Modern Warfare: Video Game Playing and Posttraumatic Symptoms in Veterans

J Trauma Stress. 2017 Apr;30(2):182-185. doi: 10.1002/jts.22172. Epub 2017 Apr 3.


Many of the current generation of veterans grew up with video games, including military first-person shooter (MFPS) video games. In MFPS games, players take the role of soldiers engaged in combat in environments modeled on real-life warzones. Exposure to trauma-congruent game content may either serve to exacerbate or to ameliorate posttraumatic symptoms. The current study examined the relationship between MFPS and other shooter video game playing and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among current and former members of the military (N = 111). Results indicated that video game play was very common, and 41.4% of participants reported playing MFPS or other shooter games (shooter players group). The shooter players group reported higher levels of PTSD symptoms than participants who did not play any video or shooter games (nonshooter/nonplayers group; d = 0.44); however, playing shooter games was not predictive of PTSD symptoms after accounting for personality, combat exposure, and social support variables. This may indicate that the same psychosocial factors predict both PTSD and shooter video game play. Although veterans may benefit from the development and use of clinical applications of video games in PTSD treatment, clinical attention should continue to focus on established psychosocial predictors of PTSD symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Video Games / statistics & numerical data
  • Warfare*