Heroic gaming could make us more heroic, say researchers

"Splinter Cell Blacklist." (HO)

Thane Burnett, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:12 PM ET

Makers of a popular video game franchise have reportedly taken out an element in their latest one where you twist the knife into a prisoner.

The move comes after creators of the upcoming Splinter Cell: Blacklist were criticized by gamers and industry designers.

It's another example of concern over virtual aggression being carried into the real world.

But what if you're given a simple simulated heroic ability -- without the violence?

Scientists at Stanford recently gave the ability of flight to subjects through the university's virtual reality.

They tossed out X-ray vision (too creepy) and the ability to breathe underwater (not superhero enough).

"Our study was an initial examination of whether embodying an enhanced ability -- the power of flight -- could affect subsequent behaviour in a positive way," researcher Robin Rosenberg tells QMI Agency. "Based on our results, it appears that it can."

In the scenario, users had to get insulin to a stranded diabetic child.

In all, 60 subjects went through the simulation. But some flew like Superman while some rode in a virtual helicopter.

When the exercise was over, during a debriefing, an interviewer knocked over a container of pens. The researchers found those who played the part of Superman were more likely than those who sat in the helicopter, to help pick up the pens.

It's easy to design violent games that may increase a person's aggressive streak, says the researchers.

But they ask, what if we could design games to boost helping others?

 


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