Reckless driving attributed to racing games

Written by Brett Thomas

March 20, 2007 // 9:01 a.m.

Tags: #automobile #driving #gran-turismo #insurance #racing-game

Fasten your four-point harnesses, racing fans; the video game industry is under siege again as a blame for real world actions. But this time it will likely be followed up by an industry willing to spend a boatload on worthwhile data - insurance companies. And recent studies have shown that racing games make worse drivers, enough so that they could start having an effect on your premiums.

The first study has been a while in the making, and even has been incorporated into Germany's driving license test. Those who lose their license for bad driving must pass a large test to get it back, which includes a video-game driving session. These results were being monitored (along with the drivers) to see the correlation between the bad driving and a video-game version of it.

A group of German psychologists headed the study, and the results were pretty interesting. Not all racing games are bad for you, but the way you drive in one is pretty indicative of how you drive Apparently, the drivers who engage in more 'crash and bang' styles of racing have similar tendencies away from the monitor glow - and the behaviour can escalate the more critical the situation is.

Another lower-grade survey study of 200 drivers showed that both men and women who said they enjoy and regularly play racing games also had a higher frequency of accidents. And though 200 people may not sound like a lot, the laws of statistics have illustrated that an extremely small sample size can be amazingly accurate - though details of how the study was conducted would certainly come into play. A third study illustrated that men who play racing games before a simulation of a critical traffic situation took much riskier actions. Again, neither study details nor links were included, and I've not been able to find the published research.

The studies all provide a cautionary note, particularly since racing games are one genre that often gets a low age-rating. Ten-year-olds everywhere are currently learning poor driving habits that could cause them to take more severe risks on the road. Millions have died, could your kid be next? Turn to FOX News at 11 for the full story.

Fortunately for us, these particular studies won't go unnoticed. The insurance industry is not about to leave a bona fide risk factor go undetermined, so odds are a few more official studies will be requested. If that's the case, we may get a real study one way or another as to whether some elements of virtual life really do point to real-world actions.

Do you have a thought on the studies? Tell us your opinions in our forums.

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