While video games are often slammed over violent content, a new study suggests that it is the challenge presented by a game rather than graphic violence which attracts players.
The research, which appears today in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, was conducted at the University of Rochester in cooperation with Immersyve Inc., described as a "player-experience research firm."
A press release quotes University of Rochester grad student Andrew Przybylski, the study’s lead author:
For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was not a plus. Violent content was only preferred by a small subgroup of people that generally report being more aggressive.
Immersyve president Scott Rigby commented on potential ramifications for the video game industry:
Much of the debate about game violence has pitted the assumed commercial value of violence against social concern about the harm it may cause. Our study shows that the violence may not be the real value component, freeing developers to design away from violence while at the same time broadening their market.
Researchers incorporated the popular Half-Life 2 and House of the Dead III into their study, using both high and low gore scenarios.
Iowa State University Professor Craig Anderson, a frequent critic of video game violence, praised the new research in an interview with the Canadian Press:
A common belief held by many gamers and many in the video game industry – that violence is what makes a game fun – is strongly contradicted by these studies.
Furthermore, the research convincingly shows that there is no relation between amount of violence in a game and the enjoyment experienced by the players, once opportunities for satisfying competence needs and autonomy needs have been equated in violent and non-violent games.