A surprising new study has revealed that violence in videogames actually helps boost the effectiveness of in-game advertising, despite the fact that players spend less time looking at the ads.
It doesn't make much sense on the surface: When you're busy running down innocent citizens and trying to see through gobs of greasy red blood smeared across your windshield, you just don't have a lot of time to spend looking at billboards for Monster Lo-Carb or the next big thing from EA Sports. Yet according to a study conducted by American and European researchers, players of violent videogames actually exhibit better retention of in-game ads than people who play non-violent games.
Test subjects played one of two versions of a simple driving game called AdRacer, developed by André Melzer of the University of Luxembourg. In the non-violent version of the game, players would drive along a course, scoring points by hitting targets; in the violent version, subjects scored points by running down pedestrians, resulting in a blood-spattered windshield and, one would think, a far cooler gaming experience.
"Unobtrusive graphical ads" were displayed in the game as roadside billboards, while players' eye movements were tracked to determine what they were looking at. Players of the violent version of the game "showed fewer and shorter eye fixations on the billboard ads," according to the study abstract, yet demonstrated "superior brand retrieval" when compared to those who played the non-violent version.
The results run contrary to similar research conducted on television viewers, which came to the more expected conclusion that violence distracts viewers from advertising. "Hence, caution seems to be recommended in transferring standard results from the 'passive' TV medium to the interactive game medium," the study abstract warned.
Source: Technology Review