Many video games involve a central plot that involves making moral judgments.
A new study looks at whether an individual takes on the character of the video figure, or if the performance of immoral actions, such as violence, make the game more enjoyable.
In the study, Andrew Weaver, Ph.D., and graduate student Nicky Lewis, of Indiana University, Bloomington, studied how players make moral choices in video games and what effects those choices have on their emotional responses to the games.
They wanted to know if players of online video games perceive the content and characters as real and thus make moral judgments to avoid feeling guilty. The study is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
The researchers learned that players generally tended to make “moral” decisions and to treat game characters as though they were actual people. However, although behaving in antisocial ways was associated with greater guilt, it did not affect player enjoyment.
“Although preliminary, these results point to the utility of games as teaching and educational tools, as well as important tools for the assessment of behavior,” said Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., M.B.A., the journal’s editor-in-chief.
“These findings indicate how real the virtual world can become when one suspends disbelief and immerses oneself in the scenario.”