John Velez, an assistant professor at the College of Media & Communication, has published the results of a study focusing on how cooperating with others in both violent and non-violent video games influences social behavior in real life.
I wouldn’t call the results surprising, but they are worth sharing here on our blog. After all, we live and breathe collaboration.
A friend in need is a friend indeed
I’ve always loved this saying. I consider it one of the most accurate proverbs I’ve come across in my lifetime. It applies in gaming too. Quite beautifully actually. As a gamer, surely you’ve faced the tough decision of leaving loot or supplies behind just to help out a partner who’s low on health. According to Velez, this triggers our empathy sensors and makes us better people, not just in the game, but in real life as well.
The test went like this. Gamers were given the chance to be mean to their partner by means of blasting their eardrums with a loud and annoying noise. What they found was that, regardless of the game type (i.e. violent or not), when cooperative play was involved the gamers felt less need for revenge. This, compared to those who played alone, who were found to be more aggressive when things didn’t turn out as planned in the game.
Make love, not war
According to Velez, “cooperative play seems to have the biggest effect in terms of decreasing aggression toward other people.” The study also found that “playing with a helpful partner increases the expectation of others to reciprocate that pro-social behavior and generally be helpful,” he said. In other words, collaboration is contagious.
This behavioral improvement was observed not only in individual gamers, but also in teams of players. The same research found that gamers are nicer to their opponents when co-op play is involved. Velez concluded that people who play co-op games seem to value relationships more than those who play alone (no surprise there!), and that they focus less on the aggression in the game (in the case of a violent title like Halo) and more on social aspects.
Amen to that!