Remember the piece I made a couple of days ago? Let me remind you; here. Now another new research suggests that violent video games may not make players more aggressive – if they play cooperatively with other people.
In two studies, researchers found that college students who teamed up to play violent video games later showed more cooperative behavior, and sometimes less signs of aggression, than students who played the games competitively.
One study was recently published online in the journal Communication Research. The second related study was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
The CBSN study involved 119 college students who were placed into four groups to play Halo II with a partner. The groups differed in whether they competed or cooperated in playing the game. Direct competition, indirect competition, cooperative condition and the regular player group.
The results showed that participants who played the video game cooperatively were more likely than those who competed to show cooperative tendencies in this later real-life game.
The second study, published in Communication Research, extended the findings by showing that cooperating in playing a violent video game can even unite people from rival groups – in this case, fans of Ohio State and those of their bitter rival, the University of Michigan.
This study involved 80 Ohio State students who, when they came to the lab for the experiment, were paired with a person who they thought was another student participant. In fact, it was one of the experimenters who was wearing an Ohio State t-shirt – or one from the rival University of Michigan.
The student and confederate then played Unreal Tournament III together – either as teammates or as rivals. After playing the video game, the participants played the same real-life game used in the previous study with their supposed partner, who was really one of the researchers. They also completed tasks that measured how aggressive they felt, and their aggressive tendencies. The results showed the power of cooperatively playing violent video games in reducing aggressive thoughts – and even overcoming group differences. As in the first study, players who cooperated in playing the video game later showed more cooperation than did those who competed against each other. It even worked when Ohio State participants thought they were playing with a rival from the University of Michigan.
The results suggest that it is too simplistic to say violent video games are always bad for players, said David Ewoldsen, co-author of the studies and professor of communication at Ohio State University.
“Clearly, research has established there are links between playing violent video games and aggression, but that’s an incomplete picture,” Ewoldsen said.
“Most of the studies finding links between violent games and aggression were done with people playing alone. The social aspect of today’s video games can change things quite a bit.”
The new research suggests playing a violent game with a teammate changes how people react to the violence.
“You’re still being very aggressive, you’re still killing people in the game – but when you cooperate, that overrides any of the negative effects of the extreme aggression,” said co-author John Velez, a graduate student in communication at Ohio State.