It seems as though scientists are constantly conducting research that makes the case for video games or against them. Some prove that gaming can lead to aggression or anger problems within players, while others show that a life of regular video gaming can improve concentration and dexterity.
A recent study conducted by Paul J.C. Adachi, M.A., a PhD candidate at Brock University in Canada, discovered that while video game violence alone didn’t increase aggression levels, competitive gameplay did, regardless of the game’s level of violence. This is interesting, because various studies have also found the same results when it comes to competitive sports.
Adachi conducted various experiments where specific video games were matched on difficulty, competitiveness and the pace of action.
During one trial, Adachi took 42 college students, 25 men and 17 women, and had them play one of two different video games for a period of 12 minutes. The games were Conan, a 2007 violent adventure game published by THQ, and Fuel, a 2009 racing game by Asobo Studio.
When the students were finished playing, they were told that they were taking place in a food tasting study and were made to choose a cup of hot sauce for a taster who disliked spicy food. The subjects were able to select from four different sauces for the taster, each grew gradually spicier than the previous.
The scientists discovered that there was no difference in the intensity and amount of hot sauces chosen by the players who played Conan and the subjects who played Fuel.
Adachi concluded that violent video games were not the sole cause of aggressive behavior.
Adachi’s second experiment had a different group of 60 college students, 32 males and 28 females, engage in one of four games – Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which was considered both violent and competitive, L4D2, which was considered violent and moderately competitive, Marble Blast Ultra, a game that wasn’t violent or competitive, and Fuel, the same racing game from the first study.
The subjects’ heart rates were measured before and after the study. Afterward, they were asked to engage in the same hot sauce study test. Students who played the competitive games Fuel and MK vs. DC Universe chose a much hotter sauce than those who played L4D2 and Marble Blast Ultra. Their heart rates were also much higher.
“These findings suggest that the level of competitiveness in video games is an important factor in the relation between video games and aggressive behavior, with highly competitive games leading to greater elevations in aggression than less competitive games,” said Adachi.