Not All Video Games Cause Aggressive Behavior. Just the Really Crappy Ones.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - 11:33 AM

Half Life 2 (Valve)

Well if someone had just asked me, I could have told them that - a study has found that video games with frustrating and counter-intuitive controls are more likely to cause aggressive behavior.

Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Rochester took Half-Life 2, one of the most satisfyingly intuitive games ever made (in my opinion), and modified it, turning it into a game of tag rather than a first person shooter. Some users were given a tutorial, and others were simply thrown into the game. Those that did not get the tutorial were much more aggressive after playing. Andrew Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute:

"This need to master the game was far more significant than whether the game contained violent material.

"Players of games without any violent content were still feeling pretty aggressive if they hadn't been able to master the controls or progress through the levels at the end of the session."

Personally, I can imagine myself much more wound up and aggressive after a game of Flappy Bird than a game of Call of Duty: Ghosts. It makes so much sense, and it's crazy that I've never thought about it before, and that it hasn't been studied until now. I only hope the design lessons of this can be carried over into realms beyond the gaming world. It could cut down on everything from counter-intuitive web design to bad heads up displays in cars.


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Comments [2]

Ceolaf, you should finish the sentence that you were quoting: "The study is not saying that violent content doesn't affect gamers, but our research suggests that people are not drawn to playing violent games in order to feel aggressive.

"Rather, the aggression stems from feeling not in control or incompetent while playing.

"If the structure of a game or the design of the controls thwarts enjoyment, it is this not the violent content that seems to drive feelings of aggression."

Apr. 10 2014 12:00 AM
ceolaf from CT

Let's quote from the linked article from the BBC.

"Co-author Prof Richard Ryan, from the University of Rochester, said: 'The study is not saying that violent content doesn't affect gamers.'"

So, Alex didn't have to read the original research article (just the BBC article) to see that that the research does NOT support the headline of this post.

I hope that he is not responsible for that headline. It makes NPR and WNYC look like a bunch of hacks.

Apr. 09 2014 02:47 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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