New Research: How Video Games Change You In The Real World!

22 May

If you play video games, you are not alone. According to the Entertainment Software Association, as of 2013, 58% of Americans play video games. There is an average of two gamers in each game-playing household in the United States (US). The average US household owns at least one dedicated game console, PC, or smartphone. Fifty-one percent of US households own a dedicated game console, and those who do, own an average of two. The average age of a game player is 30 years old and there are more people over the age of 36 playing video games (36%) than between the ages of 18-35 (32%), with 32% being under the age of 18. With so many people playing, and with such a wide age group, the finding of a new study could be very important.
The study reported by the Association for Psychological Science found that how you represent yourself in video games may affect the way you behave and treat others in real life. They reported, “Our results indicate that just five minutes of role-play in virtual environments as either a hero or villain can easily cause people to reward or punish anonymous strangers.” One experiment studied 194 undergraduates. The participants were randomly assigned to a villain, hero, or neutral avatar in the game. They played the game for five minutes. During that five minutes, their avatar (their identity in the game) fought against enemies. After the five minutes ended, the participants took part in a taste test that they believed was not part of the study. In this taste test, they were asked to taste both a chocolate and a chili sauce and then decide which one and how much to give to the next participant.
According to the Association For Psychological Science, “The results were revealing: Participants who played as [the hero] poured, on average, nearly twice as much chocolate as chili sauce for the ‘future participant.’ And they poured significantly more chocolate than those who played as either of the other avatars. Participants who played as the villain, on the other hand, poured out nearly twice as much of the spicy chili sauce than they did chocolate, and they poured significantly more chili sauce compared to the other participants.”
A second, similar experiment of 125 graduates confirmed these finding. According to the lead author of the study, “In virtual environments, people can freely choose avatars that allow them to opt into or out of a certain entity, group, or situation… Consumers and practitioners should remember that powerful imitative effects can occur when people put on virtual masks.”

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