Violent video games offer stress release, but at a cost

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Violent video games offer stress release, but at a cost

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Violent video games offer stress release, but at a cost
By Brooks Hays
July 9, 2015 at 2:20 PM

Video game play, researchers discovered, offered some level of mood improvement for stressed study participants.

MADISON, Wis., July 9 (UPI) -- A new study finds that violent video games offer momentary stress relief, but the respite comes at an emotional price. According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, video games may also encourage aggression.

As part of the study, 82 undergraduate communications students at Wisconsin were recruited to play violent video games. Most of the participants had little to no experience with violent games.

First, half the participants played a video game named "Maximum Frustration," which was designed to elicit its title. Next, all of the participants were randomly assigned to play either a non-violent (LittleBigPlanet 2) or violent (Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage) PlayStation 3 game. Following 18 minutes of play, the participants filled out a survey about their emotions and attitude toward the game.

Frustrated players were more likely to be motivated to perform well and continue to advanced levels when playing both Play Station 3 games. And both video games offered some level of mood improvement, bolstering feelings of competency and adding to their overall enjoyment of the game.

However, players of the violent video game were more likely to perceive the outside world as hostile, and to reveal more aggressive tendencies.

"Our results suggest that it is important to investigate players who derive real-world pleasure from violent content or who turn to violent content regularly to manage negative emotions," researcher wrote in the conclusion of their study, published in the journal Computer in Human Behavior.

"Because such motivations might more accurately reflect the gameplay experience of many players in the real world, such 'risk factors' need to be considered."

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