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See detailPlayers' moral decisions in virtual worlds: Morality in video games
Melzer, André UL; Holl, Elisabeth UL

Book published by Oxford University Press (2020)

From complex multi-players to casual gaming: video games are the most common virtual environment for entertainment that younger generations spend a significant time in. Although early game titles already ... [more ▼]

From complex multi-players to casual gaming: video games are the most common virtual environment for entertainment that younger generations spend a significant time in. Although early game titles already featured morality-related topics, implementing meaningful eudaimonic playing based on moral decision making has become increasingly popular. Unfortunately, scientific analyses of game-related moral decisions mostly revolve around the effects of players engaging in virtual violence, leading to ongoing heated debates in academia and the general public (e.g., Anderson et al., 2010; Ferguson, 2007). To date, however, only few studies have tried to disentangle the moral aspects of video games from virtual violence (e.g., Joeckel, Bowman, & Dogruel, 2012). The present chapter provides an overview on both established and novel theories on psychological processing of moral decision making in virtual worlds in line with cutting-edge game examples. These theories aim at explaining how games can elicit moral processing as well as the factors that modulate these processes once the player is morally engaged. Based on i.a. aspects of the theory of presence (Biocca, Harms, & Burgoon, 2003; Tamborini & Skalski, 2006), moral disengagement (Bandura, 2002; Hartmann & Vorderer, 2010) and a dual process model of moral judgement (Greene, Sommerville, Nystrom, Darley, & Cohen, 2001; Gubbins & Byrne, 2014; Haidt, 2001), a new model is proposed. Furthermore, individual characteristics such as playing experience, player motivation and moral salience according to the moral foundations theory (Haidt & Joseph, 2008; Tamborini, 2011) are integrated in the model. [less ▲]

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See detailMale vs female gamers: Testing the stereotype threat effect in video gaming
Holl, Elisabeth UL; Wagener, Gary Lee; Melzer, André UL

Scientific Conference (2019, September 17)

Stereotype threat (ST), defined as the risk of confirming a negative stereotype about one’s own group, has been demonstrated in various social contexts. Regarding video games, for example, informing ... [more ▼]

Stereotype threat (ST), defined as the risk of confirming a negative stereotype about one’s own group, has been demonstrated in various social contexts. Regarding video games, for example, informing female participants that men would outperform women in gaming leads to gender differences in performance. To date, however, these studies have not looked into the mechanisms of this ST effect in gaming. In two lab studies (N=186), some participants were confronted with ST-related information before playing a video game. In Study 1, half of the participants read a bogus article confirming the “standard” gender stereotype (“men outperform women”). In Study 2, a reverse stereotype was presented to half of the participants (“women have outpaced men in some game genres”). In contrast to hypotheses, both studies failed to show the expected significant interaction effect of gender and ST condition on performance, although female participants confronted with the “standard” gender stereotype reported greater frustration in Study 1, for example. In sum, results indicate a complex relationship between gender, social identity, experience with the game genre, and behavior. Identifying oneself as a gamer and being experienced in a particular game genre were found to be better performance predictors than reading stereotype threatening information. [less ▲]

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See detail“It felt wrong to me to play that way” Understanding moral decision-making in video games through focus group discussions
Holl, Elisabeth UL; Bernard, Steve; Melzer, André UL

in Nebel, Steve; Pietschmann, Daniel; Schneider, Sascha (Eds.) et al Proceedings of the Media Psychology Division (2019, September 05)

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See detailRise of the machines - Moral decisions in Detroit: Become Human
Holl, Elisabeth UL

Scientific Conference (2019, May)

Moral decisions in video games have become increasingly popular. This work in progress project applies established theories on mediated morality (e.g., MIME; Tamborini, 2011) to the cutting-edge video ... [more ▼]

Moral decisions in video games have become increasingly popular. This work in progress project applies established theories on mediated morality (e.g., MIME; Tamborini, 2011) to the cutting-edge video game Detroit: Become Human. The in the game implemented feature of displaying world statistics provides valuable information on how players engage in meaningful moral decision within a virtual world. Statistics will be aggregated and analyzed in relation to the available decision time span, the involved characters and different moral foundations. [less ▲]

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See detailWho’s afraid of Donkey Kong? Testing the Stereotype Threat Effect in Video Gaming
Holl, Elisabeth UL; Wagener, Gary L.; Melzer, André UL

Scientific Conference (2019, May)

In two studies (Study 1: N = 130; Study 2: N = 56) participants played a video game (Bejeweled 3; SkyChasers) and were either confronted with a stereotype threat (ST) or not. ST is defined as the risk of ... [more ▼]

In two studies (Study 1: N = 130; Study 2: N = 56) participants played a video game (Bejeweled 3; SkyChasers) and were either confronted with a stereotype threat (ST) or not. ST is defined as the risk of confirming a negative stereotype about one’s own group and has been investigated in various field, i.a. in gaming. In the first study participants were confronted with the stereotype that women would perform worse in video games than men. In the second study we worked with a reversed stereotype, namely that women would have now outpaced males in some genres of video games. Our results show that performance varies across gender and genre. Although we did not find the hypothesized interaction effect of gender and ST condition in performance, self-reported measures, such as perceived frustration, and moderating variables indicate performance differences both for women and men, but on different psychological dimensions. [less ▲]

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See detailIt's not only the game, it's also the player: The role of player personality in violent video game preference
Holl, Elisabeth UL; Melzer, André UL

Scientific Conference (2018, November 03)

In contrast to the effects of game content, violent video games have less been researched with regard to players' preferences for these games, and whether these preferences are related to certain ... [more ▼]

In contrast to the effects of game content, violent video games have less been researched with regard to players' preferences for these games, and whether these preferences are related to certain personality characteristics. Using a novel brief and uni-dimensional self-report measure, the present research examined the role of personality factors and preferences for violent video games. A scale of five items was administrated in two studies that involved 292 and 180 respondents, respectively. The same scale with two additional items was presented to 190 respondents in the third study, which included measures revealed by prior research to be relevant for understanding violent video game motivation and preference. More specifically, we measured participants' trait aggression, the Dark Triad traits of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism. To test for the scale's discriminant validity, trait empathy was also included. In line with other findings in the literature (e.g., Greitemeyer, 2015), results obtained with the self-report measure indicated that players with a propensity for games featuring violent themes show callous, impulsive and exploitative attributes, whereas narcissism was not a significant predictor. However, and as already suggested by some authors (Hartmann, Möller, & Krause, 2014), a lack of empathy was found to predict violent game preferences. The present findings are important with regard to future research on video games that should focus more on the players and their gaming motivation than on the effects of playing alone. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentifying the Cognitive Mechanism Behind Breaks in Presence using Measures of Attention
Holl, Elisabeth UL; Huber, Kerstin; Liebold, Benny et al

Scientific Conference (2018, May 28)

Presence is the perceptual illusion of non-mediation in virtual environments with breaks in presence (BIPs) marking events where the user’s attention is shifted away from the virtual to the physical ... [more ▼]

Presence is the perceptual illusion of non-mediation in virtual environments with breaks in presence (BIPs) marking events where the user’s attention is shifted away from the virtual to the physical environment. Using the concept of BIP allows to investigate specific episodes during virtual encounters, where the state of presence is interrupted. Orienting responses have been identified as a promising cognitive mechanism behind BIPs. However, the differences of orienting to narrative stimuli versus BIPs remains to be investigated. In the current study, we combined established psychophysiological measures of orienting (ECG, GSR) with psychophysiological (pupil dilation) and behavioral measures (STRT) of attention. BIPs are considered to elicit stronger orienting responses and require more cognitive resources. In an experiment, participants navigated through a virtual environment while having to react to narrative and external (BIPs) stimuli. While the data collection has been completed, results from the analysis will be discussed at the conference. [less ▲]

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See detailWe are slowly getting there: Towards Continuous Assessment of Presence in Virtual Environments
Liebold, Benny; Pietschmann, Daniel; Huber, Kerstin et al

Scientific Conference (2017, September 07)

The phenomenon of non-mediation is an important factor in virtual experiences. Users seem to ignore their physical surroundings and become present in the virtual environment (VE). Assessing presence in ... [more ▼]

The phenomenon of non-mediation is an important factor in virtual experiences. Users seem to ignore their physical surroundings and become present in the virtual environment (VE). Assessing presence in VEs with continuous measures is an ongoing effort both to complement the data provided by self-report measures and to identify specific events during virtual experiences that disrupt presence (“breaks in presence”; BIPs, Slater & Steed, 2002). Early studies employed self-report measures for BIPs, but have also identified specific psychophysiological reactions bearing the potential to develop a continuous measure—the nature of these reactions, however, has been unclear. We argue that BIPs can be considered as orienting responses (ORs; Sokolov, 1963) as users interact with VEs based on dedicated mental models and direct all their attention to virtual stimuli. When a new virtual stimulus is incompatible with these mental models, an OR is triggered, directing user attention at the source of the stimulus to determine its cause. ORs have been linked to psychophysiological reactions (Bradley, 2009) similar to the ones reported for BIPs. We designed a series of three studies to investigate this account to BIPs. Two studies are already complete, while a third study is currently being conducted. In all studies, users played Skyrim (Bethesda, 2011) modified to include stimuli that can be considered as BIPs not belonging to the VE. We measured psychophysiological responses using ECG and GSR. In study 1 (N = 31) participants played for M = 82.08 minutes (SD = 34.23) and encountered ten different types of BIP stimuli (e.g. error message, game crash) determined empirically through a prestudy. In line with previous literature on ORs, we found significant responses in ECG and GSR for all BIPs with a clearly defined stimulus onset. Additionally, we found a habituation effect of repeated exposure to the error message consistent with habituation of orienting. Analysis of blinking activity showed prolonged intervals during BIPs consistent with the information acquisition function of ORs. In study 2 (N = 69) participants played for M = 22.02 minutes (SD = 7.1). We employed a modified secondary-task reaction time (STRT) procedure in addition to psychophysiological measurements to compare ORs towards a game-related stimulus with ORs towards a BIP-stimulus. By pressing a footswitch, participants had to react to a crying baby, embedded into the game’s narrative, or a similarly pitched interference pattern of two sinewaves. Although we expected faster reaction times for game-related stimuli, we found similar reaction times for both types of stimuli. However, we could replicate the psychophysiological patterns from study 1. Both sounds equally elicited ORs with game-related stimuli leading to stronger responses and habituation. The data from the first two studies indicate that BIPs can be considered a type of OR, suggesting a promising avenue towards continuous measurement of presence. Following a similar design, Study 3 employs a STRT task based on more intricate considerations of the processes in human working memory (Oberauer, 2009). Additionally, pupil dilation is being assessed to investigate cognitive load associated with responses to game-related stimuli and BIPs. [less ▲]

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See detailA Modified Secondary Task Reaction Time Paradigm for Research on Breaks in Presence
Huber, Kerstin; Holl, Elisabeth UL; Liebold, Benny et al

Scientific Conference (2017, May 28)

Breaks in presence are considered a promising approach to investigate events where users are pulled out of their virtual experiences. In this paper, we argue that this methodology may also provide ... [more ▼]

Breaks in presence are considered a promising approach to investigate events where users are pulled out of their virtual experiences. In this paper, we argue that this methodology may also provide insights into the cognitive processes behind the presence experience. To this end, we combined breaks in presence with a modified version of the secondary task reaction times paradigm and psychophysiological measures to tap into the attentional processes behind presence experiences. 69 participants played a modified video game, during which they had to react to sounds that were either part of the story or unrelated (breaks in presence) as a secondary task. We measured their reaction times to both sound types, skin conductance responses and heart rate variability. Participants reacted equally fast to virtual and BIP-eliciting stimuli. Both types of stimuli elicit orienting responses with our virtual stimulus leading to stronger responses and habitualization. Avenues for future research are discussed. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 43 (14 UL)