There have been several studies analyzing the effects of video games, due to the great controversy these games have created. One study from 2011 indicated that teen aggression is increased by playing violent games.
Some scientists have suggested that how each player perceives characters and events within a game might be an important factor in determining the decisions they need to make for certain actions in a scene.
This study, in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, observed whether ethical decisions are made because the characters are considered as real people to the individual player, and whether these choices are made to avoid a guilty conscious.
In order to identify the impact these decisions have on emotional reactions to the games, 75 volunteers aged 18 to 24 who reported an average of 7.5 hours per week spent on playing video games were asked to fill out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) to measure their different ideas on morality.
Participants played the game Fallout 3 on Xbox 360, and then were asked to fill out another questionnaire, regarding their reactions to the game and the moral choices they made.
The MFQ was able to predict individual differences in decision making. Results showed that most of the subjects thought of the characters as real, and any interactions made with them were interpreted as actual interpersonal interactions, which, in turn, caused them to make ethical choices.
Although behaving antisocially was found to have no effect on enjoyment, it did increase the player's guilt.
Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA, concluded:
"Although preliminary, these results point to the utility of games as teaching and educational tools, as well as important tools for the assessment of behavior. These findings indicate how real the virtual world can become when one suspends disbelief and immerses oneself in the scenario."
Previous research has shown that game players bring the virtual world into real life, indicating that teens who play mature-rated risk-glorifying games have a higher risk of becoming reckless drivers.
Written by Sarah Glynn