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Video Racing Games May Spur Risky Driving 428

Posted by Hemos
from the get-out-of-my-way dept.
kiwimate writes "A study concludes that people who play car racing games may be more likely to take risks and drive aggressively when driving in real life. According to the article, "The study appeared in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, published by the American Psychological Association"." Just because after I play Grand Theft Auto I want to ram other cars does not mean I'm a worse driver. Honest.
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Video Racing Games May Spur Risky Driving

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  • Arrg! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:52AM (#18402065)
    This is a pretty stupid assertion.

    Wouldn't the people most likely to enjoy this genre be predisposed to this behaviour?

    Why don't these "researchers" understand the importance of self-selection?!?
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:52AM (#18402067)
    And who, according to insurance companies, is the riskiest group? Teenage boys.

    Next study! People who date teenage girls are risky drivers!
  • by Thaelon (250687) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:52AM (#18402071)
    People who play racing car games may be more likely to be seagulls.
  • Makes me careful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:52AM (#18402077)

    Crashing constantly in GTA actually makes me more careful by fear of having as many accidents as in GTA

  • Say it with me (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sixteenvolt (202302) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:53AM (#18402095) Homepage
    Say it with me: Correlation does not imply causation.
  • In related news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordEd (840443) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:53AM (#18402103)
    watching 'care bears' for an extended period of time will make you a more caring and sensitive person.

    Any time i see the 'video games made me do it' excuse, I think that the appropriate sentence should be forced to watch 'Barney' for an entire month. Since the person is so easily influenced, this should work perfectly for rehabilitation.
  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cougem (734635) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:54AM (#18402105)
    People who like to drive cars really bloody quickly and dangerously, surprisingly, also like to play computer games where they can drive cars really bloody quickly and dangerously. Other people on the otherhand, who are less interested in killing themselves in flashy cars, prefer other types of games. Sounds a bit like reverse causation? Really should be a cohort study.
  • by Applekid (993327) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:56AM (#18402143)
    It's a trick. Since a third of all console owners are adults [slashdot.org] now the auto insurance I'm required to have by state law can happily up my premiums because I own a console.

    One part I don't miss about being a stupid teenager is the insurance premiums.
  • It's all about GTA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:57AM (#18402165)
    I played GTA pretty seriously for awhile. The sense of freedom was amazing.

    When I first played (and when my wife first played), we tried to obey the traffic laws and stay in the proper lane. After realizing how pointless that was, we were driving on sidewalks, ignoring pedestrians, and laughing with glee when running red lights.

    Your brain is very good at unlearning old skills and relearning new ones. The catch is that when doing very similar things, it's easy for one set of skills to bleed into another. Switching from throwing a whiffle ball to a softball requires a period of adjustment. Driving like an insane maniac to a law abiding citizen requires a degree of concentration.

    The vast majority of people will likely use caution, focus, and not have any problem at all. Some folks, however, may have difficulty making the switch. Ban all driving games? That seems a bit silly. Banning cell phones or music in cars would likely have a more concrete effect.
  • In related news... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AVee (557523) <slashdot.avee@org> on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:59AM (#18402185) Homepage
    A study has shown that people who are generally behaving badly in trafic are more likely to enjoy games like GTA. Other research has shown that people who are using have had an X-Ray taken of a leg are more likely to have had a broken leg. This clearly shows the dangers of X-Ray imaging. Statistical Relation != Cause
  • by garcia (6573) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:59AM (#18402195) Homepage
    And who, according to insurance companies, is the riskiest group? Teenage boys.

    I still find myself wanting to take turns faster and change lanes as if no one was really there (no signaling, etc) after playing a few games of Gran Turismo and I'm 28.

    Generally I have more control over this impulse than a 16 to 19 year old might have but still the impulse is there. As the numbers of individuals that still play video games continues to increase into the 20/30 age range it *could* have an effect on the driving styles of those individuals past the "teenage boy risky group" you mention.
  • by ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:00PM (#18402207)

    We could live in a world without excitement. A world in which we are not stimulated or thrilled. A world in which we could only watch movies or play games approved by the Flanders family of the Simpsons. There will be unbalanced people who will be inspired by what they watch. So instead of collecting cat skulls, they pretend they're the hero of GTA. Or Manhunt. Or Barbie Horse Adventures.

    Note that they found a correlation between driving fast and people who play racing games. Maybe people who like to drive fast can't drive as fast as they want, so they pop in a racing game simulater. As far as the shooter game comment, most young men are aggressive to one extent or another. If someone blows off some steam by playing Halo 3, I would prefer that to them blowing off someone's head in real life.

  • Lies. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ikyaat (764422) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:02PM (#18402239) Homepage
    I'm a better driver after I play video games. I learned 90% of what I know about cars from Gran Turismo 3. I can see the lines of a turn, can apply the use of braking and acceleration better, and I am better at avoiding other drivers and retaining awareness of my surroundings. I think bad drivers should play more racing simulators and stop doing so many studies.
  • by Lightwarrior (73124) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:07PM (#18402313) Journal
    "The researchers then studied 68 men and found those who played even one racing game took more risks afterward in traffic situations on a computer simulator than those who played another type of game."

    Oh man - you mean, after playing a game where you're rewarded for driving recklessly, the same gamers drove a little recklessly IN ANOTHER GAME?

    SHOCKING.

    The end conclusion is totally nonsensical.

    "The question of age restrictions, legally or voluntary, should be discussed not only for "shooter" games but also for [racing] games, which have an impact on traffic safety," Kubitzki said.

    The research didn't prove that. Correlation != Causality. Why do so many researchers have a problem with this?

  • Re:Arrg! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:10PM (#18402341)
    Why don't these "researchers" understand the importance of self-selection?!?

    Silly consumer. The purpose of studies is to support your hypothesis, not find facts!
  • Re:Say it with me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonin (471268) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:14PM (#18402393)
    Say it with me: RTFA.

    The article didn't just study if gamers were more likely to agressively drive. They also used individuals who were not games and had them play either a race car game or a control game. Those playing the race car game had more risky behavior in a more formal driving simulator than those who played the control game.

    Granted not a perfect study, but there is some causation.
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:15PM (#18402403)
    I don't know why GTA is always mentioned when somebody talks about games involving cars ...yes it's a driving game, but there's a big difference between driving a car to mow down people and driving a car to win a race. The former is just silly and uses the car as a vehicle (pun intended) to drive (pun intended also) a story or a plot. The latter is, depending on the game, a true test of how driving is supposed to be done, or not done.

    True story, as it just happened a couple of months ago: For the first time in my life my car severely fishtailed on me and without ever having experienced it before in real life, I knew what to do in that I had slammed enough rally cars into the snow in various games like GT4 to know "oh, when the car goes like this, I should do that..." and I translated my controller movements into real turns of the wheel. And it worked! I got out of it and kept going.

    In this case I feel like my time with GT4 made me a better driver because I recognized a situation I had never experienced in real life but had so many times in the game that I was able to "figure it out". I'm not even going to pretend I'm ready to take an Aston-Martin Vanquish out on the Nurenburg, but I get the difference between "real" driving and "fantasy ha-ha no big deal if I crash a $600k car into the wall at 200mph" type.

    Frankly, if I really had a Vanquish, I'd be too nervous about getting it into an accident that I doubt I'd ever leave the garage.
     
  • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:15PM (#18402407) Homepage
    In a driving simulator though, if someone put me in one of those I'd feel no responsibility to drive sensibly since I would have no worries about killing people or dying like you have on real roads. In effect it's just a more boring driving game.
  • by nasch (598556) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:16PM (#18402413)

    The researchers then studied 68 men and found those who played even one racing game took more risks afterward in traffic situations on a computer simulator than those who played another type of game.
    Not very compelling to me. They find correlation (which is useless without causation), then find that people who play a racing game then drive more aggressively in another car driving game. Yawn. I'm not saying they're definitely wrong, I'm saying they've failed to convince me. Until they can show causation with actual driving, or a correlation between "thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking" and actual driving behavior, I don't think they're finished.
  • Re:Say it with me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EJSully (998820) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:26PM (#18402547)
    But isn't the simulator just another video game?
  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:33PM (#18402647)
    Say it with me: Correlation does not imply causation.

    Yes, it does!

    What it doesn't do is prove causation. Of course it implies causation. Then you investigate that implication.
  • by paintswithcolour (929954) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:33PM (#18402653)
    Really? The problem I'd have with this is does the brain really collerate holding a controller to driving with a real steering wheel? I guess if you play with a real wheel then there could be some confusion, but to be honest there are so many differences between getting in a real car and playing a video game, I have to manually change gears, have mirrors to check, indicators to turn on....

    I can see how playing GTA plants the 'what if...?' seed in my mind...'this traffic is bad, if only I drive on the curb?' But this is no different to thinking 'I could rob this bank...' I wouldn't and I suspect those that do are predisposed to it anyway.

  • in the early 1990s (Score:2, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:36PM (#18402681) Homepage Journal
    there was a period of my life i played doom for hours a day, every day, for months on end (endlessly downloading free mods)

    and, i am an avid gun control advocate. for example, i think the line "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is a hilarious example of propaganda, because it conveniently forgets that a gun is not neutral technology: it is designed with a specific purpose in mind, that enables people to easily express murderous will in a way that without easy access to guns, they would not be able to express

    now some of you might say that this represents an interesting bit of hypocrisy on my part: that i am saying a gun enables evil actions, but a violent video game doesn't

    exactly. tha tis what i am saying. 100%. ill will, violence, is in the heart of every man and woman (and child: study your average toddler for five minutes). therefore, there is nothing a violent videogame can impart upon a person that is not already there. a violent videogame can not enable someone to think something that they already had thought of before. violent rage and anger is violent rage and anger. it is original sin. we are not born vessels of purity that are corrupted. we are born screaming shit flinging demons (again: study your avergae toddler) that is molded into cilivized human beings. media cannot ENABLE you to violence, but it can enable the HARMLESS RELEASE of violence that already exists in you. it's not like suddenly people started commiting crimes they had never thought of before because of a videogame. are you telling me ancient rome was populated by video game addicts? blamign violent media for the state of the world is a classic bullshit "the devil made me do it" effort at avoiding personal responsibility

    meanwhile, a gun is a bit of technology with a specific purpose: to kill people. the argument that a gun is neutral, without intent, is false: millions of hours of mental effort and design went into making a tool that, in your hand, is ideally designed for point and click murder. that has real meaning as to the blameability of a gun

    this is real life, not fantasy we're talking about now. most people can tell the difference

    now technology IS neutral. something like chemistry, or physics, is neutral. for example, E=MC2 is neutral technology. what does it mean? it doesn't mean anything until applied. a nuclear power plant? not neutral, a quantifiable good. a neutron bomb? not neutral, a quantifiable evil

    likewise with guns: a blasting cap is a quantifiable good: it is meant, it is designed, for the purpose of shaping hills for highways, for example. what is a gun meant for, designed for? the underlying chemistry for a blasting cap and a gun is the same, and is neutral. and of course you can use a blasting cap to kill someone, or use a gun to do good: compete in target practice, announce the start of a race, etc. but these examples are ludicrous: you can't argue that these esoteric uses have any bearing on what 99.999% of guns or blasting caps are INTENDED for

    INTENT. it's a magic word. it changes the argument

    so yes, guns kill people. and if you parse my words above, i am not destroying the concept of personal responsibility by saying that: if you play violent videogames for 10 months straight, and go out and kill someone, you, and YOU ALONE, are responsible. because fantasy, media, cannot enable you to do something in real life. actually, the opposite: it can enable the harmless release in fantasy of pent up energies that might be imparted on someone else in real life. violent videogames are catharsis, a bleeding of ill will that already exists in us, each of us. a violent videogame can NEVER impart into someone a murderous will in real life that would not exist had the videogame not existed. to say it can, is to buy the lame excuses of a criminal

    but, in real life, if you had a piece of technology which made it easier to express your ill will? that has real meaning. guns ENABLE evil. they are DESIGNED to be efficient killing machines. if you honest
  • Re:Arrg! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fbjon (692006) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:46PM (#18402821) Homepage Journal
    But doesn't that just mean that the formal driving sim was seen more as a game, instead of a sim? I.e. the "it's only a game" though bleeds into the normally serious situation. They should do real-life driving for comparison instead.
  • It's also a bullshit concept. No driving simulator is like the real thing because none of them can correctly implement the "butt-o-meter" (or as I like to call it, the "butt dyno") that you use while driving. It works like this: The force on your ass (and the rest of you, but one of the best places to feel it is at the interface of seat and ass) informs you as to how much force you're putting on your tires. That tells you how much traction you have available. This is unavailable in driving simulators. Some try to emulate it by rolling the cockpit but that doesn't accurately stimulate your inner ear and frankly the end result is disorienting. You can do this pretty convincingly for an aircraft with little more than pitch and roll, but it just doesn't work for a car. It's hard enough to accurately judge your speed when for example you leave the freeway after hours of driving on it and drive around on surface streets. It's vastly harder to accurately judge your speed when you stop playing one driving game and play another, and have only the wheel's force feedback and the tire squealing noises (which are ALWAYS unrealistic, can you imagine the computations needed to produce them from a physics standpoint?) to guide you.
  • Re:huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tha_mink (518151) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:57PM (#18402945)

    I think that this is quite plausible; however, it's not the law. I actually drive SLOWER than I did before I became a Gran Turismo junkie, but it really taught me to follow a line, to preload, etc etc. I think a lot more about what the suspension is doing, for example, when I make a turn than I did before.
    Perhaps it's the other way around. Perhaps people who are dangerous drivers are attracted to games that allow one to be a dangerous driver? It seems pretty obvious to me. I love how people fail to see the fact that it COULD work the other way around when trying to link video game behavior to real life behavior. Why can't it be that, if you like a certain thing in life, you might seek that thing out in a game instead of the game affecting your life?
  • Re:Arrg! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ContractualObligatio (850987) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:58PM (#18403705)

    The problem is, in essence you're suggesting that the only experimental result you'd trust is if someone actually conducted an experiment intended to get guys hyped on adrenaline and subsequently injuring / killing people in real life driving! Apart from the clear ethical problems with an experiment that requires risks for non-participants, you can also be practical and take on board the fact that experiments in simulated environments can bring useful and indeed valid results.

    For example, even a risk taking person would lock down their instincts for dangerous driving if they knew were being watched, so conducting the experiment "in real life" also has as big a flaw. In this case of identifying causes for dangerous driving, it could even be more dangerous to get a false negative.

    The mistake in this experiment is the tautology between the 2nd and 3rd studies. In the second, they established that racing games (as compared to "neutral" games) make people more disposed towards risk, as indicated by various accepted symptoms. If you accept that result, then what they found in study free could be summarised as:

    "People more disposed to take risk at a given moment in time, are more likely to take risks while driving"

    Can I get a chorus of "No shit, Sherlock!" ?

    Surely a more useful experiment would be to compare enter the simulator having taken a number of activities known to get your blood pumping: after playing racing games, playing other games shown to get people "hyped" rather than "neutral", to other things like playing competitive sports, arguing high pressure lawsuits in the court house, trying to ignore the neighbours having excessively loud sex, etc? I mean, what if the "neutral" games are actually relaxing?

    I drive differently according to my mood, and most everyone does no matter your self-control. And I wouldn't find it too difficult to believe that a bunch of teen age guys are more likely to do something stupid driving-wise after just trying to beat each other on the virtual race track. But at the end of the day, if all they've found is that playing racing games is just as dangerous as the frustration having to fill in your tax forms, what's the conclusion? Forbid high powered lawyers driving home after winning a case? Making meditation a legal requirement prior to getting behind the wheel?

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:01PM (#18403751) Homepage

    Honestly, seriously: there was a moment for me when, after playing a whole lot of GTA3, I was driving around and found myself thinking, "I'm tired of this car. I should go get that guy's car." Not very consciously, I mean. I didn't literally think those words I just typed, but I was driving, saw a nicer car than the one I was driving, and for a split second it went through my head that I should pull him over, yank him the driver out of his car, and drive away leaving my own car behind.

    Of course, I didn't actually *do* anything. I just laughed a little to myself, thought, "that's awesome" and kept driving.

    I'm not in favor of censoring video games or anything. You don't really know what activities are going to do for people. Maybe playing football would make one guy feel accustomed to violence and more likely to hit someone, while it might give another guy some sort of an outlet which prevents him from being violent. The government shouldn't take over responsibility for deciding which experiences are appropriate for people to have.

    On the other hand, let's not pretend that this stuff has no effect. If I play solitaire enough, my mind starts sorting visual information differently. After playing Zelda for a long time, I look at the world differently. It's all having an effect, and you know, maybe sometimes some games have a bad effect on a person's psyche. So, if you're a parent of a teenager who you think can't handle driving safely after playing GTA, don't let them play GTA. Better yet, just don't let them drive at all. I'll tell you something, we are far too insistent that people drive everywhere, even when they're bad drivers, and it's bad all around.

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