Since quiet many parents worry that when kids play video games they tend to be more violent but scientists have found no evidence to support this theory. In a series of experiments, with more than 3,000 participants, the researchers demonstrated that video game concepts do not ‘prime’ players to behave in certain ways and that increasing the realism of violent video games does not necessarily increase aggression in the players.
The dominant model of learning in games is built on the idea that exposing players to concepts, such as violence in a game, makes those concepts easier to use in ‘real life’. This is known as ‘priming’, and is thought to lead to changes in behaviour. The researchers from the University of York in the UK expanded the number of participants in experiments, compared to studies that had gone before it. They also compared different types of gaming realism to explore whether more conclusive evidence could be found, according to the study published in a journal.
In one study, the participants played a game where they had to either be a car avoiding collisions with trucks or a mouse avoiding being caught by a cat. Following the game, the players were shown various images, such as a bus or a dog, and asked to label them as either a vehicle or an animal. “If players are ‘primed’ through immersing themselves in the concepts of the game, they should be able to categorise the objects associated with this game more quickly in the real world once the game had concluded,” said David Zendle, from the University of York.
“Across the two games we didn’t find this to be the case. Participants who played a car-themed game were no quicker at categorising vehicle images, and indeed in some cases their reaction time was significantly slower,” Zendle said. In a separate, but connected study, the researchers investigated whether realism influenced the aggression of game players.