Road Rage

I just read an interesting post on GamePolitics that suggests that driving games lead to greater aggression than shooting games.  I think that’s an interesting bit of data.  I can offer several explanations why this might be true:

1) Driving games closely mirror real-life activities and thus one might expect more transference between game and reality.  People would thus get tense if they fear crashing in a game, since in real life crashing can be deadly serious.  Shooting games don’t mirror the life experiences of most players, veterans and SWAT members excluded; I imagine such games are more stressful to those players than to the general public.

2) “Losing” a shooter means reloading from the last save point; generally players proceed for moderate to long periods without having to reload.  “Losing” in a race has a great association of failure, and often requires repeating the race.  Obviously, when you do repeat a race, you repeat it from the start, not from a save point.

3) Violence is often the result of stress, while driving is a source of stress – plain and simple.  Violent outbursts vent frustration… though it’s been argued fairly successfully that catharsis doesn’t work in this regard; in real life, violent outbursts don’t lead to calmer patients.  Still, indulging in simulated violence can be relaxing as a virtual outlet for stress.  Driving, especially competitively, is a fun but potentially very frustrating experience – whether real or simulated.  

I like driving games, but they do make my pulse race more than blasting zombies.  I think the above contribute to that experience.


3 comments so far

  1. Tesh on

    Interesting. I find a nice session of Burnout Revenge a lot more relaxing than any FPS game. Maybe because it’s so obviously *not* like real life driving?

  2. foolsage on

    That’s an interesting cross between the genres… a racing game that’s also about violence. In some regards I think the violence in games like that becomes a more central part of the game than the racing… people even create metagames like “can I flip this car” or “how many pedestrians can I hit”?

  3. Tesh on

    Thankfully, there are no pedestrians in B:Revenge. There are no drivers. I can play it like a “grown up” version of the HotWheels crash derbies that my sister and I tinkered with as young’uns (where nobody got hurt because *of course* all the cars were remote control). If it were realistic, with blood, pedestrians, and the like, I’d not want to play it.

    The draw of the game is certainly the crazy things that can be done with physics when it’s OK to crash cars around, and there’s no lasting damage done. (Crashed cars pop right up for the next round, a bit like those old “crack up” Hot Wheels. Street fighter for cars?)

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