Does intended aggressive activity increase unintended aggressive activity within video games?
Hayes, Sherry Cooke
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There has been an on-going debate on the effect of video games on the aggressive behavior of players once they are no longer engaged in play within the virtual world. The claim asserts that the aggressive activity that is a fundamental part of game's design, teaches the same type of aggressive activity outside the video game. This study joins this debate with one guiding question: does intended aggressive activity increase unintended aggressive activity within the video game? Logic dictates that negative aggressive behavior should manifest itself first within the game, before being practiced in the real world. To answer this question, this study proposes a virtual game theory, which has its foundation in the symbolic interaction paradigm and is an offshoot of differential association theory and social learning theory. The general hypothesis to be tested is that playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, a goal-oriented aggressive activity, continuously for long hours has no significant effect on non-goal-oriented aggressive activities such as killing, annoying, and provoking. The data for this study come from the Internet survey conducted by Dr. Nick Yee from May to July, 2005 with 1879 online video game players. The main method of analysis is ordinary least squares regression because the dependent variable is a composite scale. The results show that playing a game raid for eight hours continuously has no significant effect on negative aggressive behavior within the video game, nor has playing the video game for 10 hours continuously after holding control variables constant. These findings are consistent with my hypothesis. In addition, this study finds that the player's age and gender have significant impacts on negative aggressive behavior within the video game. The findings suggest that negative aggressive activity may be related to innate qualities of the player, not the game. The virtual world does not have the ability to successfully complete the task of resocializing individuals that social institutions often fail to accomplish.