There's a couple of ways to look at this latest video game study out of the U.K. Either there is no meaningful link between playing violent video games and aggressive behavior, or FIFA 11 is deadlier than Modern Warfare.
Guess which one formed the headline in the British press after a study found that a kill in a combat shooter registered a much smaller amount of brain activity compared to giving up a goal or committing a foul in a soccer (sigh, football) game like FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer.
"As participants reacted with more agitation during the football game, it seems the effects of violent video games have been misrepresented in the past," said Dr. Simon Goodson, whose research, with Dr. Sarah Pearson, was presented this week to the British Psychological Society's annual conference.
The study measured heart rate, respiration and brain activity of 80 participants, half female, half male.
"There is much concern over the effects of violent video games and how these contribute to general aggression," Goodson wrote. "However, this research indicates that 'killing' someone is not as 'real' as playing a sport and the brain recognizes this and doesn't react in the same way."
Goodson adds that playing a sport in a video game feels more real to gamers, who have possibly played it and faced its consequences in real life, than a combat shooter, an experience which few have had in reality. Or it could be the fact that, in a five-minute span, an experienced player can rack up 20 kills in a shooter, whereas a 3-0 result in a 90-minute football game is considered high scoring, making those goals a ton more significant than killing a zombie.