Violent video games have been a heavily debated topic among psychologists and those in the media for years but according to a new study, it’s not the content of games that is causing issues but rather the gameplay mechanics.
The study, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Rochester, found that incompetence was a major cause of aggressive behavior after playing a game.
One of the six studies carried out by researchers had gamers play a modified version of Valve’s Half-Life 2 in which enemies would simply disappear when “marked” instead of having a player kill them. When compared to those playing the original game, they found no significant difference in aggression after playing.
What they did notice, however, was that players who went through a tutorial before diving into the action were less likely to show aggressive behavior than those that were thrown in without any guidance with regard to controls.
As Dr. Andrew Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute points out, players have a psychological need to come out on top when playing. If a player feels thwarted by the controls or the design of the game, they can wind up feeling aggressive. He noted that the need to master the game was far more significant than whether the title contained violent material.
So the next time you’re playing Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty and someone in the chat is livid, it likely has more to do with the fact that they suck at the game than the violence involved.