Does the amount of violent content within a game help predict how likely the player is going to participate in pro-social behaviour, or are there other factors that play a bigger role? The findings of Vanessa Hemovich’s study concluded that the violent content versus non-violent was in fact not a factor in how helpful the player was after the experiment had concluded. Instead, repeated losses were the leading factor for lessened pro-social behaviour regardless of the amount of violent content in the game. These conclusions were drawn from an experiment with a sample size of 41 volunteers averaging 18-21 years old, of whom around four-fifths were male with three to four hours as the average gaming time per week for 36.6% of the participants, with nine to ten hours as the follow-up at 14.6%. Regarding the sample size and background variance, Hemovich does note that increased sample size, gender diversity and gaming backgrounds would benefit future endeavours in the matter of studying these connections.
Vanessa Hemovich’s study took the aspects of winning and losing as the aspects to consider for player behaviour alongside violent video games (VVGs) and non-VVGs. This was because while studies have picked up other aspects than the level of violence to consider regarding pro-social behaviour it has not been often that the study was conducted utilising both VVGs and non-VVGs in the same research.
The study itself was conducted with the usage of both a VVG, Wolfenstein: The New Order and a non-VVG, Bit.Trip Runner, both of which were further split into sessions where the screen was completely unobstructed and a session where the middle of the screen was largely obstructed to increase the player failure rates. The participants were randomly assigned to one of these sessions and were given ten minutes to play and complete in-game tasks, all the while an assistant was there to act both as technical support if need be and to record player performance, in particular the number of deaths and in-game task succession rate.
After the game session, participants were given surveys, just before which the experimenter would spill over a cup of pens, wait for a moment to give time for the participant to start picking the pencils up and then count the number of pens the participant picked up. With the splits of game vision obstruction, player deaths and the violent/non-violent nature of the game in mind, it was through this act of social player behaviour that determined how much these variables changed the player’s behaviour. According to Hemovich, self-reports as a method present a common problem when it comes to studying VVGs and as such, the method used in this study was able to get past that.
To conclude, Hemovich says that further research into situational factors, including winning and losing, is the way for us to help understand and perceive how they tie into changing player behaviour.
Header taken from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/fi/photos/strategia-voittaa-hallita-mestaruus-1080536/, by jarmoluk (https://pixabay.com/fi/users/jarmoluk-143740/)
Main article: Hemovich, V. (2021). It Does Matter If You Win or Lose, and How You Play the (Video) Game. Games and Culture, 16(4), 481–493. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412020913760
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