Study: Violence doesn't change game appeal

Study: Violence doesn't change game appeal

According to the results fo a recent study, gamers are not attracted by in-game gore as much as previously thought.

A new study into violence in computer games has found that violent gameplay does not make games more appealing to players, despite the popular consensus.

The study was published on Friday in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Via Kotaku) and told how researchers polled more than 2,500 gamers before conducting four separate tests on a sample of 300.

The test involved given groups two different Half-Life 2 mods to play. In the first game players were given a shotgun and the levels of gore were amped up, while the second mod gave players a 'psychic power' that caused enemies to drift quietly upwards before disappearing. The first mod was presented to players as a "kill or be killed" game, while the second was essentially a grandiose game of tag.

At the end of the game players were asked whether they would like to play again and rated how much they enjoyed the game, but the trend that emerged showed no direct correlation between violence and enjoyability.

"The reason why children gravitate to something like 'Halo,' 'Halo 3' or 'World of Warcraft' or 'Team Fortress' isn't necessarily because they want to get at the blood or the acts of violence," said lead author Andrew Przybylski from Rochester University.

"We found that, on average, violent content didn't add to motivation for play."

As a result, the study has advised that if developers want to make more enjoyable games then they should focus on creating experiences where gamers can play together, feel competent and act autonomously.

"That's probably a better place for them to put their efforts than being able to very realistically depict someone's arm falling off."

What do you think? Does violence appeal to you in games, or are you as happy with Tetris as you are with Soldier of Fortune? Let us know in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
Naberius 19th January 2009, 10:02 Quote
I have to agree, sometimes the gore just seems like an easy way to hide an otherwise crap game with no story line.
biebiep 19th January 2009, 10:13 Quote
On the other hand.

Who doesn't like cutting open some Locusts with blood splattering all over your screen in GoW xD

Kind of lame study though.
I'd be just as amused having Psychic powers than I am when shotgunning other ppl to bits.

Hell, even if the game was just sneaking up on the other guy and pushing him off a ledge I'd be laughing my ass off and liking the game.
It's not about the gore, it's about killing your opponents in ways you never deemed possible :)
liratheal 19th January 2009, 10:21 Quote
Gore is the easy way to hide crap game design, but I prefer the option to take limbs off with a shotgun (Soldier of Fortune, for example) to a well designed and thought out story - It takes the edge off a **** day really well.
proxess 19th January 2009, 10:36 Quote
Tetris do Soldier of Fortune? Tetris any day! Tetris to Half-Life and anything related? Half Life any day!
Xen0phobiak 19th January 2009, 11:08 Quote
I'll aim my hunting rifle at boomers please.
Bladestorm 19th January 2009, 12:59 Quote
I'd agree with the conclusions mostly, gameplay over gore anyday.

Probably worth noting that soldier of fortune for one, made use of its dismemberment to add to gameplay as much as amp up the gore, where what they are talking about here I believe is more gore without any gameplay effect.
Mentai 19th January 2009, 13:40 Quote
Sometimes I think games would be cooler with gore amped up. Like if when I hunter was flying towards you it got torn to shreds by your gunfire instead of just being flung away, yeah.... That'd be cool. In general though I don't think it factors into fun value.
Zurechial 19th January 2009, 16:21 Quote
Gameplay over gore, sure, but shooters that don't give some feeling of 'impact' (blood, gore, satisfying 'pain animation', ragdoll physics) when shooting enemies just aren't satisfying to play in my view.

Maybe it's just my morbid side showing, but I find combat in a game such as Counter Strike: Source or Left 4 Dead much more satisfying to play than other shooters because victims of combat in those games show visible wounds when (& where) shot, have satisfying ragdoll physics and visceral, punchy impact sounds.
The holy grail of such 'impact satisfaction' is probably the headshot in CSS - I could be alone on this one, but it exemplifies the morbid immersion I'm talking about here.

Gore for the sake of gore and its mere shock-factor is juvenile and a lame attempt at pulling tesosterone-fuelled gamers in, but gore when handled properly lends a lot to the satisfaction factor of violent games for me.

Sound effects play a big part in it too. It's not all about visuals and physics.
Compare the weak, unsatisfying 'paf paf paf' of the pistol in HL2 to the Plasma rifle with its 'zump zump zump' (technical jargon here, I know).

Historically-speaking, gore has been pretty lame in most games for reasons of technological limitations. Soldier of Fortune 2 was very gory, but every character deformed in the same way, with various dismemberment-zones set out in the model file of each actor.
This resulted in a gore system where the victim's body was split into separable 'chunks' instead of being a mass of muscles, bones and viscera contained within stretchy (and tear-able) skin.
I'd imagine (and honestly, hope) that simulating realistic 'gore physics' in next-gen games isn't very high in the priority lists of most developers, but I think it'd make gore a matter of real immersion instead of a gimmick if it could be rendered and simulated better than it has been in the past.

For the record: I'm not psychotic. I swear.
johnnyboy700 20th January 2009, 08:21 Quote
I prefer fast paced action to guts and gore, I agree that the gore quotient can often be used to hide poor game design but there are some games that are the exception. Personally I liked F.E.A.R. a lot and Doom was fun, Bioshock was pretty gruesome in places as well. I reckon it depends on the shock factor as well, which I suppose will be subjective.

I've never played either of the Postal games but I did hear that whilst the were over the top with the gore, I seem to recall that the first game did get some good reviews for the gameplay. I've got a copy of the first two SoF games (picked them up for a couple of quid in Gamestation) but I've never even loaded them, I'll probably try them some day when I'm really bored.
boiled_elephant 25th January 2009, 04:17 Quote
Most of the time, gore is kinda redundant and distracting in a game.

But then again...


Gears is the ultimate stress reliever. No matter how I'm feeling, the chainsaw executions just make me grin like an idiot.

I'd say gore doesn't matter, but if the game centres around violence of any kind, a lack of gore can actually break the realism quite badly. Crysis, for example, is badly in need of realistic bullet wounds - I know it sounds a bit depraved, but the game just looks so damn realistic that it shatters the immersion when you shoot someone twice in the face and there's no bullet markings or blood at all.
The_Beast 25th January 2009, 06:27 Quote
The blood and gore in Fallout 3 is pretty good and the game play is too

I love it when you enter VATS (aim at a specific body parts and have a cinematic replay of the action) and blow up the enemies head with blood on the walls, eyeballs on the floor, and limbs 20 feet away and if it's a good hit there will be nothing but a bloody rib cage, intestines, hands and feet throw in every which way
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