New Study Claims Playing Violent Games Can Actually Reduce Your Stress

Researcher claims no link between playing violent video games and increased aggression.

Story Highlights

  • A recent study has suggested that violent video games may decrease stress levels in their players.
  • Diverging from earlier studies, there was no identified correlation between these games and players’ aggression.
  • The way individuals perceive violent video games may also be influenced by their personality traits.

Despite the longstanding dominance of violent video games in sales, questions about their impact on players have persisted. For that, researchers have taken on the topic repeatedly over the years. While earlier studies linked these games to elevated stress levels, modern research has negated any such connection.

In fact, a very recent study has claimed that violent video games could actually reduce the levels of stress in their players. In the latest volume of the scientific journal, Physiology and Behaviour, a PhD researcher and a fellow gamer as well, Gary L. Wagener, has concluded that violent video games may relieve stress in some players.

Moreover, in contrast to what has been widely believed for decades, Gary found no effect of these games on players’ levels of aggression or anger. The study involved 54 male participants who were recruited through different channels including university mailing lists, social media, and advertisement posters. Each of these individuals was randomly given either a violent or a non-violent passage from the popular stealth game, “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” to play for 25 minutes.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

To understand the effect on study subjects, the researchers evaluate their levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone, before and after the gameplay, using their saliva samples. Moreover, participants completed questionnaires evaluating the “Dark Tetrad” traits (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, and everyday sadism) and underwent an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure aggressive tendencies. 

The results came out in complete contrast with the older studies. There was no effect seen on testosterone levels in either violent or non-violent groups of players. To much surprise, researchers found a decrease in cortisol levels in the group playing the violent passage, suggesting that playing violent video games could actually have a relaxing effect on their players.

The average person should take away from this study that there is no clear picture that violent video games are harmful for players. They do not necessarily increase aggression in any way but can even have positive relaxing effects for players,” says Gary L. Wagener.

Lastly, like any other research, this study has its limitations, one of which is the researcher generalizing results based on the video game of their choice. Secondly, no female participants were involved to minimize variability and control factors such as menstrual cycles and oral contraceptives, which could potentially impact hormonal levels. 

In any case, there is no denying the significant relationship between gaming and emotions. In line with this, Sony has recently patented to suggest games and in-game activities to players based on emotions. Moreover, if you share a passion for violent video games and looking for suggestions, see the 20 best war games on PS4 to play in 2024.

Did you find this helpful? Leave feedback below.

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Community Feedback

Great article

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

Science Direct

Mubarra is a highly trusted News Reporter at eXputer. Her childhood joyride began with Need for Speed, racing through pixels on her uncle's PC. Now, she blends her love for games and writing as a gaming news reporter, skillfully navigating the tracks of industry updates. During her free time, she finds solace in the harmonies of music. Experience: 1+ Year || Education: Bachelor in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, English for Journalism.

Related Articles

Join Our Community

Enjoyed this article? Discuss the latest gaming news, get expert help with guides and errors, and chat about all things gaming on eXputer Forums and Discord Server. Connect with fellow gamers who share your passion by becoming a part of eXputer's community.