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Study Finds Gamers Prefer Control, Competence Over Violence 219

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-pixels-bleed dept.
Science News reports on a new study which found that the violence in video games was not a significant contributing factor to players' enjoyment. Instead, the feelings of control and competence the games engendered were closely linked to how fun the players found it. Quoting: "... the researchers extensively modified a popular first-person shooter video game called Half-Life 2 to have less gore. Half the people in a group of 36 male and 65 female college students were instructed to dispatch adversaries as the original game intended, 'in a thoroughly bloody manner,' says Ryan. The other half was instructed to tag enemies with a marker. 'Instead of exploding in blood and dismemberment, they floated gently into the air and went back to base,' Ryan describes. An extensive survey of the two groups showed that the exclusion of violence didn't diminish players' enjoyment of the game."
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Study Finds Gamers Prefer Control, Competence Over Violence

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:19PM (#26852029)

    "They may not be in it for the blood. They're in it for the fun."

    Unfortunately, violence is the ultimate form of control.

    • Unfortunately, violence is the ultimate form of control.

      I love Ghandi quotes!

      Oh, wait...

      Neanderthal.

    • Unfortunately, violence is the ultimate form of control.

      Well, life-experience in most civilised societies tends to teach you the opposite: that violence is lack of control, and that self-control is the ultimate form of control.

      Whether video games tend to teach the same is another question though.

      • My life experience has taught me that violence trumps other forms of control. If the police or army is coming down on you, good luck using your self-control to do anything about it. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be avoided, but those who forget it are in for a rude shock when someone less civilized breaks the rules.

  • by Yath (6378) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:21PM (#26852047) Journal

    An extensive survey of the two groups showed that the exclusion of violence didn't diminish players' enjoyment of the game.

    I hope they did more then just ask them how much they enjoyed themselves. People can be unreliable when asked such questions, for any number of reasons, such as not wanting to appear like bloodthirsty savages when questioned by authority figures.

    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:02PM (#26852369)

      Since there's no reason for either group to know what the other group was doing I can't see how that would matter.

      • Because one group might have felt like bloodthirsty savages, while the other might not have consciously connected people floating up to heaven with killing them?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Vu1turEMaN (1270774)

      I know that any real study would be studying brainwaves during both sessions, and would be videotaping the entire thing, and recording demos of their actions in-game for analysis.

      Hell, the psychological studies at Pitt that I just went through as a class requirement sound more in-depth than this one, which is full of holes. Surveys do very little in this situation.

    • If that's the case, than how do you define happiness? What if the survey was anonymous and written (or even scantronned)? Are you saying that people are not good judges of their own happiness indicies?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:32AM (#26853513)

      An extensive survey of the two groups showed that the exclusion of violence didn't diminish players' enjoyment of the game.

      I hope they did more then just ask them how much they enjoyed themselves. People can be unreliable when asked such questions, for any number of reasons, such as not wanting to appear like bloodthirsty savages when questioned by authority figures.

      Yes, I sure hope they followed the most basic of procedures in their field.

      I hope the programmers here didn't drop their laptops in the tub today, or use them outside in heavy rain. I also hope that they remembered to compile the programs that they wrote- trying to run the source code files directly would probably skew the results!

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      In grand /. style I didn't read TFA, deal with it. The study was skewed heavily towards females with 65 to 36 males. In western cultures at least females are generally far more interested in relationships and other inter-personal matters. Men are far more interested in blowing things up and other grandiose displays instant gratification for having accomplished something. I find the results of the study unsurprising and not exactly applicable to the target demographic of such games in the first place.
  • by IanDanforth (753892) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:23PM (#26852059)

    Researchers have also have discovered that Laura Croft's breast size does not significantly change the appeal of the character, Animal Crossing is just as fun as GTA, and female night elves are rarely created in WoW.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > Animal Crossing

      The TV spot for that makes me want perform unspeakable acts of cruelty upon small fluffy animals, punch the guy in the face and make out out with the girl. This fluoxetine-imbued, saccharin shit is easily the most emotionally confusing and disturbing thing I've ever seen on TV.

      If there was a top secret government program to convert non-violent, law abiding citizens into serial killers... the animal crossing ad looping constantly for 2-3 days would be all they needed.

    • FTFA:

      In a different study of avid gamers, a group of 39 males who were, on average, 19.5 years old and played video games for 7.5 hours a week were asked to play the game The House of the Dead III with a low violence or high violence setting. [...] As before, violence did not affect playersâ(TM) enjoyment of the games.

      Even if we're talking about males-only, and the fairly young variety, violence seems to not matter.

      Chipping in with my own anecdote: my (by far) most violent wii game, Mortal Kombat Armageddon, is the one I find the least fun. The one with no violence at all, Guitar Hero III, is the one I find the most fun. The second-most violent is probably Twilight Princess, almost-tied with GH3 for fun. So there's no clear relationship. By the way, I'm male and 25.5 years old on average ;-)

      • I think there is something like "enough" of the naughty stuff, and it applies both to gore and the Lara Croft example in GP's post. Beyond that, more just means less believable and it gets old fast.

        Personally, one of my favorite games is Day Of Defeat with moderate "blood effects". I find that removing them completely would detract from the game, but excessive gore would not improve it. The same goes for breast size of female MMORPG characters, I like those but don't push the settings for boob size to the m

        • "The same goes for breast size of female MMORPG characters, I like those but don't push the settings for boob size to the maximum."

          But of course. We want our characters to be able to stand upright, right?

      • I really think it's bollox.

        We're talking about a game that's designed to be interesting (HL2), no matter if there's violence in the game or not it's a cool game.

        Meanwhile, if you take something like Saints Row 2, GTA IV, or any of the ultra-violent games out there the study would have completely different findings. Seriously, would it be as much fun to either:

        a) Beat a pedestrian to a pulp and take their cash

        or

        b) Ask nicely and have a random chance of getting a small amount of cash

        I'd rather go with option

        • Really, these "findings" are made on such a narrow scope with so many factors not taken into account that it's just pure bullshit. I'll keep playing my games for what they are, be it violent, story driven, puzzle or whatever based. They are entertaining because of what they are made for, not what you want to see in them.

          The study would have to be a lot bigger otherwise [wikipedia.org]. # of participents (that's science-speak for human guinea-pigs, BTW) doubles every time you add another game or other degree of freedom (since you either have to check on the effect of the confounder or remove it entirely or normalize [wikipedia.org] it, in which case you're not finding how this relates to particular games.). HL2 is a good compromise between a totally violent game and a nonviolent game.

        • Agreed. When I'm having a bad day, or feeling frustrated about school work (college), I like to fire up a game and blow the living shit out of something ;)
        • by SL Baur (19540)

          Seriously, would it be as much fun to either:

          a) Beat a pedestrian to a pulp and take their cash

          or

          b) Ask nicely and have a random chance of getting a small amount of cash

          I find myself strangely attracted to the "Maintaining Discipline" daily - http://thottbot.com/q13422 [thottbot.com] does that make me bad?

    • by rts008 (812749) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:49PM (#26852683) Journal

      Researchers have also have discovered that Laura Croft's breast size does not significantly change the appeal of the character...

      True, True...butt,

      Well, actually we are watching for a realistic bounce and jiggle on the oversized jugglies....and a nice butt....and a skimpy costume...and
      Uhmmm....gotta go....more research needed here...

      signed,
      Researchers

  • City of Heroes and City of Villains make extensive use of PhysX to impliment ragdoll physics for humanoid characters. When you, as a super-powered character knock the tar out of an enemy, they can go flying across the room or high into the air.

    With some skill, it's possible to use knockback as the ultimate crowd control device. You keep your enemies knocked down or penned into a corner where they can't hurt you.

    In my opinion, this is far more entertaining and far more visually stimulating than any other met

    • In my opinion, this is far more entertaining and far more visually stimulating than any other method of defeating your enemies.

      I respectfully disagree. Serious Sam had this one perfected. There are few things more satisfying than watching a monster bleed flowers when you shoot it.

      • Firing a fully charged cannonball at a horde of enemies you've carefully lined up and leaving a bloody smear along the ground with chunks flying all over the place

  • Bullshit!

    I'm sorry, I didn't know what came over me. I just blurted it out! I won't do it again -- I swear.
  • Colonel: And that dim sum fighting in the warehouse yesterday?

    Topper: I just do that for the extra money. And to satisfy my male cravings to kill and win.

  • In related news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrMista_B (891430)

    Air is what people breathe! Pain hurts! Ice is cold!

    Seriously. What a waste of a study - I recognize the value of it, but they're really not trying very hard, huh?

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:34PM (#26852181)

    ...but in combat situations in Half-Life 2, Fallout 3, or Metal Gear Solid 4......it is.

    The mood of Half-Life 2 is a doom and gloom apocalyptic atmosphere where soldiers and aliens are enslaving mankind. In Fallout 3 the world is a desert of death and nuclear radiation, violence, chaos, it's part of the atmosphere, part of the immersion. In Metal Gear Solid 4 you are dropped off in the middle of a bloody war between private soldiers for hire and nationalists guerrillas, violence, gunfire, explosions, nanobots and killbots (with preset kill limits), are part of the world that is the turmoil enveloped earth.

    If was playing any of those games and there was no violence, no blood, no swearing, no aggression of any kind, I would probably not even play the games in the first place. They are rated M, they are adult games, made by adults for adults. No need to strip them down and make them for children.

    Are they honestly trying to say that something like Grand Theft Auto would be fun without in game crime, violence, or swearing? Maybe it would be...but that's not the point of GTA. It aims to be violent to create an atmosphere of crime. Just like crime movies and TV shows, Training Day, The Sopranos, also portray violence. It's realistic within the context of portraying criminal behavior with a reasonable creative license.

    Why not conduct a study to say that all R-Rated movies are unnecessary? Or that violent TV shows should be toned down to exclude violence? Surely Saving Private Ryan (Rated R for graphic violence) and Band of Brothers (rated TV-MA for the same) could have been just as effective as cinema with a complete lack of violence and cursing. Is violence necessary in those movies? No. It is necessary to make the movies compelling and also historically accurate? Yes.

    "A common belief held by many gamers and many in the video game industry -- that violence is what makes a game fun -- is strongly contradicted by these studies," comments Craig Anderson, a psychologist who directs the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University in Ames.

    What empirical data is he possibly referring to? I have yet to see the survey where significance testing was passed that conclusively shows that 'many' gamers think violence is solely what makes games fun.

    This is just another barely scientific study where the researcher wants to get water cooler points with his colleagues and say "hey I got published about video-game violence!" and while in the short term this research might turn a few heads, another book like Grand Theft Childhood will put this study in the negative in the history books.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Theft_Childhood

    • by the_humeister (922869) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:44PM (#26852247)

      Are they honestly trying to say that something like Grand Theft Auto would be fun without in game crime, violence, or swearing? Maybe it would be...but that's not the point of GTA. It aims to be violent to create an atmosphere of crime. Just like crime movies and TV shows, Training Day, The Sopranos, also portray violence. It's realistic within the context of portraying criminal behavior with a reasonable creative license.

      I think it would just be a different type of fun. Take a look at the The Simpsons Hit & Run game. It uses the same engine as GTA 3 and you more or less do the same thing: do quests, get into cars and drive around, talk to people, etc. However, you can't kill anyone, there's no swearing, etc. And yet, it's still a fun game.

      • by PitaBred (632671)
        And which one of the games has sold orders of magnitude more than the other? You did all the hard work of proving your own point wrong.
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        You did all the hard work of proving your point, and when you look at the sales numbers you see that you actually proved the opposite. I'm sure Simpson's was fun, but it's more than apparent that GTA is MORE fun. Why, that's another matter, but we can all agree violence does not make games any less fun, at least by society's standards.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by prockcore (543967)

          Sales numbers don't prove fun. You might as well be arguing that Brittney Spears is a great singer because she sells so many albums.

          GTA sold the amount it did on name alone.

          • by antic (29198)

            Yeah, because The Simpsons has no worldwide brand strength whatsoever... ;)

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Stormwatch (703920)
              Taking in account their old games, the Simpsons had a TERRIBLE reputation among video game players.
          • by PitaBred (632671)
            GTA was a NEW name. The Simpson's was a very well established brand before becoming a game. Try again. And I'm not arguing that the GTA was BETTER than the Simpson's. But the vast majority of people think that it was more fun, and that's all that matters. Just like the vast majority of people think that Britney Spears is a better singer than Christina Aguilera. It may not be true from a critic's perspective, but the general public has chosen. You're arguing from a critics perspective, not from a social per
      • by msormune (808119)

        Yeah, but it would not be a fun game WITHOUT the Simpsons theme.

        Now if someone could create GTA with Simpsons in it.... that would just be awesome. I wanna smack hoes Homer style.

    • by Rand310 (264407)

      However, I've always been intrigued by the freedom of GTA. I personally have little desire to engage in the plot - but the intricacy of play is appealing. Though I agree, that makes those games, mightn't it be possible to make a game where such freedom is allowed (even to kill) but the direction or tone was not so obviously violent?

      I would really like to play GTA, but I honestly am turned off by the missions I must willfully accept. I have great fun with the feeling of control - the ability to get in ca

      • I never finished the first GTA 3--I did play through a few of the missions, but not that many. I spent loads of time screwing around in it, though.

        Vice City I finished. Easily my favorite GTA. Great story, great atmosphere and the missions were usually fun.

        San Andreas had promise but I eventually quit because I got sick of the "defend your turf" crap. That stuff wasn't fun, and it took up way too much time. However, it is probably the most fun one to just put in codes and go crazy in. My favorite is p

    • by RyoShin (610051)

      If was playing any of those games and there was no violence, no blood, no swearing, no aggression of any kind, I would probably not even play the games in the first place. They are rated M, they are adult games, made by adults for adults. No need to strip them down and make them for children.

      It seems like the aggression was still there in the "tag them" version, as you were still trying to get them before they got you. It's the same aggression and adrenaline rush as playing football or tag; real war just h

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:35PM (#26852187) Homepage
    So, then, you're 13 years old and in the video game shop in the mall with your buds... gee, let's see, which game do I want to buy here, think the guys would be impressed by some flag-football where the most dexterous player wins, or chainsaw arena football.... hmmmm.... tough one, right?
    • by Moraelin (679338)

      So, then, you're 13 years old and in the video game shop in the mall with your buds... gee, let's see, which game do I want to buy here, think the guys would be impressed by some flag-football where the most dexterous player wins, or chainsaw arena football.... hmmmm.... tough one, right?

      Well, I'm sure that'll be news to EA, who has been making more money with their sports games than with any other genre. In fact, nowadays the average game doesn't even break even, and EA effectively subsidizes the duds out

    • by drsquare (530038)

      Most games that children play are bought by adults, so I'm not sure how the 13-year old's blood-lust counts for much.

      At any rate, the biggest-selling games these days tend to be:

      1. Sports games, where the most violent part is someone being knocked over, only to get up again unscathed.
      2. Guitar Hero/Rock Band type games, where as far as I'm aware there's no violence at all.
      3. MMOs like World of Warcraft, where the violence is low-detail cartoonish fantasy.

  • interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by theeddie55 (982783) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:51PM (#26852285)
    My studies showed that my tetris addiction was directly linked to the violence of the game, I'm now going to have to go back and look over that paper, see where I went wrong.
    • Unlike sex, I'm sure violence has is at least doable. I played sextris for a bit but the game was ultimately unplayable. Not because using nude people tetris pieces was somehow demeaning or unseemly but because of the overly prudish interpretation of what kind of couplings would get rid of the piece. -- Those are fine sex positions for lesbian fetishists, dumbass game!

      I should go code up a violent tetris. One you take out a row it should turn into blood and flow out with realistic fluid dynamics. Getting a

  • The gore from shooting a victim works into a story plot line much better than having the victim float back to base.

    Well perhaps an extreme game involving harpoon guns with cords attached to large helium balloons.

    Hmmm... perhaps I should talk to someone at EA

  • by Geof (153857) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:03PM (#26852375) Homepage

    I stopped playing first-person shooters at Quake II. I had enjoyed previous FPS games quite a lot, and I gave Quake II a good try, but the bloody chunks with the flies buzzing around them were the limit for me. Similarly, I didn't like that in Age of Empires II committing war crimes - killing enemy peasants to take out productive capacity - was the best way to win. Nor that an apparent flaw with uprisings in CivIII meant that the best way to take over cities was a bit of ethnic cleansing by way of starvation. I still played those games, but it bugged me. I never traded slaves in Elite.

    This is why I liked Tony Hawk and Jet Set Radio so much. They are about being cool instead killing things.

    I won't make grand claims about the effects on anyone else, but I know I don't want my 3-year old son playing violent games. I am kind of pissed off that many games I might otherwise enjoy are effectively wrecked by violence. Who knows who else is put off by violence? The people like me who are put off don't play, so they don't figure into many statistics.

    • by Rand310 (264407)

      I think reality has it's part. I think in a game of conquest, to lack the ability to commit genocide is unrealistic. In the same way that a game set in post-apocalyptic-wherever where everyone is a marine probably involves some blood. As do war simulations.

      But again, those are more choices of genre. However, the concept of detail/control do not traverse genres very well currently.

      One must be careful, when talking about such issues, to not confuse the genre of the game, and appeal for the genre, with the

      • by Geof (153857) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:33PM (#26852939) Homepage

        You aren't the only one to talk about realism in your response (though the others weren't so polite). It is certainly true that history is bloody and unjust, far more than we usually recognize. Hell, the present is bloody and unjust too, with historically high levels of slavery, for example.

        Personally I think realism in games is generally a red herring. Games are no less fantasies than are most Hollywood films. At best, they have only a passing acquaintance with reality. We play games to escape from reality, not to replicate it. It is too easy to pursue "realism" as a design objective, perhaps because it's easier to imitate reality than to come up with original fun.

        To take Age of Empires as an example, in a realistic game we might expect to enslave conquered populations (or at least their women and children), commit religious genocide and cope with serious problems of deforestation and soil degradation. I doubt many of us would want to play a game in which our civilization suddenly and unexpectedly got wiped off the map a disease that kills a third of the population (the Black Death) or 90-99% (the Americas following first contact with European smallbox).

        Not that I mean to hold up AoE as a terribly violent game. It really isn't. What bothered me is that a small feature, so easily changed, was actually incredibly brutal. Attacking an enemy's productive capacity while building up my own is the sort of approach I am inclined to take, as opposed to frontal attack. Historically, though, I suspect that conscious economic warfare is a recent phenomenon, reflecting more of a WWII mindset than an ancient one. The wars in the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda would be more representative: genocidal attacks on other groups not in order to stop them from producing, but to take over their territory and resources. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the people simply went with the land so there was no need to kill them (though that happened anyway) - it wasn't until part way through the Hundred Years War that nationalism started to take root as a consequence of military brutality.

        • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:32AM (#26854035)
          Somebody needs to read Commentarii de Bello Gallico [wikipedia.org]. From the beginning of recorded history in conflicts large and small, groups of people are routinely killed as a show of force. Caesar's records of handling Gauls, Britons and Germans are particularly clear. The idea is always to 'send a message' to anybody else who's thinking of opposition. It has nothing to do with nationalism.

          It also seems as though your gaming experience is lacking. All the things you speak of in terms of a 'realistic game' exist to one degree on another in Firaxis games like Civ IV and Alpha Centauri. Granted, when I play those (and I do excessively) I turn random events that effect population (like disease) off, but otherwise it's all there.

          The other posters are correct. It seems to me that you have a hard time with what is a clear difference between games and simulations with real events. The depictions of villagers in AOE aren't real people. They don't have families, goals, lives, etc. They're stupid sprites somebody drew to represent certain abstract capacities in a game that happen to look like people and are easily and intuitively understood in a common context (it takes labor to get resource X to place of use Y).

          If you're so sensitive that seeing a depiction of demise in art (these are drawings remember, they just happen to be part of the goal-oriented framework of a game) evokes a reaction on a level with reality, that is the literal definition of confusing fiction and reality.
        • Historically, though, I suspect that conscious economic warfare is a recent phenomenon, reflecting more of a WWII mindset than an ancient one.

          May I ask what gives you that idea? I don't know that much about history, either, but I'm pretty sure similar things had been going on long before the 20th century.

          • by Geof (153857)

            I was not referring to terror attacks, raping and pillaging, horsemen riding and wiping out whole cities, ethnic cleansing, etc. My emphasis was on deliberate attacks on civilians in order to impair the enemy economy. In WWII that was widespread. I'm no historian, but it seems to me this requires long-term planning and hierarchical control of the military. That excludes most of history right off the bat. Though you're right, there are probably some exceptions somewhere. But the economic focus - the mi

            • Actually, the economic impact of bombing civilians was not the original motivation. The whole thing started during the Battle of Britain and was basically just a back and forth of "I'll do you for that!" Some German bombers went off course, hit the wrong stuff, and the British of course not only refused to believe it was an accident, but retaliated in kind more than once. Of course the Germans weren't going to take repeated retaliations lying down, so they went all out, and the British did as well, and when
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      I won't make grand claims about the effects on anyone else, but I know I don't want my 3-year old son playing violent games.

      I'm sure there will be other obvious points made, so instead I'll say I agree with you on this one completely. By a certain relatively early, say pre-teen, I think most minds have a solid enough grip on reality vs fantasy and right and wrong to be able to handle normal levels of violence in movies and video games. Very young children are such blank slates though that they really can

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Oh yeah, I remember those Power Ranger wannabes alright... Good to hear you banned your kid from seeing it.

        1) They definitely weren't just punching me in the leg.
        2) They didn't even have to be your kids - random ones would just come up and "Power Ranger" on you.

        At least with stuff like Ultraman/Superman the superpower beams are:
        1) Usually the popular move (since they are often perceived as the most powerful)
        2) Imaginary in play (don't hurt you).
        3) Have to be imagined by both parties for max fun, so they lea
    • by PitaBred (632671)
      You do realize that "Age of Empires" was set in an historical time period when killing or enslaving peasants was a very much accepted tactic, and not considered a war crime. I'm sure you found it distasteful, but trying to ignore or forget history is very dangerous. It's how we keep ourselves as a society moving forward.
    • by Dravik (699631)
      The uprisings "flaw" in CivIII isn't a flaw. Historically, ethnic cleansing/genocide by starvation, slavery, and or slaughter was the most effective way to control a newly conquered area. Genocide works, dead people don't revolt. Killing all the males and raping all the women wasn't done because they were barbarians, it was done because it prevented uprisings for a generation and then diluted those eventual revolts since a non-insignificant portion of the men would be related, sons of rapists, to the con
    • For those dismissing what amounts to a declaration of taste - Geof doesn't like violence in games - on the basis that such violence is "realistic" or historically accurate, please keep your position in mind next time you debate video games.

      If you personally prefer historical accuracy, fine. De gustibus non est disputandum.

      Otherwise, you appear to be arguing that historical accuracy is better because it is educational. Really? Instructional value should be a central concern in game design? Do tell.

      You ar

      • by rastilin (752802)

        Seriously. Some of you seem awfully touchy. Do you feel guilty about something? Do you think I'm suggesting your preferences are somehow inferior? Figure out what you're arguing with, then figure out whether that's really what I said.

        Wow you are so spectacularly offensive, and yet if I called you out out on it using the proper language; I would be marked flame bait.

        Firstly you ARE suggesting their preferences are inferior; by telling us you hate it and that you wouldn't let your children touch it; you're implying that their preferences are dangerous for children, unlike yours which are pure. Many people would be offended by that and look, they are.

        Otherwise, you appear to be arguing that historical accuracy is better because it is educational. Really? Instructional value should be a central concern in game design? Do tell.

        Because being shielded from the truth of the world is bad; in every way. Without proper i

        • by Geof (153857)

          you ARE suggesting their preferences are inferior; by telling us you hate it and that you wouldn't let your children touch it; you're implying that their preferences are dangerous for children, unlike yours which are pure

          See, this is a problem that happens a lot online. I am not implying it. You can interpret it that way if you like, but that is you reading something between the lines that I didn't put there, and that doesn't reflect my way of thinking. Maybe if you wrote what I wrote then that would be

          • A favorite rhetorical device of Cicero was to say 'I'm not going to say X about Y' as a preface to saying exactly those things. If most people think you're implying something in your statements, the chances are greater that you're in denial about your own motivations than a majority is likely to be wrong in interpretation. In fact the poster was spot on in saying that it shows you believe the actions of others are at least wrong, and you admit 'If I was in charge of your kids, I wouldn't let them play such
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by l00sr (266426)

      It's a shame that this thread has become a knee-jerk reaction fest defending violence in videogames, when in fact the article brings up an interesting question. Do videogames really need to be so violent to be fun, or could it be that the target demographic consists mainly of insecure young men who play violent videogames to feel macho/empowered?

      In that sense, I could very easily see being put off by pointless, over-the-top violence--in a way, it's an insult. I don't need to play a game that involves grap

  • (control)
    duh

  • When I play Half-Life2, in the places where you can set undead with head crabs on fire, I definitely try to do that. But then I do feel wrong when they stagger around on fire, moaning.
  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by east coast (590680) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:41PM (#26852631)
    I can't speak for anyone else but I play video games so I can shoot people in the nutsack.
  • Survey != Study (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:48PM (#26852673)
    Yes, most people prefer control to violence, but if I'm playing Call of Duty when I'm in a war, I don't want people to just "faint" get transported back to base, etc. People die in wars, people bleed in wars, heck, people even swear in wars. I don't want to hit someone with a grenade and them just to be transported somewhere. On the other hand, I'm not sure if I would like it if whenever Mario stomps on an enemy for blood to be gushing out of it because it doesn't fit the mood.
  • I, for one, ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Strake (982081) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:51PM (#26852701)

    prefer rows of eliminated blocks in Tetris to explode into blood and gore and fire.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by maz2331 (1104901)

      Prefer that the rows of Tetris blocks explode in an orgy of gore and fire - with extra points if it's somehow sexualized.

  • by basementman (1475159) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:15PM (#26852819) Homepage
    They surveyed 101 people and expect to draw a useful conclusion from that? In my high school probability class we did surveys with more people than that. Besides the flawed sample, choosing more women than men in a hobby hugely dominated by males. The sample size is smaller than my recently removed left testicle.
    • by Atario (673917) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:30AM (#26854023) Homepage

      Your high school "probability class" didn't teach you enough.

      According to this [census.gov], there are about 228 million adults in the US.

      According to this [washingtonpost.com], 40% of US adults play videogames, or about 91.2 million.

      According to this [ezsurvey.com], a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of 10% can be achieved on a population of 91.2 million with a sample size of only 97.

      So, yes, you can draw something useful from that.

  • Why half-life 2? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gparent (1242548) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @12:59AM (#26853347)
    Half-Life 2 is hardly violent. There is a bit of blood and people dieing and that's it. There is no such thing as "Exploding in dismemberment" in that franchise. So they took a low violence game and made it even less violent. Big deal.
    • by Haeleth (414428)

      Why was this modded "funny"? It's true. Half-Life 2 is about as non-violent as you can make a game that's all about killing things. You can shoot someone in the face with a rocket launcher, and all they'll do is fly a few feet backwards and fall over, with no dismemberment whatsoever. And you can only directly kill your enemies; empty an entire machine gun magazine into a civilian, and it won't even hurt them!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Are we talking about the same game ? There are parts of HL2 that are really, really violent...

        Like using the gravity gun with the saw blades on the zombies to cut them in two.

        Or enemies getting impaled on your crossbow bolts.

        Or zombies screaming in pain while they burn.

        Or using enemy corpses as projectiles.

        But in my opinion, it's not a bad thing, since it creates an creepy ambiance that is the goal of the game.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:04AM (#26853373)

    One time, a friend and I tried to actually be helpful in a World of Warcraft battleground (Arathi Basin) without doing a single point of direct damage to anyone on the opposing team, with a level 31 Undead Warlock and a level 32 Undead Priest. Lowest level toons for the ranked Battleground(think "cannon-fodder").

    Short of fearing everyone repeatedly(just pissed everyone off, and the first guy with a trinket would kill us) or simply kiting them around to waste their time, we only found ONE method of actually killing someone without doing direct damage.

    I'd park my succubus right next to the flag at the lumbermill, have her go invisible and then just stand there. Then I'd go and hide behind this rock real far away, but close enough to see the flag. The Priest would do the same, but closer in.

    I'd wait for some unsuspecting soul to walk up, start to take the flag, then seduce them with the succubus(WTF!?........), then have my buddy the Priest come out of hiding, race up to them, cast mind control, then run the poor slob right off the towering cliff next to the flag. I could usually run up to the edge of the cliff just in time to see them hit, far below.

    It wasn't us that killed them, it was the landing!

    But seriously, MOST games are based on doing damage to something. This study just says that MOST game developers are simply ignoring a possible playerbase-- the ones that don't really care about doing damage to something.

    Think Portal.

    • by skam240 (789197)

      What in gods name...

      OK, seriously, how the hell is forcing some one to run off a cliff in a game different from doing damage to them? All you have figured out is how to waste what was probably a substantial amount of time in figuring out how to do a very large amount of indirect damage to some one under absurdly specific conditions. What does this have to do with anything?

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      I'd wait for some unsuspecting soul to walk up, start to take the flag, then seduce them with the succubus(WTF!?........), then have my buddy the Priest come out of hiding, race up to them, cast mind control, then run the poor slob right off the towering cliff next to the flag. I could usually run up to the edge of the cliff just in time to see them hit, far below.

      It wasn't us that killed them, it was the landing!

      That's funny. Sounds like the guy who made the video of knocking people off the bridge in AV with hardpacked snowballs.

  • Lol. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyn1c77 (928549) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:19AM (#26853449)

    Half the people in a group of 36 male and 65 female college students were instructed... An extensive survey of the two groups showed that the exclusion of violence didn't diminish players' enjoyment of the game

    Yeah, OK. But only because they had so many women in the mix. Put some 12 year old boys in there and the map will be covered in blood.

  • by CobaltBlueDW (899284) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:32AM (#26853505)

    People who are outside of the gaming social faction get hooked on this stigma. Violence in games isn't violence. The point of gore in a game rarely has anything to do with violence. Blood splatter in games has a purpose, and it's not to attract the vampire demographic.

    Here's an overly simplified run-down for the unaware:
      - Games are structured activities with achievable goals.
      - Goals in games come with rewards (simple psychology).
      - The better the reward system, the more rewarding/entertaining the game.
      - Rewards come in many forms, audible and visual are among the most prevalent in audio-visual products such as video games.
      - An example of a visual reward is a firework. It's a visually appealing que signifying success.
      - Games also often have themes. This imbues the game with 'Mimesis', the fun of role playing and make believe.
      - Themes often involve living things because we(humans) find relevant topics more interesting, and living things (including humans) more relevant. Also, living things imply intelligence. Implied intelligence in opponents increases the sense of competition, or 'Agon'.
      - When the theme dictates that you should defeat a living thing, and the reward system dictates that you should que success with a visual explosion, common sense leads to blood splatter.

    Note: how some themes will use a more science fiction based approach, applying artificial intelligence to robots, and using combustion explosions or sparks as rewards.

    The prosperity of violence in games is not, for the most part, due to gratuity, but solid evolutionary success. The game industry is heavily driven by an evolutionary process. Game producers cling to what has worked in previous propogations, while intermittently making random variations to successful formulas.

    --So, thank you again scientists for attempting to give empirical evidence for something that was clearly logical.

  • Postal anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by starblazer (49187)

    Remember postal? big hit. Remember Postal 2? Anyone? Anyyone? Once Postal hit and took the "OMG BLOOD AND GORE" away, the next game in the series sucked. Hardcore. Since then nobody has really cared about the stupid blood and gore games.

  • by skam240 (789197) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @05:00AM (#26854357)

    This really just seems to be just bad science to me. For starters, just asking people what they like more as they did in the 2,500 person study is no way to determine anything like this. Next, the sample size is entirely too small on the game play tests for them to mean anything. Finally, why on earth are they using a sample group that is disproportionately female in a study about game violence when it is males that a)generally spend far more time playing games and b) are generally more attracted to violence?

    Now just as a disclaimer, I'm not promoting any viewpoint in regards to video game violence. I just think the studies in question here are bullshit (at least as they are described in the article).

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