• Mar 15, 2007
Does a three-hour marathon session of Burnout Revenge on the Xbox 360 give you the urge to go wreak automotive havoc on an unsuspecting public? Perhaps not, but you might be more inclined to run a red light or wantonly speed according to a new study that confirms the correlation between racing games and risky behavior behind the wheels. While surveys have been done to establish this correlation in the past, this is one of the first hardcore studies conducted to back up this theory.

Conducted by Peter Fischer at Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Allianz Center for Technology in Germany (Allianz is one of the largest insurance companies in the world), the study took a very scientific approach. Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, it began with interviewing a number of subjects on their driving habits and how often they played video games that featured driving in a real-world setting. Next, researchers actually compared the effect of playing games like Burnout, Midnight Racer and Need for Speed on the brain. It was found that such games did increase cognitions that relate to risk taking and arousal/excitement. Finally, the study gauged whether these types of driving games actually translated into risk-taking behavior by using the widely accepted Vienna Test System. Sure enough, it was found that men (though not women) were more likely to take risks in traffic after playing these games.

The linked article from Arstechnica makes the good point that the study steered clear of driving games like Project Gotham Racing, Forza and Gran Turismo that take place on virtual tracks in controlled environments. Such games, if studied, might be found to promote increased motor skills and concentration since the goal is to get the best lap time and not run over granny in your Gremlin.

What's worrisome, however, is if the correlation between these types of driving games might eventually give the insurance industry cause to increase rates for gamers that like to indulge in a little Grand Theft Auto.

[Source: Arstechnica]


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  • 26 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I find this article very interesting. Lately I've been playing a lot of Burnout Revenge and found myself speeding much more often, even attempting to top out my 535i on the 401 here in Toronto. It's pretty damn fun, its dangerous, but man it's a rush. I hit 235km/h the other night. WOOOOOOO!!

      Go Xbox 360!!!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      You can manipulate data to "prove" any correlation.

      It's possible to make a study that concludes that eating ice cream makes people's eyes more sensitive to light. Yeah, that's bullshit, just like all studies are.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Crap! I was about to take the keys to my mother's 1994 Integra LS and drift it Gran Turismo 4 style.

      (end sarcasm)
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm guessing there is a problem with looking at causation and correlation. Proving causation with video games is very difficult for researchers to do.

      It's already been shown that men are, statistically, riskier drivers than women. So, they would have to prove BEYOND current statistics that the men are increasing their risky behavior beyond a significant point. Also, there must be some form of control or at least an non-racing game stimulant to the study. Such as, a daily test of 50 randomly selected people playing Super Mario Bros. and 50 randomly selected people playing Need for Speed, then looking at their driving habits over the course of the month.

      There are way too many variables in having a group of men and a group of women testing the games then watching their habits.

      I think a more interesting question would be if risky drivers in real life are more likely to play games that reward risky driving in-game.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I used to play NASCAR Racing on my pc for hours. Got a steering and pedal set and raced online against other cool kids :). Since then I find myself clocking the yellow line when I take a log sweeping on or off ramps on the freeway. I stick right to it the whole turn. Its not reckless but I think its kind of funny. A lot of the time I find myself turning late in a corner to 'straighten out' the turn and I brake before the turn and accelerate through. LOL The bad part is I also developed a habit of maybe driving too close to the car in front of me. I'm ok with it but the guy in front probably doesn't realize I'm just drafting.

      But I also played hours of America's Army and neither enlisted nor killed anybody.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree with Steve. The juice for me is an open road and some hoppin tunes. I hope no one reads these or we may have a study and future law banning upbeat music. Lawrence Welk only in the car...
      • 7 Years Ago
      16-18 year old guys who wear their hats on backwards like games like need for speed. they also happen to be shitty drivers. im not sure that one causes another, more like they are both symptoms of being a teenage douschbag.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lies, all lies.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i totally agree on this and i clearly noticed the urge of running pedestrians over when i was driving right after playing GTA few hours
      • 7 Years Ago
      "'Big laugh!Everyone can excuse himself with that claim. Just like virtual shooters provokes real kills. May be true but only for silly people.'

      The statement above is completely ignorant of neurolink technology."

      there is a BIG difference between a game/simulator TRAINING you to do something as opposed PROVOKING you to do something. training a soldier for combat has nothing to do with gran theft auto: homo abortion city. just as forza/GT4 has nothing to do with XTREME AUTO RACING COMBAT 6: ULTIMATE ADRENALINE EXPLOSION!!!

      the videogames make people do things argument is as old as videogames. the one time every couple years when a kid shoots someone in a game and then shoots somone in RL (where is the respawn?), the kid was such a fin retard he was going to find a way to f up somehow.

      BTW, i cant find much information about "neurolink technology". it seems to be a consultancy firm based out of South Africa.

      • 7 Years Ago
      'Big laugh!Everyone can excuse himself with that claim. Just like virtual shooters provokes real kills. May be true but only for silly people.'

      The statement above is completely ignorant of neurolink technology. Please call your representative and tell him to have the US armed forces return the billion doller virtual software they purchase to train their forces to respond and kill their enemy. It's the identical software employed by game companies and accesses the exact area of the brain. Such comments like the one above have got to be better than that in here. Autoblog readers might own a truck, but they didn't fall off it yesterday!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Need For Speed is not a racing game. It's a poser game.
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