Game, Not Gore, Keeps Video Players Playing

FRIDAY Jan. 16, 2009 -- It's the challenge of a video game, not the violence or gore it depicts, that keeps players playing, a new study says.

Bloodiness, in fact, actually detracts from a game's "fun factor" for most players, according to the findings from the University of Rochester and Immersyve Inc., a firm that researches gamers' experiences.

The study, published online Jan. 16 in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, contradicts the popular notion that violence adds to the gaming experience.

"For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was not a plus," study lead author Andrew Przybylski, a Rochester graduate student, said in a news release issued by the university.

Even the small subgroup of players who generally report being more aggressive in life and preferring violent content said they didn't receive increased joy from the gruesomeness, Przybylski added.

The research, consisting of two online surveys and four experimental studies, found that overcoming hurdles, getting a feeling of accomplishment and having multiple choices for strategy and action appealed the most to seasoned video gamers and novices alike.

Conflict and war served only as a common and powerful setting for offering those "core reasons that people find games so entertaining and compelling," co-author Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the university, said in the same news release.

The result of the findings, one researcher said, might actually be less violence in new games.

"Much of the debate about game violence has pitted the assumed commercial value of violence against social concern about the harm it may cause," study co-investigator Scott Rigby, president of Immersyve, said in the news release. "Our study shows that the violence may not be the real value component, freeing developers to design away from violence while at the same time broadening their market."

The research team is now investigating what motivates people, whether casual or hard-core gamers, to play video games at all.

"Initially, many games are perceived as being fun," Rigby said. "Much of our work is focused on understanding when games reach to deeper levels of satisfaction that often sustain engagement over time and [identifying] both the healthy and unhealthy aspects of that play."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and video games.

SOURCE: University of Rochester, news release, Jan. 16, 2009

Posted: January 2009


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