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Can a Video Game Make Someone Nice?
The Positive Impact of Pro-social Games

By Karl M. Kapp / November 2012

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  • Mon, 04 Mar 2013
    Post by Peter Orton

    That a pro-social game can highten pro-social behavior immediately after playing the game is no surprise. Nor is it any big deal. A large research literature on "priming" indicates that ANY pro-social activity will prime immediate pro-social inclination. And it's a heckuva lot cheaper and easier than designing/building a game to have subjects, say, read a pro-social story or watch a short pro-social film if one desires merely to produce in the subjects immediate post-experiment pro-social effects.

    The big questions, which Dr. Clark raises so well, are do games transfer lasting skills to the workplace and, if so, are the learnings worth all the time and expense it takes to build an effective instructional game? Important questions to ask, answers to which -- at least to this instructional designer -- still remain unclear.

    One interesting finding from recent gaming-for-learning studies: Gamers may behave in game situations very differently than if confronting those same situations in real life. For example, just the size of one's game avatar influences a gamer's behavior, as having a larger avatar inclines a gamer to bolder moves and more risk-taking than having a smaller avatar. (Go figure!) And what of the many other elements will alter a gamer's otherwise real-life behaviors?

    Kudos to Ruth Clark for initiating this insightful conversation, and to Karl Kapp for continuing it!

  • Thu, 14 Feb 2013
    Post by Karl Kapp

    Thomas, Thanks for the comment. I think the researchers tried to compensate for the different levels of engagement in the games when they used two different games as pro-social games. This was done so that they could eliminate a particular game as causing the behavior.

    Additionally, a number of studies have been done which reinforce the impact of pro-social gaming and at least one was long longitudinal. More research does need to be done before a definite answer but it seems to be leaning in the direction that the content of the game, if positive, can have positive impacts on players outside of the game.

    See a blog post I wrote which provides some more studies Using Games and Avatars to Change Learner Behavior

  • Sat, 19 Jan 2013
    Post by Thomas

    It can be discussed that there is a connection between the subjects engagement to the game and his/her awareness to his/her surroundings, more so then the connection between pro social behavior and aggressive or neutral games. Tetris for example asks for the player's continues attention and is a very engaging, learn forward, game. A second study where a players pro-social behavior AFTER the game-sessions is compared would make the argument more compelling.