In the wake of violent tragedies such as those that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, there is an instinctual need for answers. People want to know why events transpired, how they were allowed to happen, and what can be done to prevent future occurrences.

We fall back on the emotion of faith and security blanket of clinical research as if there is a solid line dividing them. We make the mistake of believing that our "experts" aren't susceptible to the same human impulses as the rest of us. One researcher has stepped forward to remind us.

Dr. Patrick Markey is an associate professor of psychology at Villanova University. He has served as an expert witness for the state of Pennsylvania for his work studying the existence of a relationship between violence in video games and the real world. In his work, Markey has found that aggressive thoughts do increase immediately following time playing violent games. 

These findings have been artificially expanded by some to imply that violent games are a risk factor. Markey cautions against this impulse, especially since over the past fifteen years, mature game sales have increased while violent crime rates have dropped. Furthermore, the link between a perpetrator's terrible actions and history having played video games is a useless data point, since 97 percent of adolescents play.

Markey's purpose in writing is not strictly to absolve the video game industry of fault. In situations where data could be misappropriated or otherwise misinterpreted, it's critical for experts to put the science before the glory that comes with presenting it.

[Source: US News via Game Politics

Image of Dr. Markey courtesy of Villanova University.