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Study: Violence Doesn't Motivate Gamers

Violence doesn't add enjoyment to video games, a new University of Rochester study says -- players obtain satisfaction from mastering challenges, and even more aggressive players do not derive additional enjoyment when violence and gore is present.
Violence doesn't add enjoyment to video games, a new study says -- players obtain satisfaction from mastering challenges. A new study from the University of Rochester and "player-experience research firm" Immersyve found that on the contrary, many players feel gore takes some of the fun out of gameplay and reduces their engagement and their desire to purchase a title. "For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was not a plus," says study author Andrew Przybylski. "Violent content was only preferred by a small subgroup of people that generally report being more aggressive." But not even the "more aggressive" players reported that gruesome imagery in a game actually increased their pleasure with it, Przybylski adds. The researchers say the primary motivator for enjoyment of gameplay is "the feelings of challenge and autonomy [players] experience while playing." "Both seasoned video gamers and novices preferred games where they could conquer obstacles, feel effective, and have lots of choices about their strategies and actions," says the study. Richard Ryan, motivational psychologist and study co-author, adds: "Conflict and war are a common and powerful context for providing these experiences, but it is the need satisfaction in the gameplay that matters more than the violent content itself." "Much of the debate about game violence has pitted the assumed commercial value of violence against social concern about the harm it may cause," says Immersyve president Scott Rigby. "Our study shows that the violence may not be the real value component, freeing developers to design away from violence while at the same time broadening their market." The study comprised two online surveys and two studies assessing 2,670 "frequent" video game players, and focused on player satisfaction, immersion, and enjoyment based on an Immersyve-developed psychometric model called the Player Experience of Need Satisfaction (PENS). Respondents were 89 percent male and between 18 and 39 years old.

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