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Can video games inspire altruism?

(Editor’s Note: we are pleased to bring you this arti­cle thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine).

Gam­ing for Good
Research sug­gests that games like Lem­mings, where the goal is to help oth­ers, inspire real-life acts of altru­ism.
— By Kyle Smith

For years, video games have been linked to aggres­sion and vio­lence, with researchers and media reports sug­gest­ing that vio­lent games have inspired or even caused vio­lent acts.

But a new study sug­gests that video games can be a force for good, find­ing that games with pos­i­tive objec­tives can actu­al­ly inspire peo­ple to per­form acts of altru­ism.

lemmings-435x285Over four exper­i­ments, Tobias Gre­it­e­mey­er and Sil­ia Oss­wald, researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex in Eng­land and Lud­wig-Max­i­m­il­ian Uni­ver­si­ty in Ger­many, respec­tive­ly, had par­tic­i­pants play either a “proso­cial” game—a game where the goal is to help others—or a “neu­tral” game, mean­ing it has no char­ac­ters with whom to inter­act pos­i­tive­ly or neg­a­tive­ly, like Tetris. Then the researchers placed the par­tic­i­pants in sit­u­a­tions where they had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help oth­ers, rang­ing from low-risk sit­u­a­tions, such as see­ing a dropped cup of pen­cils, to high-risk ones, like wit­ness­ing an angry ex-boyfriend harass an exper­i­menter.

Gre­it­e­mey­er and Oss­wald want­ed to see if the par­tic­i­pants wee more like­ly to inter­vene Read the rest of this entry »

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