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Master thesis: Abstract

Today video games are very current topic in media and society. Revenues increase constantly and they sometimes even rival those of the film industry (like in the case of e.g. the first-person shooter game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3). Also, Nintendo’s innovative Wii platform managed to attract a very broad (and fresh) clientele, and was able to charm consumers with the innovative and simple mechanics of this console, as well as the playful nature of its games, which suited a wider range of audience.

However, society and media often blame video games (and especially the violent ones) to be the reason why youth are perceived to become more and more violent. Moreover, video games (and especially shooter games) are often considered one of the motives (if not the main one) behind school shootings.

A lot of studies do indeed prove that there is a link between aggression1 and (violent) video game play, even though many researchers seem to forget that – e.g. in the U.S.- youth violence is actually decreasing, while more and more of them play video games, which would therefore dismiss a direct link between (violent) video game play and real-life violence. However, content analyses of video games have shown that violence plays an important role in most video games, even those that can be freely accessed by children and teens. The players themselves, though, have only marginally been involved in video game studies, as well as the reasons why they play video games (particularly the violent ones).

These can be considered as two of the major flaws of video game studies, even though the consistency of the results of past findings of researches about (violent) video games which involved college students seem to be confirmed. However, it is the frequent video game players that are exposed the most to this medium, and therefore they are often considered to be “at risk” by society and the media. Also, it is intrinsically important to investigate why they feel attracted to this very kind of medium, how they cope with moral concerns, why they –if enabled- performed violent actions besides killing the opponents (like e.g. crippling), and whether they appreciate features like e.g. the explicit depiction of violence. and (violent) video game play, even though many researchers seem to forget that – e.g. in the U.S.- youth violence is actually decreasing, while more and more of them play video games, which would therefore dismiss a direct link between (violent) video game play and real-life violence. However, content analyses of video games have shown that violence plays an important role in most video games, even those that can be freely accessed by children and teens. The players themselves, though, have only marginally been involved in video game studies, as well as the reasons why they play video games (particularly the violent ones).

This is the basic context of the current research, which had the following goals. By means of an online survey, the researcher intended to find out:

  • what players liked about violent video games;
  • whether they liked the explicit depiction of violence and why;
  • whether and why they had intentionally crippled an enemy;
  • whether they had ever felt guilty after harming or killing a target, and how they had coped with moral issues.

The findings suggest that games which feature the abovementioned functionalities (i.e. the explicit depiction of violence and the crippling feature) are perceived as being more realistic. In addition, crippling is considered a strategic option especially for those who play most.
Violent video game players, and especially those who spend a lot time playing this kind of games, have no trouble when coping with guilt, even if the target was part of a category that is generally considered weak and less threatening (i.e. children, elderly persons or women).
Regarding sex differences, female players did not only seem less keen to like the explicit depiction of violence or the crippling option, they were also less apt at coping with guilt if the target was a child. Female players were also few in numbers, which proves once again that violent video games are more appealing to and are mostly played by a male audience.
The findings lend support to past video game researches, e.g. about moral disengagement, the gratifications of violent video games and that frequent players tend to play in a more strategic way.
Future researches, however, could be useful and should include a more homogeneous sample, since this was one of the limitations of the current study which was biased by male respondents and by respondents in their twenties.

1 As Olson (2004) points out, even though the terms “aggression” and “violence” are not synonyms, they are often used interchangeably.

Master thesis title: “Gears of gore – The role and importance of explicit graphical violence in action, action RPG and first-person shooter videogames as perceived by regular, casual and non-gamers“.

Master in Communication, Major in Technologies for Human Communication.

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Welcome to ThePreRep

This is not a real blog, as it deals with the “serious” text I wrote.

The name might appear weird at first…it may sound similar to The Pre Repository, though and this is going to be its purpose: being a collection of the texts I wrote during my studies (not only at University).

“The” stands for theses, while “Pre” stands for presentations. Last but not least, “Rep” stands for reports but could also stand for repository.

I won’t post here on a regular basis, as I’m no researcher (currently, but who may tell in the future?).

This blog is intended for those who want to read the theses or text University, see what kinds of presentations I can do and what kind of reports I am able to write.

That said, enjoy your virtual stay, anyway……!  🙂