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For us gamers the experiences of failure and frustration are part of our everyday life. Have you ever felt angry and annoyed when having problems at defeating a challenging boss fight or losing to another team during an online multiplayer match? It’s quite a common thing to see big medias accusing video games’ disturbing and violent content for causing aggression to gamers, but is the content really the reason what causes the aggression? Are games doing something to people that other things in this world don’t?
A new study shows hostile behavior isn’t actually linked to game’s violent content but to gamers’ experience of failure and feeling of frustration during the gameplay. This may be something what has been clear for us gamers for a long time, but now there’s actually a study to support our thoughts. As crazy as it may sound many studies have only focused on games’ content not on players’ psychological experiences, according to ScienceDaily. University of Rochester was one of the very first to actually take a closer look at the players’ psychological experiences with games.
According to co-author Richard Ryan, aggressive behavior isn’t unique to gaming, and the same phenomena appears in sports as well when players lose a game as a result of a bad call.
“When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” he explains. “We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone’s competencies, they’ll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.”
How the study was executed?
Almost 600 college-aged participants were asked to play custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. To find out which aspects cause the aggressive feelings, the researches manipulated the interface, controls and degree of difficulty. They also used different kinds of violent and non-violent games during the research.
In one experiment, players were randomly asked to play easier or more challenging version of Tetris after they had held their hand in the painfully cold water for 25 seconds. The researchers led them to believe that the length of time was determined by previous participant, but in reality, all participants were assigned the same duration. After participants have played the game for a while they were asked to assign the amount of time a future participant would have to leave their hand in the water. Players who played the more difficult version of Tetris assigned on average 10 seconds more of cold water pain for the next player than the people who get to play the easier version of the game.
Across the experiments, researchers found the lack of mastery of the game’s controls and the high difficulty players had completing the game led to frustration – not the imaginary or visuals. It seems that aggression is a negative side effect of the frustration felt while playing the video game. One of the researches explained that non-violent games like Candy Crush and Tetris can actually cause more aggressive behavior than shooters, if their controls are poorly designed or games are just too difficult.
“When the experience involves threats to our ego, it can cause us to be hostile and mean to others,” Ryan explains.
The researchers also surveyed 300 gamers to identify how real world gamers might experience the same phenomena. When asked about pre- and post-game feelings, gamers reported the same things that the research proved before – inability to master a game or its controls causes feelings of frustration and affects to the enjoyment in the experience.
The researchers say that the findings offer an important contribution to the debate about the effects of violent video games. Ryan says that many critics of video games have been premature in their conclusions that violent video games cause aggression. “It’s a complicated area, and people have simplistic views,” he explains, noting that nonviolent games like Tetris or Candy Crush can leave players as, if not more, aggressive than games with violence, if they’re poorly designed or too difficult.
Original Report & Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Rochester. Original report was written by ScienceDaily who may have edited the materials for content and length. Square Portal wrote a summary of their earlier report.
- Andrew K. Przybylski, Edward L. Deci, C. Scott Rigby, Richard M. Ryan. Competence-impeding electronic games and players’ aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014; 106 (3): 441 DOI: 10.1037/a0034820