Violent video games turning gamers into deadly shooters

Boom, headshot!”: Effect of video game play and controller type on firing aim and accuracy

From Communication Research

Playing violent shooting video games can improve firing accuracy and influence players to aim for the head when using a real gun this study finds. The researchers tested 151 college students by having them play different types of violent and non-violent video games, including games with human targets in which players are rewarded for hitting the targets’ heads. After playing the game for only 20 minutes, participants shot 16 bullets from a realistic gun at a life-size, human-shaped mannequin. Participants who played a violent shooting game using a pistol-shaped controller hit the mannequin 33% more than did other participants and hit the mannequins’ head 99% more often. The researcher’s findings remained significant even after controlling for firearm experience, attitudes about gun use, amount of exposure to violent shooting games, and overall level of aggressiveness of the player. The authors conclude “These results indicate the powerful potential of video games to teach or increase skills, including potentially lethal weapon use.”

Abstract

Video games are excellent training tools. Some writers have called violent video games “murder simulators.” Can violent games “train” a person to shoot a gun? There are theoretical reasons to believe they can. Participants (N = 151) played a violent shooting game with humanoid targets that rewarded headshots, a nonviolent shooting game with bull’s-eye targets, or a nonviolent nonshooting game. Those who played a shooting game used either a pistol-shaped or a standard controller. Next, participants shot a realistic gun at a mannequin. Participants who played a violent shooting game using a pistol-shaped controller had 99% more headshots and 33% more other shots than did other participants. These results remained significant even after controlling for firearm experience, gun attitudes, habitual exposure to violent shooting games, and trait aggressiveness. Habitual exposure to violent shooting games also predicted shooting accuracy. Thus, playing violent shooting video games can improve firing accuracy and can influence players to aim for the head.

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Article details
Whitaker, J., & Bushman, B. (2012). “Boom, Headshot!”: Effect of Video Game Play and Controller Type on Firing Aim and Accuracy Communication Research DOI: 10.1177/0093650212446622

     
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