Does moral decision-making in video games mirror the real world?

October 3, 2012
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly in print and online that explores the psychological and social issues surrounding the Internet and interactive technologies. Credit: © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Making moral judgments is increasingly a central element of the plots of popular video games. Do players of online video games perceive the content and characters as real and thus make moral judgments to avoid feeling guilty? Or does immoral behavior such as violence and theft make the game any more or less enjoyable? The article "Mirrored Morality: An Exploration of Moral Choice in Video Games" published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Andrew Weaver and Nicky Lewis, Indiana University, Bloomington, studied how players make moral choices in video games and what effects those choices have on their to the games. In general, players tended to make "moral" decisions and to treat game characters as though they were actual people. Although behaving in antisocial ways was associated with greater guilt, it did not affect player enjoyment.

"Although preliminary, these results point to the utility of games as teaching and educational tools, as well as important tools for the assessment of behavior," says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and , from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA. "These findings indicate how real the virtual world can become when one suspends disbelief and immerses oneself in the scenario."

Explore further: The two worlds of kids' morals

More information: The article is available free online on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website.

Related Stories

The two worlds of kids' morals

March 2, 2009

Children's moral behavior and attitudes in the real world largely carry over to the virtual world of computers, the Internet, video games and cell phones. Interestingly, there are marked gender and race differences in the ...

Online dating scammers looking for money, not love

March 28, 2012

Online romance scams, a new form of cybercrime, is under-reported and increasing, and has victimized an estimated 230,000 people in England, costing them nearly $60 billion a year, according to an article in Cyberpsychology, ...

Recommended for you

Tiny diatoms boast enormous strength

February 8, 2016

Diatoms are single-celled algae organisms, around 30 to 100 millionths of a meter in diameter, that are ubiquitous throughout the oceans. These creatures are encased within a hard shell shaped like a wide, flattened cylinder—like ...

Claims for solar cell efficiency put to test at NREL

February 8, 2016

The sheet of paper taped to the door of Keith Emery's office tells the story. On the paper is a simple fever chart showing the improvements made in increasing the efficiency of two dozen types of solar cells. Some of the ...

Search engines will know what you want ... sooner

February 8, 2016

If you enter "Oklahoma" in a search engine, you might get a travelogue, news about the oil industry, Oklahoma State football scores or an article on Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. What appears at the top of the list might ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.