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Video Racing Games May Spur Risky Driving 428

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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  • Not just games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:55AM (#18402129) Journal
    I've seen this after movies too. I remember well seeing "Gone in 60 seconds" (when it came out, long ago) and then watching all the idiots do burn-outs from the theatre and go peeling out. The funny thing was that apparently the cops were aware of this too, so they had some cars strategically placed after the shows ended.

    Of course one could still bring up the cause->effect arguement, as it's unclear as to whether or not people drive like idiots due to game/movie influence, or people who drive like idiots like those types of games/movies.
  • Its True (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:58AM (#18402175)
    This is the only "video games make you want to do things" studies I have ever agreed with but after playing racing games in which I always try to ram people off the road I admit that I want to try it more in real life. Now have I ever acted on this? No but I admit its there.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @11:59AM (#18402187)

    I'm a keen driver, and a strong advocate of road safety, so I've looked at a fair bit of the research that's available. Most variables that have been found to affect driver attitude are based on something that is happening while they're actually in the car: things like tiredness, drink and drugs obviously have an effect, but so do things like the type (actually, speed) of music you're listening to. (Some groups of drivers also generally exercise better judgement regardless of the immediate circumstances: to find out who, take a look at what counts for/against you when your insurance premium is worked out!)

    Then again, perception of speed is also affected by recent experience: think how slow it feels when you come off a high speed road into a town, even if you're doing the limit around town, and compare that with how that limit feels when you're just starting driving and already in town. That's perception rather than attitude and judgement, though.

    So while the conclusions here seem plausible, they're also a bit unusual. I saw a story very similar to this a few days ago in the UK media. Anyone know if these are all the same thing, or there's a recent research trend generating several sets of results in quick succession?

  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:01PM (#18402215)
    Ironically, the fact that I am really into race sims (not GTA, but Gran Turismo et al) probably is what saved me in my first accident. I was rear-ended in the right rear at freeway speeds and sent into a spin. If I hadn't already had the muscle memory to recover from spins, I would have probably caused other collisions as opposed to being able to recover. I only ended up doing roughly a 720.

    I was judged "not at fault" in the accident, and praised for paying attention in driver's ed...
  • by ptbarnett ( 159784 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:13PM (#18402383)
    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.

    After playing SOE's PlanetSide [] for a while, I was driving through a parking lot one day and reflexively swerved to avoid driving over an oil stain (a dark spot on an otherwise mostly clean parking lot).

    In Planetside, mines are not visible until you are close to them. If you are driving at full speed, you usually cannot stop fast enough to avoid them. The best you can do is to not drive right over them, which reduces the damage.

    In the parking lot, I came around a row of cars and there was this dark spot that looked like a mine. It took me a while to stop laughing, and later that night my entire outfit was laughing at me when I told them about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:13PM (#18402385)
    As a long time motorcyclist, and big fan of the game Road Rash, I can certainly tell you I was tempted to take more risks after a multi-player race fest at the office. I usually disciplined myself to wait 15-20 minutes after playing before heading home. Some of the "default driving decisions" were changed after playing the game for a while. They all reverted back eventually, but hoping on the bike right after playing for an hour was NOT a good idea.
  • I admit it... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:16PM (#18402417)
    after playing Vice City a long while I did start thinking differently in the car... not necessarily more recklessly, but I envisioned the same scene in the game as I was driving in... in a weird deja vu sort of way... I do think games desensitize people to simulated activities, driving situations, as well as others. People who are desensitized to activities look at activities more mundanely... dead people don't scare you so much when you see them in person after seeing them in movies a lot... so crazy ass driving may not be as scary after playing a lot of simulated gaming?

    Why do you think nascar racers play games to learn tracks? Maybe all the recent collisions in nascar can be blamed on video games? Doubt it, but maybe?
  • Re:Ridge Racer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:22PM (#18402505) Homepage Journal
    Who needs a game to breed 'agressive driving'?

    Hell...I've been driving that way WAY before they ever came out with racing video games....that's the fun of having a 2 seat sports car, or muscle cars with powerful engines.

    I'd dare say the radar detector is more of a driving force than the video game. I don't even look at the speedometer till I hear the Valentine One [] go off....

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:31PM (#18402619) Journal
    For most people "good driving" means "The particular way I drive." Drive slow? Slow drivers are good drivers. Drive fast? Fast drivers are good drivers. Drive carefully? Careful drivers are good drivers. Drive recklessly? "Daring" drivers are good drivers.

    Nearly everyone thinks they are a better than average driver. They aren't.

    Bad drivers have certainly been around long before video games. Hell, I'm sure there were Roman charioteers who yelled at other charioteers, "Learn to drive, ya moron!" That does not in any way imply that video games do not contribute to reckless driving. RTFA, the experiment was well designed.
  • Re:Arrg! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:44PM (#18402797)
    Those who played the racing game showed more agressive behavior (in a formal driving simulator) regardless of their video gaming history.

    A "formal driving simulator" is just another type of video game. Make it a game and give CA$H for driving safely while obeying the law in the simulator. Let us see then who walks away with more money.

  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:54PM (#18402913)
    ... that what we bathe our minds in will affect us.

    How and how much it will affect us are debatable, but the standard Slashdot denials seem a bit naive.
  • good point (Score:3, Interesting)

    i am perfectly happy to backtrack and say that all of my words should only apply to handguns as you say, not the nebulous concept of a firearm, which can include things like rifles for hunting deer, etc. because my original point was to have people look closely at what a tech was designed for: it's intent. rifles are clearly for hunting deer. handguns are clearly for killing people. so your point is well taken, and i adjust my argument accordingly, thank you for pointing that out
  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:05PM (#18404557) Homepage Journal
    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.

    And that, of course, is the key issue. Jack Thompson, et al, want to regulate what everyone can do, based on the small percentage of people who apparently can't handle the fine distinction between fantasy and reality.

    It's all part of the increasing tend towards nanny-stateism, and in my opinion a direct product of many people's lack of faith in the ability of other people around them. If you think that everyone around you is an idiot unfit to make decisions for themselves, it's easier to rationalize giving control over everyone's lives up to some jackbooted Authority Figure.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:57PM (#18405217)
    Racing games have changed the way I drive. I generally take the "racing lin e" when going through corners, within the limits of staying in my lane and so forth. I actively avoid braking while cornering, unlike many other drivers, because racing games taught me this decreases your traction and is actually more likely to cause loss of control than going through at whatever speed you've got. Brake before, not during! In general, I think racing games have improved my car-handling abilities--I can instinctively countersteer, I know when to brake and when to accelerate for best control, and in general I have a better idea of how cars act on the limits of handling. I guess I'm a more aggressive driver, but I don't think I'm significantly more dangerous because of it.

    It's worth noting I prefer racing sims over arcade racers--I.e. Live for Speed instead of Need for Speed.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't say I'm an excellent driver. My attentive abilities are dismal--I can't talk to people in the car, even passengers, because I start failing to notice people stopping in front of me. I miss exits all the time, and I back into signs getting out of parking spaces. But none of this can really be connected to video games--it's just me.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson