Study: Violence doesn't change game appeal

Written by Joe Martin

January 19, 2009 // 9:57 a.m.

Tags: #blood #gore #gory-games #hl2 #study #violence

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.
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