Australia News

Why ultra-violent ideo games push so many Australians’ buttons

News Today || Headlines Today

No longer just for kids, video games can be found in nearly every home, handbag and pocket on the planet. And the genre seemingly more popular than any other is all about the same thing: violence.

Why that is, has long been somewhat of a mystery but Australian researchers believe the answers lie somewhere in the fields of biology and psychology.

The most controversial series in gaming history, due to its connections to real life crimes, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) has sold 165 million copies of its latest instalment worldwide since 2013.

Ads

It’s also been at or near the top of Australian gaming charts for the past six months.

GTA’s brain-splitting popularity is mirrored by the world’s best-selling shooter game franchise, Call of Duty, and its current offering, Warzone, has more than 100 million players. Another, Red Dead Redemption, was Australia’s best selling game of 2018.

Survival saga Fortnite, meanwhile, generated over $US9 billion for maker Epic Games in just two years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2018-19.

All are known for their graphic content yet research exploring the extraordinary fascination they hold is rare.

Hard-wired needs

Enter Associate Professor Michael Kasumovic, and a dash of evolutionary psychology and cognitive evaluation theory.

RELATED:  'Protect the vulnerable': Stark warning as latest COVID wave takes hold

Research conducted by the professor and his University of NSW colleagues suggests violent games resonate because they offer opportunities to fulfil psychological needs.

“The motivations we have to play (them) stem from our desire to become better as individuals,” he says.

“They allow us to measure status, assess our abilities relative to others and overcome our fears.”

While unusual to think so, Prof Kasumovic says video games tap into human desires. Autonomy, social connection and competency are all motivators for behaviour.

“Whether it’s choosing a weapon upgrade, working together with other characters or accomplishing goals or missions … violent video games lend themselves to our psychological needs because they’re designed in a way that allows us to achieve a sense of control and accomplishment,” he says.

“And they help us figure out where we sit in a social hierarchy.”

According to the research, violent games also allow players to experience dangerous situations in a safe environment, as well as regulate emotions.

“(They) help explore our fears around death and can help with the expression of emotions, particularly anger,” Prof Kasumovic says.

“Before, people might have gone outside to play with others. Now, we have the means to do this through digital interactions.”

Anyone can play

Unlike traditional sports, video games can be mastered regardless of physical capacity.

RELATED:  Global childhood vaccinations drop to 30 year low with Australian teens among those who missed out

Bond University’s latest Digital Australia report shows 17 million Australians play video games in some form. The so-called average player is aged 35, more likely a bloke and logs on for 83 minutes a day.

And the love affair continues to blossom. While 76 per cent of Australian households had at least one gaming device in 2005, by 2021 92 per cent did.

Some people, however, are more likely to play than others.

The UNSW study found those who perceive themselves as lower in social status or have unmet desires to exercise influence or control over others are more likely to.

The less these needs are met in the real world, the more likely they are to seek them out in a digital one.

“Video games may allow some people to get what they’re not getting in the real world – like enhanced feelings of self-esteem and social ranking,” Prof Kasumovic says.

“So, people from low-status groups can be more drawn to playing violent video games because of a desire to obtain higher status that they can perhaps achieve in the game.”

Violent video games, particularly online multiplayer ones, are designed to encourage improved performance through match-making tiers and levelling up.

At the extremes, this is thought to encourage addiction.

RELATED:  Chrissy Teigen reveals how she realised truth of her 'miscarriage'

According to the UNSW research, players get instant feedback on performance and there’s a positive loop that drives them to play more because they want to improve in the game and in their standing against others.

-AAP

Latest & Breaking Australia News Today Headlines: More Updates

Today News || News Now || World News || US News || UK Today || Tech News || Education News

Source

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close