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.