Frustration at Games' Difficulty is What Really Makes Us Aggressive

By Gary Cutlack on at

New research into the hot potato of video games and if they cause violence or not has uncovered a new aspect of the problem, claiming that it's our fury at frustrating level design and our inability to master situations that triggers the HULK SMASH impulse.

As anyone who's every irrationally smashed a £40 game controller in a sulk over being killed by a pretend man eight times in a row will tell you, the paper titled Competence-impeding electronic games and players’ aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviours is bang on the money.

The researchers from Oxford University's Internet Institute claim it's these endless sources of gaming frustration that trigger anger, saying: "When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression. We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone's competencies, they'll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not."

The study included 600 university-aged students, who were tested while playing normal versions of games and custom-built non-violent alternatives. Some games had their controls deliberately tampered with to make failure more likely, with the result being that failures that involved "threats to our ego" made players more likely to be "hostile and mean" to others.

So your crappy Titanfall performance last night is why you shouted at your mum over breakfast. [Cnet]