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Games Science

Study: Video Gamer Aggression Result of Game Experience, Not Violent Content 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the random-number-generators-are-the-root-of-all-evil dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new study published in the March edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that a gamer's experience of a video game and not the content of the game itself can give rise to violent behavior. In other words, 'researchers found it was not the narrative or imagery, but the lack of mastery of the game's controls and the degree of difficulty players had completing the game that led to frustration.' Based on their findings, researchers note that even games like Tetris and Candy Crush can inspire violent behavior more so than games like World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto if they are poorly designed and difficult to play."
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Study: Video Gamer Aggression Result of Game Experience, Not Violent Content

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now every games will be made so even a 4 year old kid can beat them easily.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's lack of self-control that inspires violent behaviour. Whether it's a game or a nagging spouse that sends a person into a rage, the problem still resides with the individual, so enough with the scapegoating.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's lack of self-control that inspires violent behaviour. Whether it's a game or a nagging spouse that sends a person into a rage, the problem still resides with the individual, so enough with the scapegoating.

      And that's exactly what the article says. This is Slashdot, not Simon Says.

    • Re:Here we go again (Score:4, Interesting)

      by blackraven14250 (902843) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:33PM (#46701277)

      I think this article brings up something really interesting that I was actually prodding my friend about the other day regarding UI design. See, he was playing a game with a friends list, and he was telling me that he needed to delete friends. His list is far smaller than mine on this game, only around 40 people. I eventually dug down to his original experience with friend systems for video games - the original XBox. The XBox had an awful UI for sorting, displaying, and finding friends - you could only see 4 or 5 friends at a time, and it would never get a passing grade under today's UI standards. This was a system from nearly a decade ago, and there's a non-zero chance that his experience with the UI still affects his behavior a decade later, manifesting as a vague compulsion to keep his friends lists short.

      So, how does this relate to the article? If a UI can train people into long-term compulsive behaviors, it's not unreasonable to research whether they can also nudge people's behavior in other directions on a shorter timescale.

      • We are talking about gameplay and inability to master the controls, or control the outcome. Your example is not the worst example of inability to control the outcome, but would be more relevant if your friend punched people on his contacts list.

        More relevant is the controller with 16 inputs plus directional controls, where X reloads the rifle, except next to a vehicle where you hijack it, but the one you're closest to instead of what you're facing, except if there is a person nearby so they get taken hostag

        • Well, even though my example is a relatively small change in behavior, it's the fact that it displays as a compulsion for such a long period of time, and is transcribed to a large number of different services, that makes me think that investigating the ways we design our technology can affect behavior. I've given a lot of thought to efficiency and layout before, but never how X UI would change Y thought and cause Z behavior which is then transposed to A + B + C related platforms, and D + E unrelated service

        • by chihowa (366380) *

          Your scenario is even more obnoxious on awful PC ports (way too many recently) of console games where you're sitting in front of over a hundred buttons and every action possible is mapped to 'E'. Paired with fuzzy interpretation of inputs from your hyper-precise mouse and keyboard, you're constantly fighting the game engine instead of the game.

          This isn't a new phenomenon, either. Many Nintendo hard [tvtropes.org] games of yore required input precision greater than the controller was capable of predictably providing. In fa

    • It's lack of self-control that inspires violent behaviour. Whether it's a game or a nagging spouse that sends a person into a rage, the problem still resides with the individual, so enough with the scapegoating.

      I agree 100 percent. Short of real mental illness in someone's brain. We all choose whether we let the rage out.

    • by epyT-R (613989) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @11:23PM (#46701827)

      I would also say that everyone has limits. Backing individuals into impossible situations passive aggressively is something that modern society has become very good at. Since some people have more control than others for a given type of situation, those with less end up as canaries in the coal mine. Eg, the rise in school shootings probably has to do with how our society/school system increasingly treats individuality negatively. Those who feel it most, feel it first. Boom.

      • I would also say that everyone has limits. Backing individuals into impossible situations passive aggressively is something that modern society has become very good at.

        ...and then, there's the different ways that an individual will react and cope once the limits are broken.

        To take the current subject: Video games.

        Some will react violently to furstration, and angrily throw their controler accros the room.
        Other will simply go "meh", consider the "unwinnable game" uninteresting and move onto something and not even mind.

        Same could apply to lots of other situations in life.
        Some people will just go mad. Other will just chose to ignore and move to something else.

    • by Bite The Pillow (3087109) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @11:26PM (#46701855)

      Nope. Lack of self control causes violence. But lack of game control causes the anger and frustration that leads to a need for self control.

      Basically this, if proven as opposed to found once and reported, explains why all studies that blamed video games found the same results consistently. Not because it was bad science, but poor design.

      Prior studies were missing basic control groups that had input requirements similar to violent games with only the content different.

      Every such study is now suspect at best, and more likely invalid. And, unless you see a flaw, this result means that anyone blaming purely the individual's self control is just as ignorant as blaming purely the game's violent content.

      • by Jesrad (716567)

        Lack of self-control can easily be induced: the more control you have over them, the easier it is to deprive them of control over themselves.

    • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:05AM (#46702051)

      You really think it's lack of self-control that's the problem? How the fuck would you know, you fucking little prick? How fucking dare you! You think you're better than the rest of us you godamn fuckface? SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH YOU FUCKING...

      Sorry. I don't know what came over me!

    • by fermion (181285)
      As we grow up we learn to deal with, and solve, problems. Some of these problems are technical, some are social, some are personal. For social problems we learn from various models. Video games, by and large, model the solution to social problems as violence. Yes, there can be models of teams solving social problems by violence, but for the most part it is a narcissistic and individual fantasy of absolute power and lack of normal social consequences.

      This, of course, does not in any mean that these vi

  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:12PM (#46701145)
    The original NES must have raised a generation of cold-blooded killers.
    • by Bonker (243350)

      Battletoads Jet-ski level. Pure hatred that will make you kill anyone or anything you love.

    • Re:Nintendo Hard (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RichDiesal (655968) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:24PM (#46701235)
      Well, the study is just about "leading to aggression" and not "leading to homicide." The NES often made me, at least, want to throw my controller through the wall. That experience is probably a lot less common these days (in this age of easier, accessible gaming).
      • Search youtube for "wii remote accident"
        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Search youtube for "wii remote accident"

          Different cause and effect.

          Rage -> Throw controller through wall.
          Throw Wii remove through wall -> Rage

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The best thing about the NES compared to game systems before it was that you _could_ throw your controller through the wall and it (the controller) would be perfectly fine. An unbreakable toy is great for breaking other toys.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        That experience is probably a lot less common these days

        Probably because you would be down an expensive smartphone if you did so. Not that it doesn't happen to smartphones, mind you, and for far more trivial events.

        At least a NES controller was cheaper, and had a cord to limit its range, and was fairly light. There is a very real risk of killing somebody by indiscriminately chucking those wireless Xbox controllers.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:44PM (#46701373) Journal
      huh. And here I thought it wasn't NES being hard, it was just games since then have gotten stupid easy.
      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Here Here. Super Mario 3D World has a couple of killer features. "Game over" simply kicks you back to the world screen and makes you start the level from the beginning. Just the level! Oh the humanity. This is mostly what I would call taking a break for the night.

        Oh better still if you fail a level 5 times you get a bonus power-up at the very beginning that lets you fly and makes you invincible.

        Based on the level of frustration a modern player experiences I expect us all to grow up as placid as Gandhi.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)

          Very much agree on this. The newer Zelda games make it quite hard to get lost. All the bombable walls are well marked. In the old days you had to bomb walls at random to find them. The second quest was worse, where they introduced the new concept of simply walking through the walls after walking into them for a few seconds.

          However, on the flip side, most games are much longer now, and it would probably take a lifetime to beat them if you had to start at the beginning each time you died.

    • by sir-gold (949031)

      When I was little we used to play NES over at my friends house. The TV in the basement where we played was kinda built into the wall, and the drywall around the TV had a bunch of little triangular dents from all the times my friend and his brother would throw the controller.

      I got my start doing mr-fix-it work by fixing smashed NES controllers for all my friends

      • by Calydor (739835)

        I got my start doing mr-fix-it work by fixing smashed NES controllers for all my friends

        I call bullshit, Nokias are fragile by comparison to those controllers.

    • by sinij (911942)

      It did, I am on my way to your house to murder everyone in a cold blood.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The original NES must have raised a generation of cold-blooded killers.

      Killers no, but violence, yes. There were times when I would whirl my controller around by the cord and SMASH it off of my floor repeatedly to vent my anger at some NES game, usually in the Ninja Gaiden series.

      Just try that with a modern controller. But don't come to me for help with the pieces.

    • The original NES must have raised a generation of cold-blooded killers.

      I thought it was Atari? Or even the one before which I cannot remember what it is called... I like the one that you played as a ghost and go through each room to collect stuff...

  • That makes sense. No wonder why @dongatory was bombed by so many threats from ignorant users.
    :)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    (Ghosts & Goblins for you older folks)
    How many lives were destroyed because of these games?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:29PM (#46701263)

    I should know: I've played Assassin's Creed.

    fucking camera. fucking ezio, going in the wrong fucking direction. running into fucking walls. jumping off fucking roofs. fucking FUCK.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    says that teenage males display undulating aggressive behavior due to high and fluctuating levels of testosterone.

    A fact of life for young males for over 100000 years now.

    Turns out video games is just a contemporary outlet for this aggressive behavior.

  • They're also inexcusable. Hell, it's already a computer and in a PvE situation, it has the hands down advantage on reflex and targeting.
  • I'm sure we can scientifically link **ALL** bad technology design to negative behaviors.

    And those negative behaviors, like feeling frustration repeatedly for a routine task, correlate in a proven way to high blood pressure & all kinds of other health problems.

    Bad design is ruining our health now too...we have the data to prove it.

  • You can't master a game, you get pissed.
    Big surprise!

    • by mjwx (966435)

      You can't master a game, you get pissed.
      Big surprise!

      It's a lot like bad drivers getting road rage more often.

      Other reports coming out from the Obvious Research Institute are believed to include findings that indicate water may be wet.

  • How many ballistics experiments were performed with a Rubik's Cube?

    • Very few, I hope. I never found the Rubik's cube to be frustrating, even back in the day when I didn't know how to algorithmically solve it. It was a fun way to spend some time, experimenting various methods and combinations.

  • In other news ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kittenman (971447) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:49PM (#46701413)
    Watching sad movies makes you sad. Listening to happy music can cheer you up. Reading a sad book can make you unhappy.

    Video games are just another entertainment form.

    I appreciate that TFA is referring to a lack of mastery of the controls makes you aggressive (or frustrated)...but so does lack of mastery of anything you spend time on.
    And my bugbear is XCOM classic ironman... damn those aliens.
    • You should try the newer XCOM. Even on normal mode some alien attacks you at the drop point causing half your team to panic and start killing each other.
    • by Quirkz (1206400)

      I thought it wasn't just lack of mastery, but actually poor controls, which contributed to the inability to master it. This isn't a sad movie making you sad, this is a skipping DVD during a crucial movie scene inducing rage when you can't get it to work.

  • In other words, people with little emotional self control over themselves in general, also have little emotional self control while playing games. Surprise surprise. Just because video games can place a person in a "stressful" situation in which failure happens often, and thus triggers the person's natural behavior that may not occur as often in less-stressful day to day real-life situations, does not mean video games *caused* that person to have that tendency.

  • I always did say that even the darkest, bloodiest, goriest games have nothing on Mario Kart.
  • Wonderful review of the most masochistic platformer I've ever seen. (NSFW Language)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

    • That's not a review, that's just one of those grownups clowning around on youtube for views from little kids :(

  • Be prepared (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dcollins117 (1267462) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @11:45PM (#46701961)

    That's why I always bring two pistols to a Monopoly game. One for the banker - you give a guy a position of power like that, sooner or later his inner nature will get the better of him and he starts skimming off the top.

    The other's for that guy that sets his sights on developing Park Place and Boardwalk. You can't abide that shit. You know that it's just a matter of time before those houses turn into hotels and it will not end well.

  • Ever tried completing Super Mario Sunshine's Plinko's Pinball Machine the intended way?

    Nuff said.
  • It all boils down to the perception how much control of the situation I have lost.

    In a public matchup situation, this sense trips rather quickly. When playing with friends almost never at all, and during solo game play it's my own fault, but I still get tweaked. Having been in the same room with friends, their reactions are different. *big shock* 1) One of them, he is grinning the whole time, for everything. He is the ubiquitous poster child for the "Serotonin! Fuck YEAH!" club. Hell of a lot of fun

  • Windows 8 will be responsible for several mass murders.

  • by drolli (522659)

    I saw people never as emotional as when you beat them nasty in the multi-player version of tetris. Some really physically attacked and tried to beat other people after that.

  • This, I am sure, will sound totally silly, but I've seen this in action. My wife's favorite games are the old "House Of The Dead" rail-shooters, and Angry Birds. House of the Dead noticeably relaxes her, and she doesn't hit much frustration it it. Angry Birds makes me fear for my life, practically, if she hits a losing streak. It's made worse by the social aspect - she gets furious if she is lower in the rankings than people she knows and competes against.

    Note: My wife and I don't have fancy new gaming syst

  • Did the researchers also study aggression that result from job experience?

    In my experience, frustration coming from you job is usually many times that which can come from a game, any game.

    With a game, you can just give up and play another game if the frustration reached a certain level. With you job, most people don't have that luxury.

  • This study just reeks of poor design. After all, doesn't the violent content create the experience which then leads to gamer aggression? Sounds to me like a poorly conducted study to try and take the heat off of the gaming industry. It's almost as bad as guns don't kill people, people kill people. Come up with a logical argument. That much said, I'm fully for ownership of firearms and no regulation of video games.
  • Video gamer and agression are two concepts that don't really match too well.
    In any case it would result in extremely comical situations, because the last think on earth one could possibly be afraid of is of an obese soft couch dweller who brakes a leg just from trying to lift his butt from the sofa.

    So, what's the point? They get aggressive? Who cares? They also get fucking fat.

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