Call of Duty, a shooter video game, is often blamed for real-life gun crime. 

A new scientific study published today shows that these games do not cause violence in the real world. 

The study author, who is based in London, examined how new violent video game releases affect violent behavior among adolescent boy. 

She concluded that policies intended to place restrictions on video game sales to minors – as attempted by several US states – are unlikely to reduce violence. 

Video games have been blamed for many real-life acts of violence like mass shootings.

The new study coincides Friday’s UK release of ‘Vanguard,’ the latest iteration of Call of Duty’s first-person shooter Call of Duty series. 

As the latest 'Call of Duty' video game is released in the UK today - Call of Duty: Vanguard - new research shows that violent video games do not lead to increased violence

Call of Duty: Vanguard is the UK’s newest video game. New research has shown that violent video games don’t lead to more violence.


Shooter games are a subgenre within action video games.

They involve shooting enemies or other targets with firearms. 

Early shooter games were limited in player mobility. The player could not move the weapon vertically or horizontally along the edges of a screen. 

Today’s best shooter games are often first-person. First-person shooter games offer a more immersive experience because they are viewed from the first person. 

Dr Agne Suzelyte, senior lecturer at the Department of Economics at City University of London, led the research. 

Dr Suziedelyte examined the effects of violent video games on two types of violence – aggression against other people, and destruction of property and things.

The study focused on boys in the US aged between eight and 18 years – the group most likely to play violent video games.

Dr Suziedelyte used economic methods to identify plausible causal effects of violent games on violence. 

She found no evidence to show that violence against others increases after a violent new video game is released. 

However, parents reported that children were more likely than their peers to damage things after playing violent videogames. 

‘Taken together, these results suggest that violent video games may agitate children, but this agitation does not translate into violence against other people – which is the type of violence which we care about most,’ Dr Suziedelyte said. 

“My results could be explained by the fact that video games are played at home, where violence is less common. 

The research provides evidence of the effects of violent video game releases on children's violent behaviour using data from the US

 The research provides evidence of the effects of violent video game releases on children’s violent behaviour using data from the US

This “incapacitation” effect is particularly important for violent-prone boys who may be attracted especially to violent video games.


Researchers looked at three games that participants most often played in a 2018 study and determined if they were violent (such as Call of Duty), or non-violent (such Fifa).

They tracked the brainwaves of participants using electroencephalography (EEG).

They also completed a “stop-signal task” which consisted of male and female faces looking happy or scared.

The study showed that gaming was associated with lower empathy, and emotional callousness.

Researchers believe that it is because it hinders people’s ability process emotion facial expressions and control their responses. 

“Therefore policies that restrict the sale of video games to minors are unlikely in order to reduce violence.”        

Dr Suziedelyte noted that video game sales in the USA have increased since the 1990s, while violent crime rates have declined over the same period. 

She also citied evidence that video games, whether violent in nature or otherwise, increase children’s problem-solving ability. 

Mass media and general public often link violent video games to real-life violence, although there is limited evidence to support the link, according to Dr Suziedelyte.  

The debate on the topic tends to intensify after mass public shootings. Some commentators have linked these violent acts with the perpetrators’ interest in violent video games.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA), blames the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown on the perpetrator’s obsessions with violent games.  

Former US President Donald Trump also frequently stated his theory that gaming violence leads to real violence, after mass shooting events during his time in office – despite America’s notorious stance over firearm possession. 

In August 2019, Trump blamed internet, social media, computer games and mental illness for the El Paso shooting – which killed 22 people – but not firearms.  

Strauss Zelnick is the CEO of Take-Two Interactive. This gaming company is behind Grand Theft Auto.

Zelnick also called gun violence “uniquely American”, but stated that entertainment is consumed worldwide.  

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution still protects the right to keep and carry arms under President Joe Biden. 

A paper published in Royal Society Open Science last year looked at several long-term studies on aggression and video games. 

It found no evidence linking ‘aggressive’ game content to anger or rage later in life.

It found that “poor quality studies” in the past may have exaggerated the effect of games on aggression. Better quality studies, however, show that the effects of gaming are merely marginal.  

These findings were similar to those of a University of Oxford study published in 2019. 

Former US President Donald Trump (pictured here in July 2021) blamed mass shootings on violent video games during his time in office

Former US President Donald Trump (pictured here, July 2021). He blamed mass shootings for violent video games during his time as president.

According to Oxford researchers, there is no correlation between teenagers’ aggressive behavior and their time playing violent video games.

There has been some research to support the theory that violent video games lead to real violence, however.

One 2018 study found playing violent video games regularly makes people desensitised to disturbing images. 

Researchers at the University of New South Wales discovered that regular players were more adept at ignoring graphic content when viewing a series of images quickly. 

Another study in the same year found that those who engage in chronically violent gameplay have lower empathy and more emotional cruelty.  

Yet another study from 2014 led by Iowa State University found violent video games fuel aggressive behaviour as children grow up, regardless of age, gender or culture.

It is not possible to be more aggressive in real-life if you play violent videogames as a child. 

 Playing violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty won’t make children more aggressive, a 2020 study found. 

Multiple long-term studies on aggression and video games were reviewed by researchers from Massey University and the University of Tasmania. 

They did not find any evidence that there was a significant link between aggressive game content and anger or rage later in childhood. 

“Poor quality studies” in the past probably exaggerated aggression’s impact on games, while better quality studies now show that gaming has negligible effects. 

Regulation of violent games did not appear to reduce aggression in real-life, so parents shouldn’t be concerned about their children making enemies online. 

Some politicians have blamed video games for real-life violence such as mass shootings in the US. 

After a shooting in the US, Donald Trump stated that America must’stop glorifying violence’ through ‘gruesome video games’.