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To Kill Or Not To Kill: Video Game Choices Might Unmask True Identities


Courtesy of Ghost Story Games

In Bioshock Infinite, a simple premise — a guy, a girl, a gun — animates a mind-bending story.

The debate has raged for years about violent video games, and whether playing them can make the player more violent.

And a new study of 17,000 adolescents over seven years says, yes, violent games DO make players more aggressive.

But is there a way to determine if some players are liable to become more violent than others?

UNLV assistant professor Michael McCreery is focused on moral-choice video games as a way to identify children at risk for behavioral problems.

McCreery and his team are using an off-the-shelf game called "The Deed" to get a better understanding of behavior.

The game is a simple role-playing game that asks players a set of questions. The objective is to get away with murder.

McCreery said the game offers a range of choices for the answers to those questions and which answer someone chooses could help researchers better understand his personality, and if needed, help him build skills to deal with anti-social behaviors.

The researchers are testing their theories by assessing people before they play the game and after the game then comparing that information with how they answered questions.

McCreery said that so far the game has not coordinated with pro-active aggression but the game doesn't allow for that kind aggressive behavior but it has coordinated with reactive aggression.

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Right now, the game is only be used to asses adults. McCleery would like to come to a point where it could be used to evaluate children. However, he said it wouldn't be used as one test to evaluate how someone would behave. Instead, it would be part of a battery of tests and assessments that could help teachers, parents and school counselors know what kind of help a child might need.

“I would describe it more that we might know how they would typically behave," he said, "And then, understanding how they would typically behave, we can then look at how do we provide them the necessary tools and skills to help engage with the world in a more pro-social perspective.”

(Editor's note: This interview originally aired November 2018)


Professor Michael McCreery, Educational Psychology and Technology, UNLV Department of Education

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