Violent video game pioneer disputes aggression link

John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and creator of one of the first violent video games, has a stark disagreement with studies that link violent games to aggressive behavior.

In a recent interview with Industry Gamers, Carmack said he believes violent video games actually have the opposite effect.

“I really think, if anything, there is more evidence to show that the violent games reduce aggression and violence. There have actually been some studies about that, that it’s cathartic. If you go to QuakeCon and you walk by and you see the people there [and compare that to] a random cross section of a college campus, you’re probably going to find a more peaceful crowd of people at the gaming convention. I think it’s at worst neutral and potentially positive,” he said.

Carmack was at the helm of the old-school classic Doom, which has heaps of blood and gore but is presented in a blocky, highly unrealistic environment.

Nevertheless, it was one of the key players in opening up the violent video game debate. It’s because of games like Doom that the Entertainment Software Rating Board was created, providing an independent organization to rate the content in video games just like the MPAA does for movies.

Despite that, there’s been no shortage of people trying to convince Americans that violent games are evil and train children to become killers. Often, when brutal massacres occur, the murderers are linked to video games. But in a day and age where it seems almost everyone plays video games, does that really even mean anything anymore?

Carmack isn’t just speaking from the hip. There have been studies that actually suggest violent games can lead to a decrease in aggression.