Brooks, M.C. (2000). Press start: Exploring the effects of violent video games on boys. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 2000). Dissertation Abstracts International, 60 (12-B), 6419.

Abstract: In contrast to the wealth of research linking television violence to increases in aggression, violent video games have received relatively little research despite their popularity among children. The purpose of this study was to explore, within a cognitive framework, the effects of violent video games on children. Participants were 120 6th and 7th grade boys randomly assigned to either low or high violence conditions of three activities: playing video games, watching videotapes of video game play, or viewing television programs. Measures of heart rate were taken at baseline and throughout the activity period, after which participants completed self-report measures of positive and negative affect, hypothetical situational aggressiveness, aggression-related affect, frustration, social realism and character identification. Participants also completed a video game survey and an information form concerning their media interests and habits. Major findings included that video game play resulted in significant increases in physiological arousal whereas watching videotapes of video game play and viewing television programs did not. A main effect for violence level was found on aggression-related affect and a main effect for media condition was found on negative affect, but these relationships disappeared when self-reported frustration was controlled statistically. The self-reported frustration of video game players was moderately correlated with negative affect and aggression-related affect. Self-reported frustration contributed significantly to the proportion of variance in aggression-related affect but violence level did not. Participants in the video game conditions rated the social realism of video games as significantly lower than did television viewers. Participants rated character identification as low across all media groups. One of the major implications of this research is that frustration may be extremely important in the potential short-term relationship between video game play and aggression. Long-term negative effects of violent video game play may be mitigated to some extent by players’ perceptions of them as low in social realism and character identification. Based upon the findings of this research and a review of the available data, implications are discussed and recommendations are made to the video game industry and to parents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)