Will Violent Content in an Active Video Game Make You Move More Vigorously?

Wei Peng, Karin Pfeiffer and Brian Winn


The newest trends in video games are active video games or "exergames", which have the potential to convert the traditional "couch-potato" activity into non-sedentary activities. With the expanded genres of active video games, one inevitably raises the question of whether it is worthwhile to use active video games to promote physical activity if games involve violent themes, such as fighting and killing, which may have detrimental effects on players' aggression. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to explore the effects of different levels of violence in an active video game on a) state hostility, b) perceived arousal, c) game enjoyment, d) perceived effort in game, and e) activity intensity in game. In a one-factor between-subjects experiment with three conditions (low, moderate, and high violence) of playing an active video game, we did not find that the levels of violence have any effect on the outcome variables, although the moderate violence game resulted in a greater feeling of meanness among the players immediately after gameplay than the low violence game (p = .007) and the high violence game (p = .04).