Allianz research shows computer car racing gamers are more risky drivers
27 March, 2007
“New research suggests that the playing of computer racing games increases thoughts and emotions that are positively related to risk taking, leads to enhanced arousal and excitement and increases risk-taking behaviour in critical road traffic situations,” said Nicholas Scofield, General Manager Corporate Affairs at Allianz Australia Insurance.
The findings stem from research undertaken by the Allianz Centre for Technology and Ludwig-Maximilians University (Munich Germany)1.
In the last decade or more, the playing of video console and PC games has become very popular among young people. For gamers, the average daily time spent playing these games often exceeds the time spent watching films and TV.
Most actions in racing games imply a high risk of having an accident or severe crash in a highly realistic virtual road traffic environment. Driving actions in these games often include competitive and reckless driving, speeding and crashing into other cars or pedestrians, or performing risky stunts with the vehicle.
Media violence research has found that aggressive video games increase aggression and aggressive behaviour. The Allianz research sought to determine whether a similar detrimental relationship exists between playing risk-orientated video racing games and risky driving behaviour.
The Allianz research was based on three related studies:
“The first study indicated that the playing of racing games is associated with increased obtrusive and competitive road traffic behaviour (eg street racing and impressing others), reduced cautious road traffic behaviour, and a higher number of reported accidents among study participants,” said Mr Scofield. “Interestingly, these associations were more pronounced in men than women,” he said.
“The second study showed that the players of racing games experienced greater risk-promoting thoughts and emotions (eg, aggression) and stronger arousal and excitement compared to the players of neutral games,” according to Mr Scofield. “In this respect, there was no difference between men and women,” he said.
The third study measured the willingness to take risks in road traffic. “It found that men took more risks in critical road traffic situations when they had played a racing game prior to driving,” said Mr Scofield. “In contrast, women’s level of risk taking was not affected by the playing of racing games,” he said.
Mr Scofield said that the results of the study undertaken by Allianz and Munich University are of great interest and concern to insurers.
“Young drivers, particularly young men, are already recognised as having a greater tendency to engage in risky driving behaviour such as speeding, and are at a higher risk of being involved in traffic accidents, ” he said.
“It is a concern if the popularity of computer racing games, particularly among young men, may be exacerbating this problem by increasing risk-taking behaviours among male drivers.”
Allianz Australia is proud to be of service to over 2 million policyholders and over 50 percent of Australia’s Top 50 BRW listed companies have some form of insurance cover with the organisation. The company is a member of the global Allianz Group, which operates in over 70 countries and serves over 60 million customers.
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Nicholas Scofield, (02) 9390 6596 or 0416 088 414, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jorg Kubitski (Allianz Centre for Technology), Peter Fischer, Stephanie Guter and Dieter Frey (Ludwig-Maximilians University), “Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect and Behaviours?” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 2007, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 22-31.