Science! Video Game Violence Makes You More Sensitive

Illustration for article titled Science! Video Game Violence Makes You More Sensitive

After this thing the other week here’s some actual science proving actual things. Specifically: “’immoral’ virtual behaviors in a video game can lead to increased moral sensitivity”.

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK.

You can read the full abstract (via MCV/Polygon) below but the short version is that scientists across New York, Michigan and Texas universities tested gamers after playing a video game (in this case actually Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis) and found them more ‘morally sensitive’ and prone to guilt. It backs up previous research making similar conclusions and argues that games could have ‘prosocial consequences’.

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“Several researchers have demonstrated that the virtual behaviors committed in a video game can elicit feelings of guilt. Researchers have proposed that such guilt could have prosocial consequences. However, this proposition has not been supported with empirical evidence. The current study examined this issue in a 2×2 (video game play vs. real world recollection×guilt vs. control) experiment. Participants were first randomly assigned to either play a video game or complete a memory recall task. Next, participants were randomly assigned to either a guilt-inducing condition (game play as a terrorist/recall of acts that induce guilt) or a control condition (game play as a UN soldier/recall of acts that do not induce guilt). Results of the study indicate several important findings. First, the current results replicate previous research indicating that immoral virtual behaviors are capable of eliciting guilt. Second, and more importantly, the guilt elicited by game play led to intuition-specific increases in the salience of violated moral foundations. These findings indicate that committing “immoral” virtual behaviors in a video game can lead to increased moral sensitivity of the player. The potential prosocial benefits of these findings are discussed.”


Illustration for article titled Science! Video Game Violence Makes You More Sensitive
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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles. Follow them on @Kotaku_UK.

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DISCUSSION

shippoyasha
Shippoyasha

And this is surprising, how exactly? Gamers knew this since the very earliest days of gaming. Demagogues and soccer moms constantly talking up smack about game escapism is nothing new. Every year, whenever there's some kid who happened to play videogames go on a murderous rampage, the defense will always pin gaming as one of the reasons why the kids went crazy. A convenient scapegoat followed up by demagogues who hate gaming to just pounce on it after they get any type of flimsy 'evidence' to throw against it.

Thanks to the Internet giving voice to everyone, it seems that kind of demagoguery is making a huge comeback.