Behavioural realism and the activation of aggressive concepts in violent video games

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Entertainment Computing, ISSN: 1875-9521, Vol: 24, Page: 21-29

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David Zendle; Daniel Kudenko; Paul Cairns
Elsevier BV
Computer Science
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A common argument in the violent video game (VVG) literature is that the greater the realism of a game, the more it activates aggressive concepts, and the greater antisocial effects it will have on its players. Several experiments have therefore looked into whether the graphical realism of VVGs might influence their effects. These experiments have returned mixed results. However, there are other ways that a VVG can be realistic besides looking like the real world. More specifically, things in VVGs can not only look realistic, they can also behave realistically. It may be the case that this kind of realism leads to increases in the activation of aggressive concepts, rather than increases in graphical realism. In this paper, we therefore present two large-scale online experiments (n = 898 and n = 1880) which investigate the effects of two different manipulations of behavioural realism on the activation of aggressive concepts in VVGs. In neither experiment did increasing realism increase the activation of aggressive concepts. Realism is often described as increasing the effects of VVGs. These results contradict this perspective, and instead suggest that realism may not lead to increases in aggression-related variables.