According to new research, competitiveness in video games may be a characteristic that influences aggression on users who play them.
Researchers found after analyzing a series of experiments in which video games were matched on competitiveness, difficulty, and pace of action that video game violence was not the only thing that attributed to aggressive behavior.
According to the research, more competitive games produced greater levels of aggressive behavior than less competitive games.
The study in one experiment consisted of 42 college students who played one of two video games, “Conan” or “Fuel”, for 12 minutes. The game “Conan” is a violent game in which the main character battles for surviving using swords and axes, while “Fuel” is a nonviolent racing game.
Both games in the study were rated evenly in terms of competitiveness, difficulty and pace of action, but differently in terms of violence. After participants finished playing the game, they were told they were going to take part in a separate food tasting study.
The participants had to make up a cup of hot sauce for a “taster” who they were told did not particularly like hot or spicy food. The participants could then choose from one of four different hot sauces, from least hot to most hot.
The authors found that there was no significant difference in the intensity and amount of the hot sauces prepared by the participants who played “Conan” and those who played “Fuel”. They said that video game violence alone was not sufficient to elevate aggressive behavior.
The second study included 60 college students who played four video games: “Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe”, “Left 4 Dead 2”, “Marble Blast Ultra” and “Fuel”. Each game represented a different level of competitiveness, difficulty, pace of action or violence.
The 60 students in this study also completed the same hot sauce taste test from the first study. Electrocardiograms measured the participants’ heart rates before and during video game play.
Paul J.C. Adachi, M.A., a PhD candidate at Brock University in Canada and lead author of the study, said that students who played the highly competitive games “Fuel” and “Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe” on average prepared significantly hotter sauce than participants who played “Marble Blast Ultra” and “Left 4 Dead 2,” the least competitive games.
“These findings suggest that the level of competitiveness in video games is an important factor in the relation between video games and aggressive behavior, with highly competitive games leading to greater elevations in aggression than less competitive games,” wrote Adachi.
The new research was published by the American Psychological Association in their journal Psychology of Violence.
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