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Video Game Conditioning Spills Over Into Real Life 232

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the here-we-go-again dept.
doug141 writes "Lessons learned in video games may transcend computers, PlayStations and Wiis. New research suggests that virtual worlds sway real-life choices. Twenty-two volunteers who played a cycling game learned to associate one team's jersey with a good flavored drink and another team's jersey with a bad flavored drink. Days later, 3/4 of the subjects avoided the same jersey in a real-world test. Marketers and lawyers will take note."
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Video Game Conditioning Spills Over Into Real Life

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    did one jersey say "coke" and the other "pepsi?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by DanTheStone (1212500)
      The jerseys appear to be unrelated to real corporate logos. And if anyone's actually wondering, one drink was juice and the other was salty tea. After reading the article, I'm curious what three-quarters of 22 people is.
  • Uhh... huh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by bistromath007 (1253428) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:21PM (#26641033)
    I can really only conceive of this as somebody trying to drink a cycling team's jersey that has been stuffed into a glass with the subtitle "PIC UNRELATED"
    • Since XBox was missing from the summery, does it mean that no one believes anything Microsoft says anymore? For shame.

    • by lgw (121541)

      Here's a product placement approach I hadn't thought of: sell ad space on the side of the most annoying monster in the game, or on the walls of some frustrating, repetitive area. Companies can pay to associate their competition's logo with the parts of your game that suck!

  • Weird Assumptions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:27PM (#26641127) Homepage Journal

    It seems very strange to suppose that intentionally creating an association between visual and taste stimuli would magically not work, just because a video game is involved.

    I mean, people have been learning things on television screens for decades. And projection screens for decades before that. What on Earth is surprising, or even interesting, about showing that putting a game controller in a person's hand doesn't thwart this method of learning?

    -Peter

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:58PM (#26641645)

      I think the assumption here is that the gamer will identify with the product if it is associated with his 'team' in the game. Having the same advertising for two products, one associated with your team and another associated with the enemy makes you want the one associated with the 'good guys' more. Essentially, they're saying that connecting your product with the enemy will actually weaken its percieved value.

      I suspect the army already knew this (or at least suspected it, since it is pretty logical). Look at the America's Army game they put out and you see a good example. No matter which side you are on, you are always drawn as a US soldier and the enemy is always drawn as a terrorist, even if you switch sides in the middle of a fight.

      • I on the other hand, tend to like the winning team. When I was little, I remember playing a Checkers Video game where you were always red and the enemy was always black. Well... at the time, I sucked at Checkers and black always won. I thought they had some kind of advantage... that black was intrinsically better.

        If every time you play America's Army, your enemies (terrorists) win... you might start wishing you could play as the Terrorists so that you might start winning more.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ioldanach (88584)

        Look at the America's Army game they put out and you see a good example. No matter which side you are on, you are always drawn as a US soldier and the enemy is always drawn as a terrorist, even if you switch sides in the middle of a fight.

        Which seems pretty accurate to me, when you switch sides, you're probably going to perceive your new side well and the other side as terrorists.

      • by sarahbau (692647)

        Did they weaken its perceived value by connecting it to the enemy or making it salty tea? If they switched the drinks and made it so you got a shot of salty tea when your team mates passed you, and a shot of juice when an "enemy" passed you, would they have had the same results?

        Did people choose the seats with the towels associated with their team because the juice tasted better, or because it was their team? Also, I'm not a statistics expert, but is 3/4 of such a small sample size even statistically signif

      • and the terrorists are always drinking Pepsi!

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        I think the assumption here is that the gamer will identify with the product if it is associated with his 'team' in the game. Having the same advertising for two products, one associated with your team and another associated with the enemy makes you want the one associated with the 'good guys' more.

        And this, folks, is perhaps the single best explanation of what's wrong with two-party politics. Listen closely to *any* political commentary in the USA, and you'll see this effect at work. Arguments become talki

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ConceptJunkie (24823)

          And this, folks, is perhaps the single best explanation of what's wrong with two-party politics. Listen closely to *any* political commentary in the USA, and you'll see this effect at work. Arguments become talking points about positioning sides rather than the merits of the arguments.

          You sound like one of those God-hating, baby-killing, pot-smoking, terrorist-appeasing liberal Democrats.

    • by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:58PM (#26641647)
      What they really need to do is see if people can learn things done -entirely- within Video Games.

      Like what if in a Pepsi/Coke video game, Coke gives you Health and Pepsi hurts you... would these people start preferring Coke over Pepsi? Or maybe there would be some reverse psychology where since people -can't- have Pepsi in the game world, they will intrinsically want it more in the real world.

      The mind is complicated, but I'm sure that, yes, connections are formed when playing video games just as they are anywhere else.
      • by Korin43 (881732)
        I think that would be too obvious. If I wanted to do Coke marketing in a game, I'd make Pepsi restore health, but Coke restore more. Of course, people tend to be easier to manipulate that I think, so yours would probably work too..
        • It wouldn't have to be nearly so obvious (not to mention I'm sure Pepsi would object to this). It could be as subtle as having a Coke advert right next to your team's bench in an NFL game.

      • by kabocox (199019)

        Like what if in a Pepsi/Coke video game, Coke gives you Health and Pepsi hurts you... would these people start preferring Coke over Pepsi? Or maybe there would be some reverse psychology where since people -can't- have Pepsi in the game world, they will intrinsically want it more in the real world.

        If the default medical unit stopped being a white box with a red cross on it and started being a product logo, I'd expect instant health stat improvements if I took it! I'd get pissed if I didn't get the health st

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PaganRitual (551879)

      Surely if there is one thing that every gamer of more than a few years (months? weeks?) has learnt is that everything is different when video games are involved.

      Games that require quick reflexes can't don't improve those reflexes, but a sport that requires quick reflexes can improve them. Games that require strategic thinking won't improve your abilities in this area, but reading a book on war will help your strategic thinking. Playing games as a hobby and having background knowledge of genres or developers

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:14PM (#26646457)

      It seems very strange to suppose that intentionally creating an association between visual and taste stimuli would magically not work, just because a video game is involved.

      And, yet, when violence is involved everyone on this site strongly presumes that there is absolutely no link between stimuli that rewards violent or aggressive behavior and real life aggression. Not a smidgen, not an amount that almost all sane people can control and thus not an amount that has marginal effect on society. None.

      'Cause everybody knows that the issue is all about evil politicians and busybodies wanting to control your life. The subject is always black and white -- never gray.

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:28PM (#26641143)
    This has nothing to do with "lessons learned from video games" and says everything about the power of marketing.
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:42PM (#26641407)

      This has nothing to do with "lessons learned from video games" and says everything about the power of marketing.

      "Every time a dog salivates, a behaviorist must ring a bell"

    • This has nothing to do with "lessons learned from video games" and says everything about the power of conditioning.

      FTFY.

      Also, this is nothing new. As another poster has pointed out, the result says "Conditioning works. Stick a game controller in someone's hands. Conditioning still works."

      A former girlfriend of mine was studying Marketing Economy, and I peeked in her textbooks. They had the law of effect (essentially "conditioning works") stated in them. I don't know in how much detail they explained it, though.

      Unless you can explain to me what they marketing part of the study is, I'll prefer to say the conclusion a

      • You said it for me...marketing uses conditioning because conditioning works. For this example, marketing = conditioning. Besides, as someone with an advanced degree in cognition, I didn't really want to bore everyone with mundane discussions of my career field ;-)
        • I didn't really want to bore everyone with mundane discussions of my career field ;-)

          This is news for nerds. It wouldn't be boring to us, and we value precision.

          Know and conform to the values of your peer group. Didn't you learn that in high school? :p

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by King_TJ (85913)

      Yep... If you *really* want an eye-opening look at the "science of marketing" - check out the PBS Frontline series, "The Persuaders".

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/view/ [pbs.org]

      Worrying about the potential for some video game to influence a person's preferred choice of drink or team jersey will seem trivial by comparison.

  • not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jm4 (1137329) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:28PM (#26641153)
    The shouldn't come as any surprise. Computer simulations are routinely used for training and conditioning in a variety of situations from flight training to military applications.
  • Jersey... (Score:5, Funny)

    by darkdaedra (1061330) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:29PM (#26641169)
    I've avoided Jersey all my life. No news there.
  • Blindingly obvious? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:31PM (#26641207) Homepage

    Of course we're affected by all media around us. Be it games, movies, advertising, written, spoken, everything. Our brains are wired to pick up as much information as possible in order to make wiser choices.

    But behavioral preference and turning people into something is not the same thing. I personally think violent movies are just as bad/harmless as violent games. But surely the think-of-the-children zealots will keep doing their thing, just like they always have...

  • Sample Size? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChinggisK (1133009) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:31PM (#26641215)

    Twenty-two volunteers who played a cycling game

    Good to see they're using a nice large group of test subjects.

    • by SQLGuru (980662) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:45PM (#26641445) Journal

      That's all of the people that would actually PLAY a cycling game. Now, if you mounted lasers on the handlebars......

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by internerdj (1319281)
        I also would wager it closely resembles the attendence count of the psych 101 class taught by the person running the experiment.
    • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker&gnu,org> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:35PM (#26642137) Homepage

      <sarcasm>Good to see they're using a nice large group of test subjects.</sarcasm>

      The article is here: http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/reprint/29/4/1046.pdf [jneurosci.org]

      Could you please point to which of their inferences you think breaks down because of statistical problems caused by the sample size?

      If no such problem exists, the sample size was fine.

      I recall reading a set of guidelines for writing psych papers (discussing and critiquing an article). They said quite explicitly that complaining about sample size was about the cheapest shot available, so don't do it unless you can really back it up.

      To the mods who think my parent is insightful: could you please spell out to me what the insight is? Because I haven't seen any problems with the sample size, only an unsubstantiated claim.

      • Funny, I read this and thought:

        "His inability to substantiate the claim may be due to the sample size."

        which made your gripe sound like defensive whining to me

        I'm just sayin, ya know?

        • I'm just sayin, ya know?

          What you're saying is that you don't want to be bothered to (a) read the article and (b) calculate for yourself whether or not the sample size is large enough to determine significance of the claimed effect, so you're going to go with your gut feeling rather than crunching the numbers. And then tell people who point this out that they're just "defensive whiners." Classy.

        • "His inability to substantiate the claim may be due to the sample size."

          Huh? His (parent(n)s) inability to substantiate the (implicit) claim that the sample size was too small may be due to the sample size?

          That is, the sample size is just fine (like I suggested it might be)? And then you say that my post is a defensive whine?

          *headsplode*

      • To the mods who think my parent is insightful: could you please spell out to me what the insight is?

        The "insight" exists in the minds of people who don't want to put forth the intellectual effort to understand sample size and power calculations, and who find the misuse of statistical jargon convenient to dismiss study results that make them uncomfortable. The authors could have used just about any sample size and we'd still see the same comment ... unless it was so large that nobody could reasonably quibbl

  • misleading (Score:4, Informative)

    by danlip (737336) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:31PM (#26641221)
    Even though they were playing a video game they were being given real-life swigs of a drink while they played. So what the subjects were actually doing was building an association between a real-life experience and an image on the screen - which is completely different from building an association from nothing but a video game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) *

      How is this different from going to a live game and drinking a certain brand of beer while you're in the stadium??

      As others have pointed out, the world is full of stuff we associate that way. Video games are hardly unique.

      • How is this different from going to a live game and drinking a certain brand of beer while you're in the stadium??

        I don't know, but I'd like to sign up to participate in your study.

    • Even though they were playing a video game they were being given real-life swigs of a drink while they played. So what the subjects were actually doing was building an association between a real-life experience and an image on the screen - which is completely different from building an association from nothing but a video game.

      Precisely my take on this. The survey was a major fail... the researchers were artificially creating a linkage between the virtual and real worlds. It doesn't follow that a video game which doesn't directly affect the real world will create a similar linkage.

      Here's an idea for a much better study: Make a team-based, highly competitive game (e.g. first person shooter). For the follow-up, once they're hooked up to the brain monitor, have someone wearing either the friendly or opposing team's uniform unexpecte

      • FWIW, I should probably mention that this idea was partially inspired by the America's Army video game: irregardless of the team a player chooses to join, his or her teammates are skinned in U.S. uniforms and carry U.S.-issued weapons; opponents wear contrasting uniforms and carry AKs, RPKs, and such.

        • irregardless, eh? Surely thats unpossible?
    • Yes, they were given real sips of drinks.

      So what? That's just a way to tap into a basic reward system.

      If you play a game and the reward is the "you win" screen in the game, the reward is still rewarding.

      The important part in conditioning is that a particular stimulus is followed by a reward.

  • News Flash:

    Stimuli we are exposed to repeatedly causes automatic responses, research lead by Pavlov and his salivating dogs, more at 11.

    How should we expect video games to be any different?

    Most people have trouble distinguishing fantasty from real life until they are in their early teens, and most gaming geeks never really grow up.

    • by psnyder (1326089)
      Actually, a normal human being begins to be able to distinguish fantasy from reality at 6 yrs of age. Before that they take everything literally unless you tell them otherwise (which is why the "I got your nose!" game works so well).

      Before 6, if you tell them bears live in the forest and dragons live in caves, they make no distinction. This is why many developmental psychologists suggest avoiding fantasy before 6.

      At around 6 (give or take), their brain chemistry begins to change and they glide into a
  • No more of this marketing research bullshit. Haven't you guys done enough? Can I at least play my video games without being bombarded by more stupid ads and product placements?
    • by Spatial (1235392)
      No. By the way here's an expansion pack containing the other half of the game you bought, only 20 dollars!
    • TV and the internet are merging very rapidly. Games and advertising will inevitably merge in that combined format. The advertising will be crude at first (like it was at the dawn of TV and radio), but it will become more and more refined with time. The targeting will become way more refined than TV or radio has become because the consumer will be interactively providing the advertiser(s) with huge amounts of data regarding the effectiveness of the advertising.

      These games have the potential to be very sed

  • by aepervius (535155) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:37PM (#26641297)
    I mean, should we not say "parent take notes?", when we here on slashdot keep saying people to pay attention to what kid plays ? Or even why not buyer-beware or "everybody should pay attention" or whatever ? Why the immediate jump to marketing (consumerism) and lawyer (sue-happy) ? Or could you at least add an emoticon if you were sarcastic ?
  • For years after playing Doom a lot* the sound of a chainsaw starting up would make me flinch a little.

    [*: Too much, apparently.]

  • GTA (Score:5, Informative)

    by damonlab (931917) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:48PM (#26641489)
    Grand Theft Auto taught me that if you shoot the hooker, you can get your money back.
    • Re:GTA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:11PM (#26641829) Homepage Journal
      Well, I don't think I've ever done that in GTA. As a matter of fact, I pretty much try not to hurt anybody in that game unless the progress in the game demands it, such as a rampage forcing you to kill gang members and so forth.
      I HAVE learned stuff from games like Gran Turismo. I now find myself finding and driving the perfect line for a corner, even though I am not racing but driving within the speed limit. Of course, unlike in Gran Turismo, if there are lanes on the road, I won't go out of my lane to make the perfect turn. Although in real life, unlike in Gran Turismo, other cars would probably give up their lane if they saw you coming. In Gran Turismo, opponent cars absolutely WILL NOT BUDGE from the perfect line.
      • Of course, unlike in Gran Turismo, if there are lanes on the road, I won't go out of my lane to make the perfect turn.

        If there's no other traffic, I sometimes will... ;)

    • by teslar (706653)
      I certainly hope you didn't give any strange ideas to the people who modded that informative.... ;)
    • Ah, that's nothing. Pac-man (*munch* *munch*) taught me to (*munch* *munch*) eat any old thing I find (*munch* *munch*) lying around except a ghost. And, if I (*munch* *munch*) see a ghost, special (*munch* *munch*) glowing "food" will help save me (*munch* *munch*) from them. (*munch* *munch*)

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:51PM (#26641561)

    On the other hand, my eye-hand coordination often amazes people. And my locational/directional skills are quite good as well. None of the rest of my family can claim either of those.

    In addition, I've learned quite a bit about history, politics, art, language... You name it.

    So yeah, experiencing things makes you learn from them. No big surprise there. But don't go forgetting that learning can be both good and bad.

  • Seriously, if you give someone a glass of shit water every time they see a red jersey in a game, or hear a C chord in a piece of music, or read the world "salubrious", they're going to build up a negative response to that. It doesn't say anything about how games, music, or text condition people.
  • I find that any level of intensive focus on something will eventually bleed over into times when you are not working on it so you still think of it. I know when I studied intensely for tests I would see the formulae every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep for a week after. I drove past a fire station at night and saw the red warning light reflecting against the beige garage doors, strobing on and off, red and then shadowed. "Good light sourcing model," I said to a friend. He agreed and it took us both a

    • You and many others are talking about conditioning. How then do violent video games, like GTA, condition the players? I think it is safe to say that the end result is not making people into murderers. But I believe there must be some conditioning effect. Maybe players end up less respectful of life and others, or also in the case of GTA less respectful of the law and authority. How big is the conditioning effect from violent video games?
  • Subconscious tuning is a known phenomenon and has been known about for ages. The fact it's in a video game proves nothing: the same can happen depending on the TV programme a person is watching, the posters on the walls, or the music they're listening to.
  • What if I like salty tea [recipezaar.com]?

  • Half-life 2 (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:30PM (#26642061)

    I remember after HL2 first came out and I'd been playing it a lot. I was walking through my parking lot at work, a helicopter flew nearby. I found myself unconsciously looking for places to hide and estimating when I could get a good firing angle on it.

  • by Temujin_12 (832986) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:31PM (#26642085)

    I'm tired of the "X/Y/Z doesn't affect me" mantra. Everything affects you.

    Does reading slashdot 12 times a day affect you? Yes.

    Would reading the entire constitution of the US everyday affect you? Yes.

    Does skipping a night of sleep affect you? Yes.

    Does holding down a full time job affect you? Yes.

    Does playing video games affect you? Yes.

    Everything you engage in affects you. It's called being human. It's not a question of whether something affects you, it's a question of whether you are mature enough to recognise HOW it effects you and make appropriate adjustments if necessary.

    The insistence that you are somehow superior to every aspect of life and can only be affected if you allow it is just immature arrogance.

    • by brkello (642429)
      I guess I am smart enough when I read these things to know that people want to know if it is a positive or negative influence and to what degree. I don't think anyone is claiming that they are unaffected...they are claiming they aren't adversely affected. It is implied that when you say something has no affect on you, you mean it didn't alter you significantly. If you saw your mom die, it would affect you. If you saw some random person fake die on TV, it isn't going to affect you. Oh, it might make you
  • i know this isn't quite what the article is getting at, but i found myself conscious of my stance and walking after the first time playing with the wii fit. may not seem like much to many of you, but i was immediately struck at how a seemingly simple piece of technology can have leave a real and lasting impression.

    everything about the wii is just clever from an engineering/programming standpoint. it might not seem like it now, but i bet in 10 years, the wii will be cited as one of the great advancements i

  • 1) Someone turned on a buzz-saw outside, and I immediately hunched down and felt a fear of something dangerous above me. I realized after a moment that the sound was reminiscent of the flying buzz-cutting robots in Half Life 2.

    2) I started a job at a BioScience company, and there is an area with a whole bunch of machines that make a humming sound, like a refrigerator running. One day one of the fluorescent lights on the walls was flickering on and off and I immediately felt that foreboding caution like wa

  • Before I went to Army Basic Training, I had spent hours playing the game "America's Army". Among other features, that game has an extremely accurate simulated shooting range that is almost identical to the real one. (you shoot these green 'pop up' targets that are man-sized)

    In the game, you had to score 'expert' in order to be issued a sniper rifle in online multiplayer battles. So I replayed that part of the game dozens of times in order to finally hit expert.

    Anyways, shooting my real M-16, I found that

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