Sex and violence and playing games: reduced levels of anger after violent online play

The abstract from a psychology conference presentation that argues World of Warcraft lowers the anger levels of players is getting a lot of attention online.  The term “sex” (which appears in the title paired with “violence”) seems to mean “gender” in the abstract, so the title may be a bit misleading. I haven’t heard from anyone who attended the conference presentation, and neither have I read the full study.

Sex and violence and playing games: reduced levels of anger after violent online play
Jane Barnett, Mark Coulson, Nigel Foreman, Middlesex University

Objectives: This study had two main aims. First, to explore the types of anger-causing scenarios experienced when playing WoW. Second, to identify the state emotions experienced before and after the anger-causing scenarios, as a function of sex and personality.

Design: Male and female WoW players (aged between 12 and 83 years) provided examples of anger-causing scenarios they experienced while playing the game (these scenarios formed the World of Warcraft Questionnaire: WoWQ). These scenarios plus other questionnaires examining anger, aggression, and personality, were administered as an online survey. Respondents completed state and trait mood measures, played WoW for a minimum of two hours, and then completed the state measures again. Participants also reported situations ingame that had made them feel angry or aggressive.

Method: Participants were recruited using the official WoW gaming forums. The forum post provided players with a link that took them to the introductory page of the survey. The final number of respondents was 292.

Results: Principal components analyses found a structure identifying four main anger-causing themes in WoW. Correlational and regression analyses examined the relationships between these WoW scenarios, and the emotional and personality constructs of participants. Mixed ANOVAs examined differences between male and female state moods before and after playing WoW. Results suggest that although online gamers are more likely to feel calm or tired after playing, the post-WoW mood state is dependent on sex, age, and personality.

Conclusions: The identification of a specific gamer personality type helped to outline the possible benefits and risks of these individuals who play video games. A standardised questionnaire was developed to examine the concepts investigated in this research, i.e. how anger and aggression vary as a function of personality, sex, and age, in gamers and non-gamers. This study improved the understanding of and the ability to respond effectively to public health threats that arise from playing computer games, and encouraged more responsible communication regarding these issues.