WASHINGTON People who play car racing video
games may be more prone to drive recklessly and get into
accidents, according to a study that adds to evidence that
video games can influence the behavior of some players.
The study by German researchers published on Sunday
examined the effect these games, featuring realistic driving
environments with players often racing through city and
suburban traffic, affect people who play them.
"Driving actions in these games often include competitive
and reckless driving, speeding and crashing into other cars or
pedestrians, or performing risky stunts with the vehicle. In
short, most actions in racing games imply a very high risk of
having an accident or severe crash in a highly realistic
virtual road traffic environment," the researchers wrote.
The researchers first questioned 198 men and women. Those
who played the games most often were more likely to report
engaging in aggressive and risky driving and getting in auto
accidents. Those who played these games less often reported
driving more cautiously, the researchers said.
The researchers then studied 68 men and found those who
played even one racing game took more risks afterward in
traffic situations on a computer simulator than those who
played another type of game.
Then the researchers had 83 men play either a racing game
or another type of game, and found that those who played the
racing game reported more thoughts and feelings associated with
risk-taking than the others.
"Risk-acceptance is one of the most prominent and important
factors in the discussion of the origin of accidents caused by
young drivers," Joerg Kubitzki of the Allianz Center for
Technology, who conducted the study along with researchers at
Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University, said by e-mail.
The researchers cited previous research involving the
"shooter" genre of games, in which the player shoots at
adversaries, that found an increase in aggression-related
thoughts and actions among people who played these games. But
they said little had been known about the influence driving
games might have on actual driving behavior of players.
"The question of age restrictions, legally or voluntary,
should be discussed not only for "shooter" games but also for
this kind of games, which have an impact on traffic safety,"
The study appeared in the Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Applied, published by the American Psychological