drop test in the middle of or at the end of the first test. In their final experiment, they switched to two classic games, one clearly violent and the other nonviolent, to compare to results from using modern games.
As indicated above, they could make no correlation between test findings regarding participants emotional states, and the likelihood of them helping the experimenter who dropped their pen. This is a clear break from previous tests that sought to prove links between violent games and antisocial behavior, and even links between nonviolent games and prosocial behavior.
In the chat, Tear discusses the use of Portal and Grand Theft Auto in the study. He acknowledges that although games like GTA provide opportunities for the player to be more prosocial in game, he found that participants simply did not avail themselves of that option. He also acknowledges future opportunities and unexplored areas for study, such as comparing effects of video games to other media, and testing cooperative games as fostering prosocial behavior.
You can read an opinion piece we published on the idea of videogames being published here.
Screenshot is from Grand Theft Auto V.