So I got this article a few weeks back and since it’s in press I planned to write a post somewhere in December. I was planning on posting it when it’s published and when someone in the news media like gamepolitics.com picks it up too. I planned to make this post as sort of complementary source for those who like details or wants more info.
The current study examined the potential moderating effects of motion capture technology and participants’ own level of psychoticism on their hostility and aggressive thoughts after playing violent video games. A total of 118 participants (68 females, 50 males) first completed a measure of psychoticism and then played either a violent video game or a non-violent video game using either a traditional controller or motion capture controls. Immediately after the video game play period, participants’ current level of hostility and aggressive cognitions were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Results indicated that the use of motion capture controls did not increase the negative effects of violent video games. However, 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 them susceptible to such violent media.
Anyways, gamepolitics.com picked it up and I was caught unguarded. Judging from the post, it seems that gamepolitcs go ahold of the article first since there were no link to other news website. There’s a peculiar pattern that I’m seeing in regards to video game publication and media reporting: the likelihood for academic publication and media exposure on VG research increases as time approaches Christmas. The dead season would be summer.
Markey and Scherer directly addressed the concerns from high-profile individuals, such as Jack Thompson, Dr. Michael Rich and others (See this link from the Boston Globe and a post from gamepolitics.com). Well it’s nice to address this concern, but the problem remains if these guys will acknowledge the study or perhaps accept the results which they will find other justifications or spot methodological flaws in order to preserve their opinion. Anyways, I’ll make this short and quick.
Participants: 118 undergraduate students (average age 19 years). Near equal gender ratio.
Psychoticism: Markey has an interest in personality psychology, so it would seem natural to see how personality factors interact with video games. They are using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, a 27 item answered in yes or no style. (not sure about that because it says dichotomous)
State hostility: measures your current state or mood on a hostility scale, so are you feeling mean right now? there are 35 items on a 5-point scale.
Aggressive cognitions: the word completion task, 49 incomplete words to fill in the blanks. For example, _unch. Depending on how you fill in the blanks, it could be punch or lunch. Aggressive vs. non-aggressive. Simple and subtle.
Video games used: Non-violent game: Tiger Woods Golf 2008 (their words, not mine). Violent game: Manhunt 2, obviously the target of fear and concern from those I mentioned earlier. Both games have the Wii and Playstation 2 versions.
Simplified to the extreme: one participant at a time, do questionnaire, play one of the games either on the Wii or the PS2 for 20 minutes. After that, complete all the aggression questionnaire and then goodbye.
Analysis done by hierarchical regression analyses. See abstract for results. Violent video games is associated with increased aggression and state hostility. No statistically significant effect found for controller type as a moderator between violent video games and aggression. Psychoticism is associated as a moderator variable. so higher psychoticism, higher aggression scores.
The worries from those worrywarts is that the wiimote’s potential role as a killer-training instrument is overblown. My only concern is that the wiimote’s interaction effect with violent video games is missing several components in order to vindicate those worrywarts. A holodeck-sized visual environment, full and realistic motion capture movement (i.e. your character moves in real distance and speed as yours), full visual intergration (i.e First person view), realistic sound system and not from your TVs speakers, force feedback on the wiimote (i.e. hammer should heavier than the wiimote), and maybe smell-o-vision. All of these missing components and the wiimote relate to a concept in virtual reality research called presence or telepresence. I sent an e-mail to Dr. Markey if he considered whether presence might be a key moderator. However, If I remember correctly the literature, presence isn’t conclusively found to be a moderator between the effects of violent video games and aggression. There was one study that found a relationship (Persky & Blascovich, 2007).
Right now, playing your wiimote in your room, stumbling on furniture, looking at a regular size televison screen and maybe the picture of your favourite dog might distract you from the feared full experience of murder or it just might distract you from good fun. Besides the Manhunt series, there are plenty other good nonviolent games out there that people play.
Markey, P. M., & Scherer, K. (2009). An examination of psychoticism and motion capture controls as moderators of the effects of violent video games. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 407-411.