Study Shows Aggression From Video Games Linked to "Incompetence"

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Study Shows Aggression From Video Games Linked to "Incompetence"

The University of Oxford cites aggression after playing video games are more likely to be linked to gameplay mechanics rather than violent in-game content, with the research group using Half-Life 2 as their test game.

While some criticizers are quick to point to violent video games as to why some people get physical and aggressive, that might not be the case if a recent study from the University of Oxford is to be believed. Published by BBC, the report states that games that have counter-intuitive or frustrating controls or gameplay mechanics produced more aggressive reactions from people. The research, which had its findings published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, sought to establish whether it was violence in video games that made players feel aggressive, or a combination of other factors. One of the studies involved modifying Valve's Half-Life 2, where the researchers created a "modified version" in which instead of killing enemies, the player can "tag" foes instead, and they'd then evaporate. This version was tested along with the normal, violent version, to a group of subjects. But one key difference was only some of the gamers were given a tutorial before playing the shooter, so they could familiarize themselves with Half-Life 2's game mechanics and controls. Researchers found that it was players who didn't undergo the tutorial that felt less competent and more aggressive, instead of the people who played the graphic version of the game.

According to Dr. Andrew Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute, who carried out the research along with colleagues from the University of Rochester in the US, "If players feel thwarted by the controls or the design of the game, they can wind up feeling aggressive...This need to master the game was far more significant than whether the game contained violent material." Dr. Przybylski adds, "Players of games without any violent content were still feeling pretty aggressive if they hadn't been able to master the controls or progress through the levels at the end of the session," and he also states, "We focused on the motives of people who play electronic games and found players have a psychological need to come out on top when playing,"

"Further research is needed into longer-term effects of video game violence beyond initial feelings of aggression.," states Dr. Przybylski. His colleague, and co-author Professor Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester adds, "The study is not saying that violent content doesn't affect gamers, but our research suggests that people are not drawn to playing violent games in order to feel aggressive..Rather, the aggression stems from feeling not in control or incompetent while playing." Ryan finishes by saying, "If the structure of a game or the design of the controls thwarts enjoyment, it is this not the violent content that seems to drive feelings of aggression."

While not conclusive proof that violent video games don't turn people into aggressive sociopaths, this is at least a step in the right direction and gives us a further understanding as to how some games might cause aggressive behavior in some people, instead of just blaming violent games as the cause.

Source: BBC

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This just in! Millions of Dark Souls players rampaging across the nation!

So this study was used to prove what pretty much every gamer knows allready?

That games they suck at make them far more aggressive? Dudes shoulda just watched some Let's Play of Electronic SuperJoy.

I like figuring stuff out. That wouldn't make me aggressive. But then, I'm a science geek with a degree in physics and the only thing that frustrates me is other people's incompetence. If I feel like I'm getting increasingly frustrated I just turn the thing off. I like my peace of mind and clarity of thought.

You know what is more frustrating than sucking at games? Watching other people suck at games. Especially games like Portal.

well i would certainly believe this there are times when i have wanted to snap my keyboard in half while playing xcom on impossible difficulty

controls are sure one of them but this study does not really proof much which every normal gamer knows.

So a multiplayer component of games (lack of control) that may be caused by gaming factors (lag, cheats, poor design via camping/level design) [compounded by] the harassment that comes with may lead to post gaming aggressive tendencies? Who would have thunk!!

DrunkenElfMage:
So this study was used to prove what pretty much every gamer knows allready?

Metalrocks:
controls are sure one of them but this study does not really proof much which every normal gamer knows.

I think this study is more for the 'violent games make people aggressive' crowd. Ofcourse the gaming populous already knows this, but it doesn't stop others from staring themselves blind on the violent aspect. I reckon this study won't change their minds, but it's good back-up data nonetheless for when the time comes.

This is a nice confirmation. now i can point at this whenever i punch my keyboard for enemy AI cheating (or me sucking and blaming enemy AI). For some reason, when i play with actual players - that doesnt happen. i guess with real people i understand its just two folks beating eachother while with AI i want to be in control.

They should see what LoL does to gamers... and that game has no gritty violence or realism to it what so ever

When you think about it, it does make sense. Just look at children in a classroom the biggest bullies are those who either can't do the tasks or the tasks are too easy for them. Boredom and frustrations leads to misbehavior.

I work as curator and assistant conductor in 2 Junior orchestras. And few years ago I realized how to control the trio of misbehaving percussionists and few others. I walked up to them asked what is the hard bit. And played/explained/showed how to do it. And after a while they were really calm and well behaved. (I don't really have any other example from my life).

I am generally a calm person and don't mind learning mechanics myself (Unless they are batshit insane 20 step enigmas to do just basic thing, I just get bored at that point).
But something that drives me to fury and hate is whenever I see that AI CLEARLY cheats.

This is propably why I like "Super Meat Boy", but loathe "I Wanna Be The Guy".
In both games, you fully understand the controls, but in SMB, you also fully understand the gameworld. Every time you fail, it's something you see coming and just failed to counter.
In IWBTG, you can never see a death coming the first time. You can't blame yourself for failure, so you blame the game design. I know it kind of the point of IWBTG, I just don't like it, and if it wasn't such an elaborate joke game, these mechanics wouldn't be as well received.

Adam Jensen:
I like figuring stuff out. That wouldn't make me aggressive. But then, I'm a science geek with a degree in physics and the only thing that frustrates me is other people's incompetence. If I feel like I'm getting increasingly frustrated I just turn the thing off. I like my peace of mind and clarity of thought.

You know what is more frustrating than sucking at games? Watching other people suck at games. Especially games like Portal.

With games... that can only get you so far in some cases.

There have been games that refused to explain themselves properly... as in... not have a functional or useful tutorial at all... or not even try to have one at all...

and the controls and mechanics were either incredibly complex (as in say... X3), or the controls weren't designed in a logical fashion (which can happen a lot when a console developer tries to adapt the control scheme to a keyboard when they make a PC port... or vice versa) or say... the puzzles in an adventure game only make logical sense if you're on the same cocktail of drugs that the developers were on when they made it.

Or when developers have very unreasonable expectations from their players like in say... Riven the second Myst game... where a key puzzle required you to decipher an entirely alien numerical system after they only give you the first 10 numbers.

Granted, you only really have to work out the system up to 25... but...

the way they give you the first ten?

A children's toy where you have to count the number of times that a little toy prisoner drops closer to his death... and if you miscount (which is VERY easy to do), it screws everything up, and you won't realize it until hours later.

As far as I can tell... the devs of Riven seemed to think their audience was made up entirely out of Trig majors.

Did that puzzle frustrate the hell out of me? Yes.

Did it make me more aggressive? No. And I was about... eight years old when I was trying to beat Riven on my own. In the end I went "screw it" and saved up for the Prima Guide (this was slightly before GameFAQS came along) I'd pretty much solved just about everything else in the game on my own... but that one puzzle...

aaarrrrrrrrgggggg am gonna punch a tin of beans

Videogames don't turn people into sociopaths; asshole bosses, bitchy girlfriends and backstabbing friends does.

I'm speaking as a sociopath with an apathy to all things violence and cruel in videogames and other media, however I still like cats, dogs an other animals. It's humans that I hate.

TheSYLOH:
This just in! Millions of Dark Souls players rampaging across the nation!

I can definitely get irrationally angry at games sometimes. As a kid, I once snapped a disk in half. Even as an adult, I will sometimes get frustrated enough to yell out.

I've completed Dark Souls twice and I'm currently playing Demon's Souls and never really felt angry like that though. Same thing with something like Super Meat Boy or Spelunky. The deaths in all of those games usually felt fair; it always felt like it was my fault. If anything, Dark Souls would give me that, "I can't take this," feeling, but that didn't create aggression. If I actually did a bunch of PVP, that would probably annoy me since lag can create phantom damage. And hackers.

I would say that the Trials games are fair but they would drive me crazy though. Failing at the same 5-second seemingly physically impossible obstacle over 100 times would eventually drive me nuts.

I'm not sure how I survived my teenage years playing "Nintendo Hard" games. Those were filled with clearly cheating AI (Super Tecmo Bowl) and utter BS deaths (Ninja Gaiden).

Wanna know something else that causes increased feelings of violence and aggression? Sports!
Out of all the studies performed on video games and aggression, I've yet to see a comparison to physical exertion and competition in sports, which I think is a far more relevant analogy to make than just making references to violent content.
Sports can turn people rabid, as is regularly seen in sports-related riots across the globe.
Yet, I see no politicians lobbying for protecting our children from phys.ed. :/

Like the saying goes: video games don't cause aggression, lag does.

SinisterGehe:
When you think about it, it does make sense. Just look at children in a classroom the biggest bullies are those who either can't do the tasks or the tasks are too easy for them. Boredom and frustrations leads to misbehavior.

I work as curator and assistant conductor in 2 Junior orchestras. And few years ago I realized how to control the trio of misbehaving percussionists and few others. I walked up to them asked what is the hard bit. And played/explained/showed how to do it. And after a while they were really calm and well behaved. (I don't really have any other example from my life).

I am generally a calm person and don't mind learning mechanics myself (Unless they are batshit insane 20 step enigmas to do just basic thing, I just get bored at that point).
But something that drives me to fury and hate is whenever I see that AI CLEARLY cheats.

That's a very good example. Thanks for sharing. :)

What causes anger and frustration? Violent videogames?


What causes more anger and frustration then that?

What causes more anger and frustration then that?

What causes more anger and frustration then that?

What causes more anger and frustration then that?

If we find the next level it might mean nerd riots in the street. Am I forgetting any?

They should do a study on whether gamers watching other gamers suck at games make them more mad than if they're simply sucking at playing the game themselves cause oh boy.

None of these studies are ever valid because they never use a valid measure for violent behavior, nor do they every make a long-term comparison.

If you play 5 minutes of league of legends, you would already know this.
It can turn the most benign person into a raving lunatic.
The "angry video game nerd" has been a stereotype for over a decade now for a reason.

Who keeps paying for all these studies? Seriously?? Also I could've told them that.

Which also may explain why pretty much every PVP game is rife with ragers jerkwads and griefers. Because there always has to be a loser so someone somewhere is getting that negative feeling of incompetence. It doesn't even have to be the fault of the game, just the player feeling outsmarted and helpless.

Next they should conduct a study on the effects of LoL's community on the psychology of gamers.

I'd believe this. Despite years of practice I still suck at most video games and get very aggressive when things don't work right.

So there you go, I am halfway to a psychopath and it is ALL the fault of video games!

Adam Jensen:
I like figuring stuff out. That wouldn't make me aggressive. But then, I'm a science geek with a degree in physics and the only thing that frustrates me is other people's incompetence. If I feel like I'm getting increasingly frustrated I just turn the thing off. I like my peace of mind and clarity of thought.

You know what is more frustrating than sucking at games? Watching other people suck at games. Especially games like Portal.

Oh wow, did you say it. I remember watching that Father struggle through the first couple of Levels of Portal.....Deep Hurting.

@ Iseko. I cannot see any of your answers. I am missing Funny's on ther Internet, my aggressive Nerd Rage is spiralling out of control!

TheSYLOH:
This just in! Millions of Dark Souls players rampaging across the nation!

AAARRRGGGHHHHH!, damn ninjas!, right in the VERY first post! >.<'

OT: Yeah, this study is kinda bullshit from where I see it. Big part of the appeal in Dark Souls is figuring out stuff on your own and I don't go out rampaging after a session of Dark Souls.

EDIT: The only thing that might get me incredibly annoyed is lag, especially with my shitty Wi-Fi connection, I'm >this< close to go out on a rampage when I'm playing Guild Wars 2 and BAM!, right to the login screen while I was on the middle of a fight -_-'

Tell me about it. I've been playing the Amazing Spider-Man, and the crappy mechanics rile me worse than anything I've ever seen in a shooter or crime game.

Casual Shinji:
I reckon this study won't change their minds, but it's good back-up data nonetheless for when the time comes.

What time, exactly? Just surious.

The problem is, I doubt any of these studies will change the minds of anyone on either side, and I doubt those who are undecided in this case make much of a difference. I mean, I find it interesting, but I don't know if there's any use to the study.

Piorn:
This is propably why I like "Super Meat Boy", but loathe "I Wanna Be The Guy".
In both games, you fully understand the controls, but in SMB, you also fully understand the gameworld. Every time you fail, it's something you see coming and just failed to counter.
In IWBTG, you can never see a death coming the first time. You can't blame yourself for failure, so you blame the game design. I know it kind of the point of IWBTG, I just don't like it, and if it wasn't such an elaborate joke game, these mechanics wouldn't be as well received.

Indeed, IWTBTG seems to have its roots in the classic game with wonky controls and "unfair": surprises designed to separate you from your tokens. Which persisted outside of the arcade. SMB, on the other hands, is retro in a lot of sense, but tight controls and relatively straightforward gameplay has gone a somewhat different route. And in SMB, you at least get the comfort of knowing if you fail, it's likely because you screwed up.

canadamus_prime:
Who keeps paying for all these studies? Seriously?? Also I could've told them that.

Because in scientific study, nothing is ever a given until you can test it. Not even "common sense" stuff.

Zachary Amaranth:

Casual Shinji:
I reckon this study won't change their minds, but it's good back-up data nonetheless for when the time comes.

What time, exactly? Just surious.

Whenever by some mind boggling fluke a serious case gets made to create a law against violent games.

Not that it ever will, but you never can be too certain. It happened to comic books once.

I'm curious about this alleged "tutorial". Half-Life 2 (like most modern games) doesn't even have a tutorial; it uses button prompts to show players what controls do what, and lets them figure out the rest on their own. Even if you modded out those prompts, not knowing which button is "pick up that can and put it in the bin/throw it at the Combine officer" can only frustrate you for the 30 seconds it takes you to figure it out from trial and error.

seditary:
They should do a study on whether gamers watching other gamers suck at games make them more mad than if they're simply sucking at playing the game themselves cause oh boy.

I know exactly whose videos they should use for this study, but her name escapes me at the moment.

Maybe these guys should look at what soccer does to people...

Ah, the Escapist. We all love science until it potentially challenges things we care about, eh? And of course, our own personal opinions and "common sense" trump the scientific method...why do people even bother doing studies of anything when we can just use anecdotes?!

Surely we should replace the researchers at the University of Oxford with the brilliant minds of this illustrious gaming site!

OT: Can't say for sure as I'm not about to pay $12 for the study, but it seems like the methodology they used for isolating frustration and violence separately is sound. As they say, this is only a study on short term effects related to frustration in gaming.

chikusho:
Wanna know something else that causes increased feelings of violence and aggression? Sports!
Out of all the studies performed on video games and aggression, I've yet to see a comparison to physical exertion and competition in sports, which I think is a far more relevant analogy to make than just making references to violent content.
Sports can turn people rabid, as is regularly seen in sports-related riots across the globe.
Yet, I see no politicians lobbying for protecting our children from phys.ed. :/

Why would you expect to see a comparison of sports and aggression in a study about video games and aggression??

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