The most recent issue of Developmental Psychology reports on a study that suggests a possible cause and effect relationship between aggressive behavior in boys and the degree to which boys identify with violent characters in video games. However, as Brandon Erickson notes in an essay at GameCritics.com:
I found a couple much more fascinating results buried in the article's discussion section. These are:
- There was no significant correlation between the perceived realism of the game and the player's feeling of immersion.
- Realism and immersion did not influence the players' aggression levels.
Both of these results seem to fly in the face of the conventional wisdom about videogames. The first statement confirms something that I have actually been trying to articulate for a long time, but have often felt unequipped to do so. The second statement also goes against the idea that the (supposed) negative effects of videogames are heightened by increased realism. These conclusions are worth pondering, and I'm surprised that the authors didn't highlight them more in the article.
The complete text of Erickson's essay can be found here.