Competitiveness From Video Games Influences Aggression


According to new research, competitiveness in game titles may be a characteristic that influences aggression on users who play them.

Researchers found after analyzing a number of experiments in which game titles were matched on competitiveness, difficulty, and pace of action that gaming violence was not the only thing that related to aggressive behavior.

According to the research, more competitive games produced greater amounts of aggressive behavior than less competitive games. 

The study in one experiment contained 42 college students who played 1 of 2 game titles, “Conan” or “Fuel”, for 12 minutes.  The game “Conan” is a violent game where the main character battles for surviving using swords and axes, while “Fuel” is a nonviolent racing game.

Both games in the study were rated evenly in terms of competitiveness, difficulty and pace of action, but differently in terms of violence.  After participants finished playing the game, these were told they were going to take part in a separate food tasting study. 

The participants needed to make up a cup of hot sauce for any “taster” who these were told didn’t particularly like hot or spicy food.  The participants could then select from one of four different hot sauces, from least hot to most hot. 

The authors discovered that there was no factor within the intensity and amount of the sauces made by the participants who played “Conan” and people who played “Fuel”.  I was told that that video game violence alone wasn’t sufficient to raise aggressive behavior.

The second study included 60 university students who played four video games:  “Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe”, “Left 4 Dead 2”, “Marble Blast Ultra” and “Fuel”.  Each game represented another level of competitiveness, difficulty, pace of action or violence.

The 60 students in this study also completed exactly the same hot sauce taste test in the first study.  Electrocardiograms measured the participants’ heart rates before and through video game play.

Paul J.C. Adachi, M.A., a PhD candidate at Brock University in Canada and lead author of the study, asserted students who played the highly competitive games “Fuel” and “Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe” on average prepared significantly hotter sauce than participants who played “Marble Blast Ultra” and “Left 4 Dead 2,” minimal competitive games.

“These findings suggest that the amount of competitiveness in video games is a vital element in the relation between video games and aggressive behavior, with highly competitive games leading to greater elevations in aggression than less competitive games,” wrote Adachi.

The new information was published by the American Psychological Association in their journal Psychology of Violence.

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