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Study: Video games cause aggression, but only if you are stupid

People who play video games are more likely to be aggressive due to frustrating game mechanics rather than actual violence, a new study reports.

The Oxford research institute, which published the research, carried out a range of tests involving modded versions of Valve's ever-popular Half Life 2 (opens in new tab).

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Participants were faced with a non-violent version of the game where shooting was replaced by tagging enemies who would then disappear.

Some testers were given games modded in such a way that the controls were unintuitive or frustrating, which in turn increased their aggression.

"We focused on the motives of people who play electronic games and found players have a psychological need to come out on top when playing," said Dr Przybylski, according to the BBC (opens in new tab).

"If players feel thwarted by the controls or the design of the game, they can wind up feeling aggressive.

Video games trades body, Tiga, welcomed the study, pointing to it as an encouraging example of psychology taking a more nuanced approach to video games and violence.

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Another study involved two groups playing the non-violent and vanilla versions of Half-Life 2 respectively. On some occasions, however, players were not given a tutorial on what to do.

No matter the type of game, violent or non-violent, the players became annoyed when finding it difficult to progress.

"This need to master the game was far more significant than whether the game contained violent material," added Dr. Przybylski.