Finally there is some research which proves what most gamers already know: failing at the game makes one aggressive, not violent imagery. Researchers assessed how people reacted to different scenarios and they concluded that it’s frustration around the game mechanics caused violent behaviour regardless of the imagery.

Again, the mechanics are the message.

Across the experiments, researchers found it was not the narrative or imagery, but the lack of mastery of the game’s controls and the degree of difficulty players had completing the game that led to frustration. The study demonstrated that aggression is a negative side effect of the frustration felt while playing the video game. “When the experience involves threats to our ego, it can cause us to be hostile and mean to others,” Ryan explains.

Read more here.

Link to the abstract and paper: Competence-impeding electronic games and players’ aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.