Research Problem/Question: The researchers had based their research on the argument that violent especially shooting video games have become most important leisure activity among youth. With the increasing praise for such games in media and public, these games have stimulated aggressive behavior and feelings of inattention towards friends and family as the users have perceived these animated characters as social beings and they are not actively involved in social activities. Apart from enjoyment and stimulation of aggressive behavior, youths feel no wrong in killing; rather they enjoy playing these games. However, very little research has been done to assess the enjoyment aspect as well as the distaste/distress and disengagement feelings that these violent games produce (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010).
The researchers had decided to initiate their research on the assumption that if the players had considered shooting was justified rather than distressful activity then it is enjoyable. This research seeks to study certain psychological processes of distress or disengagement caused by violent video games. The current research was twofold; two 2x2 experiments seek to investigate the fact that the disengagement signals by violent games will reduce all negative effects and guiltiness as these could undermine the thrill and enjoyment of the game (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010).
Significance of the Research: This research was significant in the manner as previously very little research was carried out in this field and with the help of this 2x2 experimental research, a practical analysis of moral detachment caused by violent games and subsequent feelings of delight and guilt could be presented.
Research Methodology: This research followed an experimental design which was conducted in a university laboratory in US. The sample size consisted of 84 undergraduate students who had enrolled in media entertainment classes (51 out of 84 students were females). The ages of these students ranged from 17 to 25 years. These students had played video games for 50 minutes on average during weekdays and for 1 hour and 50 minutes during weekends. Around 30% of the participants had liked role playing games. The same students were tested in both experiments (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010). An edited version of a first person shooting game with a new story line was used in these experiments. First the students had signed the consent form, they sat on a computer, played game 1(experiment 1), the lab assistant noted down the number of killings per participant and they were given a questionnaire that examined their level of enjoyment, negative feelings and guiltiness. Then these students continued to play the second game (experiment 2), the assistant would debrief them and the experiment ended. To assess the level of enjoyment, the Differential Emotions Scale was used. To examine any negative effects, Positive and Negative Affect Scale-PANAS was used and to study enjoyment level, five-item scale developed by Tauer and Harackiewicz was utilized (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010). All the three factors were the dependent variable.
Results: A MANOVA test was conducted for the first 2 (condemnable misbehavior vs. insignificant misbehavior) by 2 (human vs. non-human enemy). The result of this test showed that there was negligible but important impact of enemy’s misbehavior on negative effects (F(1, 83) = 4.18; p < .05; η2 part= 0.05). So the first experiment concluded that if the player knows the game there would be less guilt and negative effects, and excitement would increase. Similarly the opponent’s appearance as non-human in the game and culpability was not a significant factor. Another MANOVA test was used for the second 2x2 experiment but with addition of misconduct factor. The results showed a negligible but important impact of enemy’s misconduct on negative feelings (F (1, 83) = 4.18; p < .05; η2 part= 0.05). It was found that if the game was perceived as just a game, it lessened the guiltiness and negative effects. Together these experiments suggested that detachment/disengagement could reduce or encourage pleasure (Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010).
Hartmann, T., & Vorderer, P. (2010). It’s Okay to Shoot a Character: Moral Disengagement in Violent Video Games. Journal of Communication, 60, 94-119. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01459.x/pdf