Study: Racing games can cause reckless driving

German University researchers find that racing gamers are more prone to take bigger risks in real-world traffic.

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In racing games, it's common for a player to risk wrecking a vehicle to win a race. Now, according to German researchers, those same players may display dangerous driving habits in real-world traffic. Their findings come less than a month after a British study came to a similar conclusion.

According to Reuters, a joint study by Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Allianz Center for Technology found that players of racing games were "more likely" to engage in risk-taking behavior when driving. No specific game titles or platforms were mentioned.

"Driving actions in these games often include competitive and reckless driving, speeding and crashing into other cars or pedestrians, or performing risky stunts with the vehicle," the report read. "Most actions in racing games imply a very high risk of having an accident or severe crash in a highly realistic virtual road traffic environment." The study appeared in the most recent issue of the American Psychological Association's Journal of Experimental Psychology.

The study's initial sample was of 198 men and women, though it went on to focus on a group of 68 men. Those in the latter group who said they had played a single racing game also said they engaged in more potentially dangerous behavior than those who did not. Researchers then had a group of 83 men play either a racing game or another type of game. Of that group, the racing game players "reported more thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking than the others."

"Risk-acceptance is one of the most prominent and important factors in the discussion of the origin of accidents caused by young drivers," Joerg Kubitzki, an Allianz Center for Technology researcher, told Reuters. "The question of age restrictions, legally or voluntary, should be discussed...for these kind of games, which have an impact on traffic safety."

The racing game study is the second game-related study performed by the Allianz Center for Technology and Ludwig-Maximilians University. Previously, the two bodies researched the effect of shooting games, which they concluded led to more aggressive thoughts in subjects. Germany is currently debating restricting violent game sales following a November school shooting by a mentally unbalanced player of Counter-Strike, which spawned several copycat incidents.

Discussion

179 comments
wayofthesauce
wayofthesauce

They are taking a study of 80 men...out of a population number in the millions. 80/1million isnt even a tenth of a percent. Their pool of people to gather data from is far too small to be considered as a serious study. Similar research uses numbers in the tens of thousands to make comparisons to the population. And the sad part of all this is that laws might be changed because of a bad experiment.

killerkop
killerkop

Thoughts and feelings are one thing, action is another. Who conducted this study, the Catholic Church? Thoughts do not equal actions!

InvaderSora
InvaderSora

No, Being a dumbass can cause reckless driving. What enxt? KH2 can cause kids to climb up clock towers and eat ice cream, kick lampposts, ride skateboards without helmets, etc.. ANd Mario games cause animal abuse!! Damn stupid poeple!

jfranks6106
jfranks6106

I have to agree with several people on this board, it comes down to the person. Not everyone who plays counter-strike is going to go shoot there school up, and not everyone who plays racing games is going to go drive crazy. I think its retarded countrys feel the need to ban violent games because of a few shootings....thats life, its gonna happen regardless of a few violent video games being on the shelfs or not. As for the whole scientific study, unless you were there or not you don't really know what was found, I could release a "scientific" study tomorrow saying that monkeys without bananas go into violent seizures, does that make it true? of course not, Unless the study shows some good hard facts of how they obtained there results they shouldn't sway you one way or another. Cuz when it comes down to it for every study group that finds some results theres gonna be another study group to say they didn't come up with the same results at all.

Brother_Boney
Brother_Boney

I'm amazed by the way people dismiss scientifical studies just like that. There is a correlation between enjoying the feeling of risk, reported bad traffic behaviour and playing racing video games. Read it again, boys. "how many people have crashed their cars after playing Burnout? How many people walk around streets with a bazooka after playing GTA" In science, you have to narrow things down and search for the key mechanisms behind the phenomenon you want to research being very exact. Here those feelings and reported driving habits are two of such factors. The correlation is there! Why are you saying it is not? Playing a game may not cause you to crash your car, but it may encourage some people to take more risks! However, restricting game sales is pure hypocrisy as alcohol still has a greater effect in accidents, murders etc. Games do not make people do things, but studies such as this clearly point out that they may have an effect on people's behaviour. We need to know.

hwatney
hwatney

Well, you remember how rock music, and then Dungeons and Dragons, and then Doom II and then GTA et all were responsible for everything bad in the world? I think we all should be far more concerned about people who play RTS games. Clearly if you play too much Rome: Total War or Supreme Commander you might be tempted to try and take over the world. Maybe I should include sims as well; we all know Microsoft Flight Simulator caused 9/11. Congress should pass as many stifling laws as possible and an activist senator should hold several high profile public news conferences on this issue immediately. Otherwise we may all be tempted to forget about it until the next study makes the papers. By then it may be too late and we'll all be up to our ears in rock and roll loving, video game playing mobsters who drive on sidewalks, kill prostitutes for fun and keep trying to take over the world. Chilling thought.

Spartan8907
Spartan8907

I agree 100% leezeebub. I am a racing game fanatic. I just love racing games. I'm 17 and really just learning to drive. I've driven before and I can tell you that I had no thoughts what-so-ever of crashing, speeding, or any other reckless behavior...I'm a little disturbed about that last line. Who cares if he is a player of counter-strike? The key phrase there is "mentally umbalanced." People like that dont need games to tell them to go out and shoot people.

leezeebub
leezeebub

it still comes down to the person. a responsible person will drive safely even with risky thoughts running through their head. an irrisponsible person would take the risk before thinking. a person cant blame their actions on a game, only on their own stupidity.

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

These stories are all the same. I could do a study that proves that everyone who is currently on crack started on milk. Big deal right? For that matter I could also refute my story by doing another study that proves that all people who are on crack still drink milk and that it has good effects on their crack problems! God these Anti-game people need to get a life! Games are here to stay and there is nothing you can do to get them off the streets. They don't make people go out and kill in real life, they don't make people smash into cars on the streets, they for sure don't make people shoot other people, last but not least they are not used by terrorists to recrute our kids.

brutons
brutons

Alcohol, tiredness and stress are still the main causes of vehicle accidents, by a country mile, littered with dead bodies. I find it quite funny that this was a German study as they are known to actually have no speed limits on many of the strecthes of autobahn, and still have one of the lowest accident rates in Europe. Probably just a PhD student desperate for a thesis.

double_decker
double_decker

If they are of legal age to drive and aren't mature enough to understand the difference between games and real life then they will lose thier license soon enough anyways.... I hope that many people don't really lack that kind of common sense:|

TTDog
TTDog

Where do they get funding for mindless garbage like this, wonder if I can get funding to test the theory that "If I sit on my ar5e all day, eat pies and drink lager - I will get fat"

Lum_Yatsura
Lum_Yatsura

There already was an Incredible Crash Dummies game. What's next? Robot Chicken? LOL.

TheSlanger
TheSlanger

It's so individual how much effect games have on people. All I can say is: PWNED

ketsuatama
ketsuatama

Its not just the young/ impressionables, my dad has started to show Burnout tendencies and he is in his 50's!!

neinnunb
neinnunb

I want a flame thrower and missile launcher on my car to rid my city of Sunday drivers. I think I also read somewhere that Nascar and F1 drivers have more accidents than the average person when they drive around in their normal cars.

StanAce
StanAce

Racing games can cause reckless driving? Yeah, sure it can. Not to most people though. I can play all the racing games I want, but that doesn't mean I'll start disregarding my own life as well as the safety of others when I'm on the road. There's a difference between real life and play. If people can't make that difference, then they have issues.

nuttabutta
nuttabutta

God this is so true my brother has been playing Saints Row for a while and everytime we're in the car he'll say "let's ram that car and shoot it and make explosions!" He's 12, but still, it changes one's perception when driving/riding in the car.

Felaipes
Felaipes

neinnunb wasnt there an identical news article about driving and games here just a few weeks ago? yeah, same thing... i think this is true...every time i drive i just wanna do a takedown to some car next to me...

shaokang
shaokang

i think that this is true. try driving after hours of playing san andreas

neinnunb
neinnunb

wasnt there an identical news article about driving and games here just a few weeks ago?

Autolycus
Autolycus

this just in watching football can make people violent. time to get rid of the NFL.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Oh really? I do doubt this test validity. You can't say oh these people weren't good drivers after playing this game! Really they were probably not good drivers before, a lot of people just are horrible drivers. It's not because the play video games. Also this is a test on a smaller group of people, they would have to test many more to make this in any way believable.

Phaje
Phaje

Jack Thompson: "OH NOOOES!!1!1 games are cause teh violence lol!!!1"

SpecterSniper
SpecterSniper

I like racing games and have been known to drive recklessly a few times. I mean combined with the right music its hard to resist the urge sometimes lol. Never got into an accident tho, im not stupid enough to reck my own car. But then again, anyone with power under the hood is prone to drive a little reckless, not just racing gamers.

Drakshon
Drakshon

A survey of 198 men and women wouldn't be enough people to even bother publishing the findings. We would have laughed at that in our lab. The second part of the study is a joke as well. 68 people total? Ideally that would be 34 people who played racing games and 34 people who didn't. Once again thats not enough to even begin to make a claim. You put people who feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car or even a simulated car they are going to take more "risks" then those who aren't comfortable. I would rather see how many crashed the simulated car between the racing game players and the non racing game players. On another note, even in our study we had to take account of the varying degrees in skill between gamers. Just because someone "plays racing games" doesn't mean they have a clue what they are doing. I can't count how many FPS players we got in that couldn't even begin to play the "bad" FPS game we gave them. I also can't count how many people said they played a type of game and after some addition questioning they had never actually "played" it but they had seen it before. As for thoughts of aggressive driving after a RACING game. Duh? Ask a foodball player if he has violent thoughts after a football game. Unless you’re a brain dead vegetable you’re probably thinking about the activity your doing. I hope no one is playing a racing game mindlessly that would worry me more than them having aggressive thoughts or a Counterstrike player who is thinking about fluffy bunnies.

BrodiMan
BrodiMan

I won't lie, sometimes when I'm driving to work I'm constantly looking for the the turbo button. I just don't feel comfortable taking corners and not being in some sort of a controlled drift. When I get home in the evening I'm looking to purchase new parts to upgrade my car. And when I leave again in the morning I have to leave a trail of smoke and skid marks in my driveway or else I don't feel like I've properly started my day... I think I have a problem...:[

zsc4
zsc4

Well watching the news can cause terrorist bombings, rape, murder, suicide, and make more things that they show in the News. Stop only blaming games, when the things they do in the there daily life's can cause much greater destructions.

REDLiNE_10
REDLiNE_10

Typical example of people just playing the blame game.

Sydwynder
Sydwynder

Here's the thing. After playing the GTA games and driving recklessly in the game, if I got into the drivers seat of my own I noticed myself getting that same reckless feeling for about 2 seconds. Then the rational part of the brain kicks in and says slow down. Maybe the crazy people out there who have a malfunctioning rational part of the brain should not play video games, or watch movies, or listen to rockand roll or read the newspaper, or leave their house............................

ma6ic
ma6ic

I am a video game researcher here in the states (also a gamer). We actually see a lot of studies like this in the scientific literature. They are decent studies that come to the wrong conclusions. Many of you have made good comments about the sample size (83 men) and who these guys are. Good place to start criticism. The real problem with this study is that they had people play a racing game, then play a simulator to see if the simulation experience was more risky than those who did not play a racing game. In other words, they had people play a game, and then play another game. Then they conclude that real-world behaviors will be more dangerous. People know it's a simulation, no matter how realistic it is, it still comes without the motivations to drive reasonably such as insurance, physical safety, etc.... These results do not generalize to the real world like the article says. The study, I assume, is smarter about how they talk about correlation and causation. These things are usually misconstrued by the press due to lack of science knowledge. Correlation does not equal causation. Exciting video games contribute to more arousal in players? I buy that, it makes sense. Crazy Taxi = crazy driving on city streets? I see no evidence of that here.

John_of_Fire
John_of_Fire

I bet after watching Bullet people drive more reckless. I bet after having caffeine people drive more reckless. So what so do many things.

gbrading
gbrading moderator

It's all to do with who will be influenced by what is a computer simulation. The vast majority of players are sensible and understand perfectly well that video games are just that, and not to be imitated. It's when you get someone who is already unbalanced in someway or easily influenced that it can become dangerous. Exactly the same thing can be said for alcohol and driving.

LoneStranger
LoneStranger

Study: Taking on your cellphone can cause reckless driving. There are more people using cell phones while driving than playing video games at home.

bgres077
bgres077

Another knock on video games. I've played GTA, I've crashed cars in racing games, and I have never crasehd a car and never killed anyone with a bat. Only a miniscule percentage of kids take what they see in video games into real life.

dr3b
dr3b

Study: Racing games can cause reckless driving .... by idiots - oh and wrestling makes kids violent

aransom
aransom

This is great fodder for the anti-personal-responsibility crowd. You run over an old lady, and it's not really your fault because you don't know the difference between a video game and real life. We've had reckless driving long before there were video games, what was causing it then?

hector1313
hector1313

Aye... 83 men are truly representative of the billions of people in the world who play video games. They should at least replicate the findings in other places before telling the world that however many of the 83 men (only men...) felt they would take more risks while driving.

aphex5
aphex5

i drive in real life just like i do in video games.........on the sidewalk,thru bushes,runnin people over,off the edge of a cliff into the sea and i've only been dead for about 10 years now.

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

Vorador47 For someone who claims to hate complainers, you sure are complaining a lot. sun_spirit "This can only be true by letting certain types of people play these games, only the kinds of people who are likely to mimic are going to risk crashing. How many adults do you see running around with a katana?" If you have ever taken a sociology course, then you would know that everyone is subconsciously affected by the things that go on around them. Although in many cases this may be trivial, this study is shows that, like it or not, video games do affect many peoples behaviors.

Mcgnnis1
Mcgnnis1

You know i am sick and tired of all these reports. I mean come on how many people have crashed their cars after playing Burnout? How many people walk around streets with a bazooka after playing GTA? I don't know where these accidents happen that causes these studies.I don't hear peopel saying that playing games is actually a good thing. Its always something wrong about playing games to those pesky analysts.

danof76
danof76

Boy I'm glad I don't live in a country where they can get away with banning media. Go America.

Unassigned
Unassigned

And playing Def-Jam can cause lower IQ's.... why is this news?

sun_spirit
sun_spirit

This can only be true by letting certain types of people play these games, only the kinds of people who are likely to mimic are going to risk crashing. How many adults do you see running around with a katana?

jknight5422
jknight5422

All one has to do is watch a video about shock trauma of crash victims & how it takes nearly a year to retrain your brain on everything you know, & how you have memory problems forever (with some people only remembering 30 seconds at a time) to really make you think twice about reckless driving. You might live, but you won't be the same person.

OrianaDorta
OrianaDorta

I love racing games... but i'm not that stupid to drive with high speed like i do in the games. Where did those people got their driving license?.

ruin131
ruin131

i would have to agree as well. a gun does not kill someone it is the person that pulls the trigger! same as if you are behind the wheel, the car did not cause the wreck.