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Study: Playing violent video games in 3-D can lead to higher levels of anger

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Virtual realities lead to realistic ramifications, according to a recent study conducted by Ohio State researchers.

Playing violent video games in 3-D caused individuals to seem more angry, according to “Immersed in violence: Presence mediates the effect of 3D violent video gameplay on angry feelings,” a study co-authored by Brad Bushman and Robert Lull.

“Violent video games increase angry feelings and aggressive impulses when played on an ordinary desktop computer,” Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at OSU, said in an email. “Our research shows that the effects are much larger when the same game is played on a large screen in 3-D.”

To arrive at this conclusion, Bushman and Lull — the study’s lead author and a graduate student at OSU — assigned 194 participating college students to six different conditions, Lull said.

All participants played “Grand Theft Auto IV,” though their conditions differed. Half of the participants were instructed to play the game violently for 15 minutes, killing as many people as they could, while the other half was instructed to play the game non-violently — by going bowling — for the same amount of time, Lull said.

The participants were also divided into three equal groups that played the game on either a 17-inch 2-D screen, a 96-inch 2-D screen or a 96-inch 3-D screen, Lull said.

Following their time with the video game, participants were exposed to a pool of 34 adjectives, 30 of which denoted angry characteristics, and were instructed to indicate which adjectives defined their mood, Lull said.

Bushman and Lull concluded that participants who played the video game violently showed more evidence of anger than those who played that same game non-violently. Additionally, they found the gaming setting impacted anger, Lull said.

“(Participants) who played in 3-D were even angrier than those who played in either of the 2-D conditions,” Lull said.

The difference in the participants’ responses was “statistically significant,” he added.

Ian Bailey, a fifth-year in atmospheric science pursing a second degree in journalism, was placed in the 2-D condition of the experiment and was interested with the magnitude of the study’s findings.

“It surprised me a little bit, only in the sense of how dramatic the (3-D) effect was,” Bailey said. “I feel like a lot of it has to do with individual personality types.”

The findings were also a result of the game’s content, Lull said. He said OSU plans to conduct a similar study with the game wherein participants are instructed to play in a helpful manner and measured for their pro-social behavior.

The different perspective may serve as a welcome change for those tired of learning of the relationship between video games and aggression, Lull said.

“I think to some degree it’s overblown,” Nikit Malkan, a third-year in computer science and engineering, said of video game-aggression studies. “You often find so many studies that contradict each other.”

With many video game-related studies, there have been reccurring themes. Specifically, there has been a growing relationship between technological advancements and video games’ effects on players. Lull said.

“A lot of the developments are specifically designed to be more immersive,” Lull said. “In that regard it is a little concerning.”

Lull said as video games advance, people seem to get more attached to them, thus heightening their effects.

One comment

  1. No wonder… if I was put in a room and forced to play Grand Theft Auto 4 I’d show signs of anger too.

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