A new study that monitored the aggression-prompting effects of video game competition in male gamers found that whether players are going up against teammates or unfamiliar opponents has a measurable effect on testosterone levels, which contribute to aggression.
As reported by New Scientist
, the study split 42 college students into three-man teams, familiarized them with one another over a week of practice sessions, then organized matches between them in Unreal Tournament 2004
's deathmatch and capture the flag gametypes.
Even though the players had not met before the study, the research team led by University of Missouri in Columbia evolutionary psychologist David Geary found that gamers who won matches generated more testosterone when beating those of opposing teams than they did when playing deathmatches against their own team members.
In those intra-team matches, the losing players generated more testosterone than the winning players did -- the opposite result to when teams played against separate teams.
Geary said the results spoke to broader human instinct. "In a serious out-group competition you can kill all your rivals and you're better for it," he explained.
Adding credence to the findings, New Scientist points out that the comparative aggression levels correlate to findings in a study of Dominican competitive domino players -- which also suggests video games are not being singled out.