Playing Games Makes You A Better Person?

So often in society obvious conclusions are drawn for complex interactions. A classic case of this is the supposed rise in violent crime and video games. Firstly the rise in crime is indeed far more a media phenomena than a reality. In many countries crime is decreasing and certainly if looked at in a historical context is far less than was the case previously. The relationship with violent video games is clearly contentious.

The debate over the crime rates notwithstanding the counter logic of video games is something that until recently had not been tested, namely do pro-social video games result in pro-social behaviour? A study which was reviewed in the Economist (2009) and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology demonstrated that pro-social video games can indeed lead to pro-social behaviour. This was further supported by correlative research outside the laboratory looking at behaviour in gamers from Asia. Those involved in pro-social games were more likely to help, share and empathise than those involved in more violent and self-serving games. This finding is supported by work by Greitemeyer and Osswald which found that the positive impact of pro-social gaming is independent of whether someone is a ‘nice person’ (i.e. pro-social games produce positive behaviour independent of the person’s inclination to being nice).

In reading this article my thoughts naturally drifted toward business applications. Given the rise in consciousness around psychotic managers and bullying behaviour at work a suitable intervention may well be pro-social video games. Due to the subtle manner in which the games may affect cognition, the potential for video games to have a more positive impact on behaviour at work than perhaps a classic training intervention may indeed be something to explore.

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One thought on “Playing Games Makes You A Better Person?

  1. Marcel van Wijk

    Dear Paula,

    With great interest i read your article ‘Playing Games Makes You A Better Person?’… I recently finished a mastercourse on Serious Game Design at the TU Delft in The Netherlands and found out that people playing games really makes them show their natural behaviour. They want to win (in any case they do not want to loose), even if they are players of the same game. I have just developed a serious game (low tech) in which specific competences are adressed and the players have to co-operate or eles the cannot reach the goal of the game. They learn what their natural reactions are when placed under timepressure and have to rely on the other to help because they do not have all the information.

    I believe that through gaming true change of behaviour can occur or at the least the awareness of certain behaviour… and that is the start of true change. Gaming is the perfect means to an end I believe and I am applying more and more games in my interventions. no more training for me… I go for gaming!

    Right now I am thinking of applying gaming in asessmentsituations to identify developmentissues for individuals and teams.

    Reply

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