Games like “Grand Theft Auto,” “Call of Duty,” “Fortnite” and “PUBG” have many fans. But why are these violent games so popular? A study has found plausible answers.
Violent games are some of the most popular game genres in the video games section. Their popularity is soaring day by day, and this may have to do with their ability to “offer opportunities to fulfill psychological needs and motivations for obtaining status, feeling dominant and feeling like a high-quality intimate partner,” according to a new study from the University of South Wales Sydney’s School of Psychology, which was published in Motivational Science.
In other words, these games tap into human desires by providing a sense of autonomy, social cohesion and competency, which are all motivators for behavior. These psychological needs are fulfilled while selecting weapons for an upgrade, working together with other game characters or completing goals or missions.
“Violent video games lend themselves to [our psychological needs] because they’re designed in a way that allows us to achieve a sense of control and accomplishment, and they help us figure out where we sit in a social hierarchy [based on our performance in them],” study co-author Michael Kasumovic said in a news release.
Violent video games also allow players to face precarious situations in the safety of their homes and regulate their emotions.
“Violent video games help explore our fears around death and can help with the expression of emotions, particularly anger,” Kasumovic added. “Before, people might have gone outside to play with others. Now, we have the means to do this through digital interactions.
Moreover, these games urge players to improve their skills so they can move up in the ranking system.
“You get instant feedback on the outcome of your performance, and there’s a positive feedback loop that drives you to play more because you want to improve in the game and improve your standing against others,” Kasumovic explained.
“That can be problematic if it overtakes your life and decreases your capacity to self-care, and we think some individuals may be more prone to that than others,” he added.
In the future, the researchers wish to investigate the prosocial effects of playing violent video games.
“We hope the research will help to broaden people’s minds, perspectives and understandings around video games because they’re complex. They’re not going away. If anything, [the landscape] is only going to become more intense,” Kasumovic concluded.