Computer game players with more physical-aggressive personality manifest more violent behaviors in game playing with more violent interactions, more frequent punching and kicking actions, and more frequent shootings. This research is one of the first to show that personality is an important factor in how a game is played.
The most important contribution of this study is that it investigated the individual experience of game playing. Most of the existent studies, especially experimental studies, simply compare a group of people playing a violent game and another group playing a nonviolent game without taking into consideration that the violent content people are exposed to can vary to a great extent even when playing the same game. This study is the first that goes beyond contextual variables and actually considers the unique experience of each individual player.
How was it done?
Screen captures of 40 undergraduate students were studied. They independently played the game for 70 minutes, sitting separately from each other and wearing earphones. The video stream of the last 10 minute portion of their game playing was recorded using the software Snagit for content analysis.
Two popular computer games The Godfather (Game 1) and True Crime: Streets of LA(Game 2) were used. Both are third-person action games rated as Mature with violent physical force. Participants played either as a gangster in Game 1 or as a violent police officer in Game 2. Both games involved driving, shooting, fighting, and interactions with nonplayer characters (NPCs). In both games, players could use natural means (e.g., punch, kick) or weapons during violent interactions. Using two games rather than one was aimed to reduce the influence of a specific game. Eighteen of the 40 participants played Game 1, and 22 played Game 2.
Physical-aggressive personality was measured a week before participation using the physical aggression subscale in Buss and Perry’s Aggression Questionnaire.
Five dependent variables were used to measure the aggressiveness of participants’ game play: (a) frequency of PAT, (b) frequency of nonviolent interaction, (c) frequency of using natural means, (d) frequency of using firearm, and (e) percentage of two types of consequences: severe and mild. A PAT is an aggressive exchange that occurs between a perpetrator (P) engaging in a particular type of act (A) against a target (T).
The next step would be to examine whether aggressive game play actually mediate the effect of playing violent games. Will a violent game player later show more aggressive thoughts, affects and behaviors.
A small sample size with undergraduates makes generalizability limited, the participants were mainly male, only 6 women participated. Aggressive thoughts, affects or behaviors after game playing weren't measured. This would be of interest for the effect of violent game playing. Other factors such as playing against a human or a computer and playing on a 42 inch screen or a mobile phone screen can also influence game play.
Peng, W., Liu, M., Mou, Y. (2008). Do Aggressive People Play Violent Computer Games in a More Aggressive Way? Individual Difference and Idiosyncratic Game-Playing Experience. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(2), 157-161. DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2007.0026