Playing the villain in video games makes you CRUEL: 'Goody' and 'baddie' role-play is replicated in the real world, claims study

February 10, 2014 1:31 PM

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Playing the villain in video games makes you CRUEL: 'Goody' and 'baddie' role-play is replicated in the real world, claims study

The debate about whether video games can encourage violence is nothing new.

And now a study suggests that people who play video games from a villain’s perspective, become a little bit meaner in the real world.

How gamers represent themselves in the virtual world of video games may affect how they behave toward others in the real world, U.S. researchers have warned.

In the experiment, gamers who played as either heroes, villains or a neutral character were asked to dish out either chocolate or chilli sauce to another blindfolded student to eat.

Those who played as Superman poured on average nearly twice as much chocolate as chilli sauce for an unknown student to consume.

The researchers also discovered that the gamers who played as a hero poured significantly more chocolate than those who played as either of the other avatars, perhaps suggesting that they became more generous.

However, participants who played as Voldemort the villain poured out nearly twice as much of the spicy chilli sauce than they did chocolate, suggesting their desire to inflict discomfort on other participants of the experiment.

They also poured significantly more chilli sauce for students to consume compared to the other participants, the scientists said.

The conducted a novel blind taste test experiment to come to their conclusion.

They recruited 194 undergraduates to explore whether the experiences of taking on heroic or villainous avatars might carry over into everyday behaviour.

Students were randomly assigned to play as Superman (a heroic avatar), Voldemort (a villainous avatar), or a circle (a neutral avatar).

They played a videogame for five minutes in which they, as their avatars, were tasked with fighting enemies.

The students then participated in a blind taste test and were asked to give either chocolate or chilli sauce to another student.

They were told to pour the chosen food item into a plastic dish and that the future participant would consume all of the food provided.

Those who played as Superman poured on average nearly twice as much chocolate as chilli sauce for an unknown student to consume.

The researchers also discovered that the gamers who played as a hero poured significantly more chocolate than those who played as either of the other avatars.

However, participants who played as Voldemort the villain poured out nearly twice as much of the spicy chilli sauce than they did chocolate, suggesting their desire to inflict discomfort on other participants of the experiment.

They also poured significantly more chilli sauce for students to consume compared to the other participants, the scientists said.

A second experiment with 125 undergraduates confirmed the findings and showed that playing as an avatar yielded stronger effects on subsequent behaviour than just watching someone else play as the avatar.

But interestingly, the degree to which participants actually identified with their avatar didn't seem to make a difference.

‘These behaviours occur despite modest, equivalent levels of self-reported identification with heroic and villainous avatars, alike,’ the researchers wrote.

They think that how involved or 'keyed into' the game players are, might be an important factor driving the behavioural effects they observed.

‘In virtual environments, people can freely choose avatars that allow them to opt into or opt out of a certain entity, group, or situation,’ Dr Yoon said.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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