After Hours

Does your mind get bent behind the wheel of a video game?


Finally, someone has conducted a study that helps explain why I'm so risque. Wait a minute, I meant risky. Did you know that driving video games are linked with risky driving and getting in car accidents? At least that's what a group of German researchers concluded. Check out the news story: "Racing video games cause reckless driving: study." 

According to the researchers, "Driving actions in these games often include competitive and reckless driving, speeding, and crashing into other cars or pedestrians, or performing risky stunts with the vehicle. In short, most actions in racing games imply a very high risk of having an accident or severe crash in a highly realistic virtual road traffic environment."

I have to agree that my mind gets a little bent after playing racing games. Sure, I think about zooming in and out of traffic, taking out the little old lady who is walking her Shih Tzu (5 points for granny and 15 and the pooch), and having a total disregard for the rules of the road - but I don't act on those thoughts. Maybe someone who isn't as mature as I am would have a more difficult time keeping their impulse control in check, but I think a warning sticker on the game itself would suffice. Thoughts? 

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

7 comments
sarchbold
sarchbold

You have to consider the test, they had a bunch of people play a racing video game. then put them into a realistic car/traffic simulator (possibly.. another game!!) and the people in the study where much more reckless. Consider the fact that possibly in the mind of the people being studied they went from one type of game to another more realistic type of game. For example, in the simulator if you happen to bump into another car nothing really happens, no injuries, no chance your insurance can go up, no chance for the other person to sue you. As apposed to when you actually drive and all of the above things are possible. Now I do not discount that after playing on a racing game of sorts that you may have the slight urge to hit the gas and hit that now temporary ramp that the ?New Car? tractor trailer is providing in front of you, to do a super flip 360 rotation of sorts and of coarse then land right back on all four wheels with out any damage. But shortly after that thought goes through your head the one that says, IDIOTE your care is not going to survive that, much less you!! Change LANES! Comes rushing in behind.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I've spent over 600 hours playing a first person shooter in a "modern" combat scenario. I fly planes, drive vehicles, shoot enemies and blow up stuff, all in an online environment where all the opponents are human. I won't deny that some players get all worked up about it, specifically when someone breaks rules or is suspected of using a hack or cheat. But if you put me in the army, I would not fight the way I do in the game. I never forget its a game, I never forget that if I die, I can come back to life in 30 secs. I take far more chances in the game than I would in real life. In the game I might be alone and sneak up behind a squad of the enemy, hoping to kill two or more of them before I get killed. In real life, I would wait for some backup before taking them on. Likewise I drive like a maniac in the game, knowing that if I crash and burn, I will come back in 30 seconds. In real life I am a defensive driver. James

dmckay2003
dmckay2003

I play COD both local and online to relieve stress so I don't go POSTAL! As most of IT professionals are aware, our job is to keep multi-million dollar systems at uptimes around 99.8% 24/7/365. I for one am responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars a minute in lost revenue if the system crashes. By the end of a rough day, I need some sort of stress relief and COD gives me that. I also race online as often as time permits and haven't gotten a ticket in over 20 years. I believe there are SOME people who may take it to the extreme of living in the game but for most of us, it's just a way to blow off steam.

dcrandell
dcrandell

I would have to disagree with you on some of your info. First I believe that the Air Force has been using flight sims for many years it is not something that is brand new. I have played NFS for hours and hours, and my driving has not gotten any worse. There are times when you need to be a LITTLE aggressive on the road. (someone driving in a blind spot when you need in that lane to turn, so you speed up to get in) I don't want to count the times that someone has kept close when I have tried to pass or get ahead of them. On another note I have been playing FPS since I was 10 or so (now 20) and I have yet to point any firearm at anyone. (Other than paintball and airsoft that I have played with friends) I really don't see how a game will affect anyone's judgment, and I hate it when there is a news story that blames a game for the crime that someone has done. Is it the fault of the game that the person was unable to judge right from wrong? NO if the person is unable to distinguish between reality and virtual reality then they should not play games. I do agree with another post that it is great stress relief. I think that when I get home I will race some cars and blast some aliens.

PapaWhiskey
PapaWhiskey

First of all to Sonja, the author of the original post. You are a woman, and women are far more passive drivers than men. Therefore, you cannot relate to a man's thought process. Men are far more aggresive drivers, and whether you like it or not, playing games on a PC, or a console does have an effect on the behavior of the individual. If you don't believe me, why do you think the U.S. Army has spent several million dollars developing and improving the FREE online game called America's Army? They didn't do it just because they want people to think it's cool to be in the army, they did it because they needed to de-sensitize America's youth to the horrors of war, and it works. It's really no different than what Hitler did to raise up an army of ruthless killers leading up to WWII. Another example: The U.S. Air Force is now using Microsoft Flight Simulator to improve Air Force cadets in flight training. All the responses here basically say one thing: I know the difference between a game and real life. Do you? I'm willing to bet that if you played a racing game such as Need For Speed every night, you would become a more aggresive driver, who is more likely to cut someone off in traffic. Also consider this. The type of people who frequent this site are most likely educated, and respectful of the law. What about the vast majority of youth who are not educated, play games that glorify stealing cars, crashing into other cars, and shooting people? This type of activity blurs the line between obeying the law, and circumventing the law for personal gain. These games don't teach people to respect authority, they influence people to disrespect authority. I have played many FPS games, racing games, and simulators, so I know what goes on in these games. One last thing. How many of you have conducted a scientific study concerning the effects of games on the beahvior of the gamer? I thought so. So what gives you the credentials to disagree with the results of this study?

metalmonkey
metalmonkey

After playing Burnout Revenge I wish I could do "traffic attacks" in real life and after playing Tony Hawk all I see around me are those rails I could grind on, but to go from thinking about it to actually doing it you have to be already a little weak between the ears. I mean common...Who are the subjects of those studies?

dawgit
dawgit

This is not a bash against Gaming, but more and more research is showing that a whole lot of little brains are getting bent, (or already bent) by electronic games. I can tell you this also, it works in the war zones very well. (by both sides) Now if some one could find a way to reverse the process.... -d