Have studies been wrong about video game violence and Aggression?
New research suggests other factors are at work behind feelings of violence from video games.
Psychologists have long debated the impact violent video games have among gamers. The popular reasoning says that the higher the violence level of the game, the more it promotes aggression among gamers.
However, a new joint research by the University of Oxford and the University of Rochester in the US suggests that game mechanics might produce more aggression than the video game’s content.
To answer their question, the researchers created a less violent version of the popular shooting game Half-Life 2, which asks players to ‘tag’ foes instead of shoot them. This version was tested with the original, violent version. The twist was that only some of the participants were briefed on the controls and game mechanics.
The researchers concluded that those who did not receive a tutorial on the controls felt less competent and more aggressive. Those who played the more violent versions did not necessarily register the same feelings.
Oxford Internet Institute researcher Dr Andrew Przybylski explained that ‘If players feel thwarted by the controls or the design of the game, they can wind up feeling aggressive.
‘The need to master the game was far more significant than whether the game contained violent material.’
In addition, Przybylski noted that non-violent games still led to increased gamer aggression if the gamer cannot master the controls.
British video games trade body Tiga praised the study, saying that it introduced a variation into existing video game and aggression research that may be important among game developers when designing game mechanics and processes.
The researchers however said that more study is needed to prove this point and to see how video games affect gamers in the long run.