PLAYING football video games makes people more aggressive than playing violent video games.
That’s the result of research carried out at the University of Huddersfield in a bid to find out if virtual life mirrors real life.
The findings of Dr Simon Goodson and colleagues from the university were presented yesterday at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Glasgow.
The study examined whether events that cause emotional responses in reality also produce similar responses when played in video games. This is called the ‘real life stressor’ hypothesis.
A football game was chosen as it is well known for causing strong emotions and sometimes violence in fans.
The research involved 40 people – both men and women – were randomly allocated to play either an Xbox360 violent video game or a football game. Baseline measurements were taken of heart rate, respiration and brain activity before, during and after the games.
When the results of measurements were cross referenced, the analysis showed that killing someone caused little brain activity, but conceding a goal or a foul caused high levels of activity.
Dr Goodson said: “There is much concern over the effects of violent video games and how these contribute to general aggression.
“However, this research indicates that ‘killing’ someone is not as ‘real’ as playing a sport and the brain recognises this and doesn’t react in the same way.
“As participants reacted with more agitation during the football game, it seems that the effects of violent video games have been misrepresented in the past.”
Two years ago academic research from the university revealed that driving games get players more angry than war games.
This came out amid all the furore surrounding the release of the controversial Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game.
Dr Goodson studied 70 people as they played driving game Project Gotham Racing and compared their reactions to playing the violent Gears of War 2. He said: “You get a more aggressive response from playing a racing game than from a violent game.”