New Study: Wii Motion Controls Do Not Increase Negative Effects of Manhunt 2

If you recall the furor surrounding the 2007 release of Manhunt 2, you’ll probably also remember claims by some critics that playing the Wii version of Rockstar’s bloody game would enhance any potential negative effects.

Critics like Jack Thompson and Dr. Michael Rich of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston warned that the Wii’s motion control system would effectively constitute a rehearsal of the body movements used in real-world beating, slashing and stabbing. Dr. Rich said at the time:

Video games are among the most powerful educational tools yet developed… players experience and learn the game’s skills, whether they be based in strategy, logic, or violence. The content of Manhunt 2 and the unique physical interaction with the Wii control combine to take this simulation a level closer to reality – we can expect that the effects of this experience will be even greater.

But new research by Dr. Patrick Markey (left) of Villanova University suggests that motion-controlled game violence has no more effect on the player than sessions in which a standard control device is used. Markey’s study, which examined results from 118 college student participants, has been published in Computers in Human Behavior.

Study subjects first completed a measure of psychoticism and then played either Manhunt 2 or the nonviolent Tiger Woods Golf 2008 using either standard or motion control. Markey’s findings are detailed in the study’s abstract:

Immediately after the video game play period, participants’ current level of hostility and aggressive cognitions were assessed… Results indicated that the use of motion capture controls did not increase the negative effects of violent video games.

All of the news is not good for games, however. Markey also concluded that research subjects who tested higher on the study’s initial measurement of psychoticism were far more prone to being affected by violent games, whichever type of controller was used:

Participants with elevated levels of psychoticism were much more affected by violent video games than other participants. Such findings suggest that only some individuals are adversely affected by violent video games and that those who are affected have preexisting dispositions which make themsusceptible to such violent media.

UPDATE: Read the full report here.

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  1. KayleL says:

    Saying that a Wiimote and a violent video game is going to make you violent is like saying that a baby rattle teaches the baby how to hold a knife and stab.

  2. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Jack, did you ever read my comment in your 11/14 article? If not, I suggest you do.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  3. Paul T. Farinelli says:

    Yeah Jack, because it’s totally reasonable to compare heroine and cocaine to videogames. It’s that type of shit that has given you the (bad) reputation that you now have with most reasonably normal people. In fact, it’s that type of hyperbole and over-exageration that has given you and much of the other fascists who want to impose their views on others in the name of that over-used farce "protect the children", a poor reputation among many.

    Oh, and it’s funny that the disbarred-hack-of-an-attorney seems to waste even more of his time on this site now that he is essentially a bum. Oh wait, but we’re the ones with no lives because we play videogames once in a while, right? (Oh wait, I forgot, you’re not quite a bum, you managed to scrap together a single un-interesting, poorly written news article. My bad.) 

  4. PeVo says:

    "Video games are among the most powerful educational tools yet developed…"

    I wonder if Dr. Rich has heard of these newfangled books that keep on showing up all over the place.

    "The content of Manhunt 2 and the unique physical interaction with the Wii control combine to take this simulation a level closer to reality."

    And to an even greater degree so would chopping wood, or slicing up celery for a nice pasta. It’s not games we should be worried about people, it’s celery.


  5. mogbert says:

    So people who are mentally unhinged are more likely to be set off by video games, while people who are mentally healthy are not likely to be set of by videogames. This does so smack of common sense, however, it is nice that it is backed up in a study, not there aren’t a million studies on the subject already.

    So pretty much the people who are calling for bans on video games could potentially save many more lives by calling for a ban on peanuts, as they cause more deaths then videogames are even wrongly blamed for. And it is a similar set up, only a small percentage of people in any danger, so why not take it away from everyone to only marginally increase the saftey of those few?

  6. BearDogg-X says:

    Dr. Obvious to the O.R. Dr. Obvious to the O.R.

    "Movies don’t create psychos, movies make psychos more creative!" – Billy Loomis, Scream

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  7. janarius says:

    I skimmed the article, but since gamepolitics broke the news so suddenly I haven’t had time to read it in detail. But, on a side note, congratulations to gamepolitics and Jack Thompson for being quoted in Dr.Markey’s article. You are now immortalized in psychology video game research!

  8. GrimCW says:

    heh manhunt 2 on the wii rocks, and alone is worth the price of the console if ya can’t find other games to like on it.

    but to think the controls make it more "violent"? bah.

    though admitedly my GF did nearly clobber me and her sister while she was playing once 🙂 wide swings for punching didn’t pan well in the game either so heh.

  9. A-wel Cruiz says:

    I know you were being sarcastic, but having fun with a Power Glove is an oxymoron.


    *I’d argue with Jack Thompson, but it’s just easier to call him an idiot.*

  10. Derovius says:

     By the same logic, the Nintendo Powerglove is responsible for all the turtle deaths and shrooms eaten since the 1980’s. How dare these Japanese monsters give our children a means to be active and have fun at the same time. God gave us Carpal Tunnel and grease sweats for a reason; he wants us to use handheld controllers damn it.

  11. mr_mlk says:

    No, but it does have "Simon Says" sequences, and if that involves say lifting an item up, then you rase the wiimote. Standard hitting it just push forward, regardless of the item you have in your hands (like bully or Wii Boxing (but sluggish)).

    Add a marker to the start of your signature.

  12. mr_mlk says:

    Even if you have 1-1, without force feedback it is still too unreal to be useful.

    Add a marker to the start of your signature.

  13. Zevorick says:

    Yes, but the controls would, by neccessity, HAVE to be 1 to 1 in order to give the side of JT and the video game nutjobs credibility… then again JT and credibility always go so well together, so there you go.

  14. Andrew Eisen says:

    Even if the controls were 1-to-1, at the end of the day you’re still waiving a piece of plastic in the air.


    Andrew Eisen

  15. magic_taco says:

    Psychoticism is a semi-controversial term (some critics think that the concept is too broad and doesn’t take into account the complexity of the human mind and its many mental states), but it basically means that higher levels are equal to higher chances of developing an abnormal condition of the mind (psychosis).


    I’ve never heard of these kinds of words and mental conditions before,Yup, Im learning whats going on, But i thought Video games were used to rid people of stress and stuff, There couldnt be a way to link these to aggression or Psychopathy.

    We may not be out of the woods yet, but im glad im seeing some results about this and other future issues.


    Magic Taco= Taco God



  16. Arell says:

    Psychoticism is a semi-controversial term (some critics think that the concept is too broad and doesn’t take into account the complexity of the human mind and its many mental states), but it basically means that higher levels are equal to higher chances of developing an abnormal condition of the mind (psychosis).

    Or more simply, high levels means you’re prone to losing touch with reality.

    This does go hand in hand with what many of us have known for a long time about video games.  Violent games do not make normal people into murderers and rapists.  It’s jus that naturally violent criminals like violent games.  It’s a correlation, but not a cause and effect.  The excuse, "video games made me do it," doesn’t hold up.  They probably would have "done it" anyway.  The game maybe just gave them an extra push.

    The problem is, how can you possibly apply this information?  Obviously, none of us here are in favor of ban violent games for millions of players, just to prevent them from being played by a few bad apples in the crowd.  But the other extreme is to give every person in the world a psychological exam to determine who it prone to high levels of psychoticism, then prevent them from viewing violent material (which would be against our civil rights in most countries, and is nothing more than "profiling").  Granted, people with psychosis don’t necessarily have to end up being criminals, and it would be good to get them help before they do commit any heinous acts.  But that’s a subject not related to video games, so I’ll stop there.

  17. Kincyr says:

    Wow.  Heroin is no more addictive than cocaine.  How comforting.  Jack Thompson

    you would know first-hand, wouldn’t you?

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  18. GoodRobotUs says:

    Well, if you think that to be true, then it explains a great deal about your limited understanding of addiction.

  19. NovaBlack says:

    yeah.. and fishsticks taste better with crispy crumb rather then batter.


    What.. ? i thought we were just saying random things that have nothing to do with the story, as soon as they enter our heads.


    ohh right.. yeah that would be a stupid thing to do..


    hey DisbarrredGuy How about you try reading, and post something relavant.

  20. DavCube says:

    Um… Mr. Thompson, this article has nothing to do with addiction.

    Though perhaps you should read this little bit of the article. (Look what i’m doing; asking Thompson to READ something… next i’ll ask the clouds to rain ice cream)

    "Participants with elevated levels of psychoticism were much more affected by violent video games than other participants. Such findings suggest that only some individuals are adversely affected by violent video games and that those who are affected have preexisting dispositions which make themsusceptible to such violent media."

    Reality hurts, doesn’t it? You should know, having lost your job for being a selfish git.

    David Gagnon, Mature Human Being, and You’re Not.

  21. Arcanagos says:

    Is it just me or are this guy’s arguments getting more and more delusional by the day? Taking bets on how long until he gets tossed in the nuthouse at last

  22. Arell says:

    Oh, absolutely.  No arguement here.  But there’s still the problem of catching these conditions before the person commits a criminal act.  Or even, catching it before putting a game like Manhunt 2 in the hands of an undiagnosed schizophrenic.  And if you do get these people the help they need, many of them go off their medication.

    So yeah, a person with high psychoticism who is getting the appropriate treatment would be no different than the rest of us when it came to playing violent games.  But what about the ones that aren’t getting treatmemt?  It’s a complex issue.  You can’t restrict games on the possibility that a few people out of the millions don’t have the mental stability to handle them.  Yet those people still exist.

  23. Miang says:

    "People with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychopathy (lack of empathy), and such."


    @ Arell

    That’s true — as long as they aren’t properly medicated. A person with bipolar disorder who is on the right meds and has the condition under control can get exactly the same stress relief as everyone else. While its more difficult to acheive the right level of medication for schizophrenics without nasty side effects if you can do it those individuals also experience the same stress relief from gameplay. People with most mental illnesses (note: I said most, not all. There is no treatment for sociopathy and several related psychotic disorders) can experience the world exactly like their peers who don’t have mental conditions if they receive the right treatment.

  24. Arell says:

    You’re missing the point.  For a normal person, games do indeed act to relieve stress and otherwise entertain.  But we aren’t talking about normal people.  We’re talking about people with potential psychosis.  People with abmormal conditions that make them see the world differently, usually to detrimental effect.  People with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychopathy (lack of empathy), and such.  What the researchers are finding, is that these people with higher levels of psychoticism don’t get the same stress relief was the rest of us.  For them, the line between reality and fantasy isn’t as clear-cut.  So yes, these few rare individuals really are negatively effected by violent media.

    Like I said, violent games do not make people into murderers.  But murderers (and potential merderers) like to play violent games.  It’s not the cause, it’s just a correlation.

  25. gamegod25 says:

    @ headline

    Tune in next week to "**** I already know!"

    If you honestly thought that it did please go stick a fork in an outlet.

  26. Arell says:

    Additionally, improved visual tracking (gamers tend to react fasster to visual stimuli while driving), and multitasking.  There are also some negative effects, but the only one that comes to mind at the moment is shortened attention span (gamers may stare at a screen for hours, but they become accostumed to the information rapidly changing).

    Still, while it’s always good to hear good news, we shouldn’t shut out the bad just because we don’t like hearing it.  This study was a mixed bag.  We got good news (Wii controls shown NOT to increase violent tendancies), and bad news (people with psychosis probably are negatively impacted by games).

  27. Pinworm says:

     This study is just as ridiculous as the ones that were against us. Both are stupid, neither provide any valuable information beyond the point of allowing people to say "I’m right because X study says so!" ala jack thompson. And don’t think this will change anything as he and others will claim this study is bias and absurd despite the fact that the same can be said for their studies.

    Ridiculous and a disgrace to science.

  28. Flamespeak says:

    The study I really want to see is what the positive mental effects of someone playing a violent video game is.  I know there has to be some, but what are they?

  29. magic_taco says:

    You have to raise the Wii-control up in the air to stab or shoot a character…WOW, This is absurd.

    Sorry i’ve never played manhunt 2, I do wanna play the game, Honest, Im trying to get it for PS2.


    "El Magnifico Taco"

  30. Zevorick says:

    I haven’t played it yet, but I can imagine how ludicrous it is. Wii controls are crude at best. "wiggle the joystick to do this" "thrust it [ten feet forward] to do this". This is why they can’t make a decent boxing or flight simulator game just yet. The motion controls aren’t at the point of realism that they need them to be in order to make more physical games feel anything but clunky.

  31. Andrew Eisen says:

    All you have to do is actually play Manhunt 2.  Once you stab a game character in the face by wiggling the Wii remote in the air you’ll see how absurd the whole argument was in the first place.


    Andrew Eisen

  32. Zevorick says:

    Just out of curiosity… fwah?

    I’m not attacking the guy who was doing the study. I was attacking the retards who caused the neccessity of the study in the first place.

  33. JustChris says:

    I know the study preaches to the choir, but it really exists only to counter other studies that do claim a causal link between violent media and violent behavior.

    You can really blame this on the fear mongering watchdogs. If they hadn’t wasted money to "prove" video games are evil, we wouldn’t have rational people wasting money to say otherwise. It’s all a defensive act that shouldn’t have happened if not for some people trying to stir up controversy.

  34. Zevorick says:

    Wait… so psychos are more affected by violent video games than us normal folk? Blasphemy!!!!

    Wait… so playing an olympic video game on the wii DOESN’T turn me into a super athlete? I want my damn money back!

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