Violent Video Games

Wendy Ingorvaia angry gamerAccording to a recent study, the prevalence of violence in video games are able to improve your mood and reduce stress, but also could increase aggression.  The study, authored by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, looked at how video games could be used to manage emotions.  More specifically, they looked to see whether playing these games was able to improve peoples’ moods.  Participants in the study included 82 undergraduate communication students, most of whom had little experience with video games.

For the experiment, half of the subjects were asked to play a frustrating video game, designed to be nearly impossible to complete.  However, the subjects were led to believe that they should be able to get through all of the levels in 10 minutes.  The other half of students skipped the frustrating game and went directly to the next phase of the study.  The frustrated and unfrustrated students were then given a PlayStation 3 game, either a nonviolent one called “LittleBigPlanet 2”, or a violent one called “Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage”.  They were allowed to play for 18 minutes, and then filled out a questionnaire about their emotions and feelings about the game.

Investigators discovered that frustrated players were motivated to progress further in the games, which decreased their frustration and boosted their feelings of competency, increasing their enjoyment of both games.  However, those players who enjoyed the violent game also tended to perceive the world in a more hostile way than those who played the nonviolent game.  These findings suggest that video games can be used to manage negative emotions, but doing so with more violent games could prove problematic.  The authors of the study have recommended that if somebody wants to use video games for emotional release, then potential players should look for nonviolent games.