As an avid player of video games, I often wonder if they have any effect on the player’s personality. Some of the games, like the GTA series have got some pretty violent themes. This got me doing some research on the internet and this is what I found out:
The types of choices individuals make reveal their true self. This explains why personality greatly determines the type of game an individual chooses to play. Video games are increasingly becoming a popular way for people of different ages to spend their leisure time. People are subconsciously attracted to different video games, depending on their personality. Situational factors, such as mood, may affect the choice of a video game. However, situational factors vary periodically and may therefore not determine consistent preference for a particular video game genre. Nevertheless, personality tends to influence a consistent preference of a particular game.
Hence, the type of game one plays may reflect his character. Additionally, games may provide a better picture of an individuals personality because they are a private interest pursued without coercion. For instance, enthusiastic people show preference to games that involve strategy, such as puzzle games. On the other hand, violent people may show preference to games that involve forms of aggression such as fighting or shooting.
Aggressive or violent peoples show preference for games that involve some form of violence because they allow them to express their true self. For instance, a friend in China, Chiu, is very aggressive. The boy always plays games with violence themes such as shooting, sword fighting and stealing. This indicates that individuals with a violent personality are more likely to choose video games that have various forms of violence. I think that violent video games lead to development of aggressive behavior in individuals who start playing them at a young age just as Chiu behaves. Chiu together with his friends, have low correlation with patience or enthusiasm, they show tendencies of outgoingness and extraversion. They are outgoing and are ready to stamp their authority at any given chance. According to Kooijman (para 13), violent video games may cause an increase in aggressiveness and arousal in the short-term. However, long-term effects are not clear as research into this area is limited.
I tried to play a violent game, Bad Boys 2, and realized that I was slowly losing my humaneness while gaming. At first, I could feel sad after shooting and killing someone but this feeling started to subside. However, I still came back to myself and overcame not being sympathetic. From this experience, I think that there is a negative correlation between preference for violent video games and empathy. Less empathetic individuals are more likely to choose violent video games as opposed to genres such as strategy but some good people can still play them but remain calm and empathetic.
On the other hand, not all those who play violent video games, such as Grand Theft Auto VI, turn out to demonstrate violence and aggression. For instance I have a friend who is quite soft-spoken but likes to play violent games. This indicates that whereas he appears calm on the outside, he has violent tendencies that violent games help him express comfortably. I think that violence behavior has a lot do with how the gamers personality tolerates or integrates violence in the video game. In fact, such games may have a cathartic effect and help players ease tension.
However, just like Chiu, some individuals show violent tendencies after exposure to violent video games. Often, this occurs when the individuals in question are not able to integrate competition in a healthy manner. According to Przybylski, Rigby and Ryan (5), individuals who are not emotionally stable are more likely to get immersed in violent video games. Immersion occurs when a player feels like he exists in the media environment than the actual environment. This is possible because of the realistic environment in video games and the ability to manipulate the main character (Rahul, 78). Immersive players enjoy seeing their choices impact the game significantly (Craig, Douglas, and Buckley, 54). They love games that give them a variety of choices as characters in their own world. Players who show greater immersion in violent games have a tendency of expressing aggressiveness in the real world. I also believe that in this case, it could be a pointer that these individuals have low mental stability. I think people with high mental stability can play violent video games without adverse behavioral effects. Nonetheless, patient people are less likely to play violence games because they are usually focused on more than the short-term thrill violent games offer.
Additionally, people with an aggressive personality tend to crave dominance over others. Such people prefer games that allow them to prove they are better than others are. In most cases, these people may not have the opportunity to express their dominance in real life because of constraints like rules or codes of ethics. Online multiplayer platforms give dominant people the opportunity to express themselves without any kind of censuring (Aboujaoude 77). The games can be ruled by any one. Dominant players are concerned with their winning or losing ratio. The more they win, the more gratified they become. While the more they lose, the more frustrated they get and may tend to go on until they achieve their desires. I believe my friend Tom is one such person. When playing a video game, such as Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Tom rarely accepts defeat from virtual opponents. Whenever he fails to emerge the best, he gives excuses such as a glitch in the computer or unresponsive controls. In most occasions, he goes on playing the game until he consistently wins; he never stops until he wins three or four consecutive races. Albeit less obvious, he shows this trait in real life. He tries to dominate group projects and enjoys it when we all go with his ideas. This implies that people with an aggressive personality exercise dominance as means of proving they are better than peers.
Unlike aggressive ones, patient people have an innate drive to achieve various forms of gratification. Such individuals are determined, focused, and can spend a large amount of time and effort to realize their objectives. They are active planners and carry out tasks methodically. For example, players can defeat as many zombies as they want in the infinity mode of Plant Vs. Zombie game. However, there is a difference between conscientious players and normal players. When I play this game, I stop after round 7 because I just do not have the patience to go on. However, my friend Jane is a patient player who can persist up to round 43. She can just continue if she does not have a paper due next week. Patient people tend to show preference for games that involve strategy, such as board games, and puzzles. This implies that such people are problem solvers; they enjoy unlocking areas in games or figuring out things in the environment. In fact, Jane is an active problem-solver who takes the least time among us to come up with solutions for challenging situations. On the other hand, impatient people are impulsive and may prefer games that involve less thinking and planning. Such individuals tend to show preference for games like shooting targets. This is as opposed to enthusiastic people who have tendency to choose less violent games, characterized with adventure. Therefore, patient people are driven by a desire to work out problems rather than express themselves.
While patient people are active problem-solvers, enthusiastic people are lively and show eager enjoyment in doing things they enjoy. They are caring, and friendly. A person with this personality is empathetic and shows concern for other peoples welfare. Although enthusiastic and patient people find great pleasure in doing what they do, they are somewhat different in the sense that patient people show extreme persistence and effort while enthusiastic people are lively and show friendliness and care for others.
Enthusiastic people are open to experience and therefore tend to prefer games that offer a wide range of choices. As compared to other genres and sub-genres of video games, adventure games offer this flexibility largely. For instance, I tried the adventure game, The Legend of Zelda, which involves a hero who has to overcome various obstacles to save a princess. One has to plan on what obstacles or enemies to take on and which ones to avoid. The game has puzzles and hidden elements that are thought provoking. Although impulsive players may be able to defeat some enemies, they may not advance further because some enemies are simply invincible and one has to be crafty to avoid them. Such games (adventure) tend to require high levels of patience and control. I think that enthusiastic people have a positive correlation with patience or control, hence are more likely to play adventure video games. Enthusiastic people also tend to be open because of high levels of restraint and control.
Other than exercising patience and control, enthusiastic people tend to be social. They enjoy games that give them the opportunity to connect with other people. Social people are also open to experience. Such people are creative and have a wide range of interests. The Internet has enabled developers to give players more options to interact as they host the games on social media websites, such as Facebook. Games hosted on social media sites have a multiplayer aspect and emphasize on interaction with other players. This ability to connect and/or compete with other players virtually helps create a social atmosphere, beyond the gaming console. For instance, most of my social friends are obsessed with games like Farmville. When I asked what they enjoy in such games, they were all unequivocal that the participation, teamwork, and earning high scores were main motivations.
In contrast, less social people are may not prefer playing games where they have to interact with other players or compete with them. These individuals do not have confidence in themselves and think that peers are better than they are. For this reason, they tend to distance themselves from peers. As a consequence, they tend to avoid games that involve fighting, racing, shooting or any other form of competition. Less social people are more likely to play online games as they give them the opportunity interact with other players without sharing physical presence with them.
To conclude, most people choose video games that match their personality without even realizing it. Video games may reflect an individuals true personality accurately than most other choices. This is because game preference is a conscious choice that is not constrained by moral values or other social constraints. For instance, people with a violent or aggressive personality are more likely to choose games that allow them to express their aggressive nature without any kind of censure. In contrast, patient people are more likely to choose games that involve strategy. Social people are more likely to choose games that allow them to interact with peers while dominant people choose competitive games where they can assert themselves by winning. Psychologists hypothesize that other than reflecting personality, games may also influence it. However, limited research has been done in this area to give conclusive evidence.
Aboujaoude, Elias. Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality. New York: W. W. Norton, 2011. Print
Craig, Anderson, Douglas, Gentile and Buckley, Katherine. Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research and Public Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print
Kooijman, Thomas. Effects of Video Games on Aggressive Thoughts and Behaviors During Development. Personality Papers. Web. 2004. Accessed 30 Jan, 2014 at
Massey, Rahul. The Link Between Video Games and Violence. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2009. Print
Photobucket. Plants vs Zombies. Accessed Feb 3, 2014 at
Przybylski, A. K., Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. “A Motivational Model of Video Game Engagement.” Review of General Psychology, 2010. 14(2), 154- 166. Print