[LINK] Do adolescents prefer violent video games? (Independent)
Wed, 13 Sep 2000 17:45:13 +1000 (EST)
An article from The Independent (UK) about kids, violent video games
and their effects from a from a talk given at the British
Psychological Society Conference at Nottingham Trent University.
Do adolescents prefer violent video games?
>From a talk given at the British Psychological Society Conference at
Nottingham Trent University
11 September 2000
Since their emergence in the 1970s, video games have evolved in line
with progressive developments in technology. The impact and success
of video games should not be underestimated. For example, in 1993 it
was estimated that, globally, games revenue exceeded $10bn.
It is broadly accepted that the majority of game players are young,
not least by the games industry which caters, almost exclusively, for
a younger age range. A 1997 survey showed that more than 75 per cent
of a large sample of 11- to 16-year-olds played video games on a
daily basis for between one and one-and-a-half hours. Thus it appears
that video games have become firmly embedded within popular youth
Given that they have a well-established role in the entertainment
industry, it is surprising that they have received relatively little
attention from the research community. At present there is only a
limited body of research on video-game effects. Experimental studies
examining the effects of video- game play on aggression have tended
to focus on either very young children or adult samples.
Consequently, research with adolescent game-players is virtually
non-existent and evidence relating to video-game effects in this age
group represents a significant gap in the psychological research
My paper outlines the findings of two studies carried out among 12-
to 16-year-olds. The first study examined which features of
video-game play predict game enjoyment. A number of important aspects
of video-game play were identified: the graphics, story line,
violence, and the level of difficulty. The most important predictors
of game enjoyment were excitement and playability.
However, more interestingly, game violence was one of the poorest
predictors of game enjoyment. This finding helps to dispel the myth
that only violent games are enjoyable. Thus, given that the majority
of games contain violence, it appears that their popularity is more
likely to be a result of limited choice than game players showing a
genuine preference for violent game play.
My second study examined short-term effects of violent video-game
play on feelings of hostility, anger and anxiety in 12- to
16-year-olds. A violent martial-arts game and non-violent racing game
were selected for the experiment. These differed significantly in
violent content but were accurately matched on all the other
important game dimensions.
Prior to game play, the participants rated their mood on a number of
dimensions, including hostility, anger and anxiety, before being
randomly assigned to play either a violent or non-violent video game
for 40 minutes. Immediately after game play, they were asked to
report how they were feeling for a second time in order to analyse
changes in mood state that were elicited by game play.
The results showed that hostility, anger and anxiety were
significantly enhanced following violent video-game play compared to
non-violent video game play. In addition, however, there was some
(though weaker) evidence that the non-violent video game also
enhanced hostility in the game-players.
Thus, while game violence does seem to enhance aggression-related
mood states, alterations in mood after game play cannot be accounted
for, solely, as a function of the violent content. Other aspects of
game play that have the capacity to induce hostility in the player
need to be explored. One likely possibility is that high game pace
may increase arousal in players which is then subjectively labelled
In conclusion, my research provides some evidence that violent video-
game play can elicit short-term effects on aggression-related mood
states in the adolescent video-game player. However, these effects
cannot be explained as being caused solely by violent content in
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