The Enjoyment of Shooting Games: Exploring the Role of Perceived Realism
Author(s)Daneels, Rowan; U0110723; ; ; ; ;
Malliet, Steven; U0026428; ; ; ; ;
Koeman, Joyce; U0048325; ; ; ; ;
Ribbens, Wannes; ; ; ; ; ;
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AbstractUnderstanding the enjoyment of (violent) digital games is a complicated topic, with various social and psychological processes at its foundation. A recurrent theme throughout various conceptualizations is that players experience more enjoyment when they feel more present in the virtual world, for instance through high audiovisual quality or through similarities with the real world. Recently, studies from a moral psychology perspective have suggested a reverse argumentation: increased realism limits game enjoyment, as it becomes more difficult to remove moral objections towards in-game violence when it is perceived as ‘more real’. This study explores how a multidimensional conceptualization of perceived game realism can reconcile these seemingly contradictory perspectives. Based on Ribbens et al. (2016) we distinguish six dimensions of perceived game realism: simulation realism, freedom of choice, social realism, character involvement, audiovisual pervasiveness, and authenticity. In relation to the theoretical perspectives above, we hypothesize that: ‘Perceptual pervasiveness’ and ‘freedom of choice’ will positively relate to enjoyment of virtual violence (H1 & H2), whereas ‘social realism’ will negatively relate to enjoyment of virtual violence (H3). Furthermore, we question whether the dimensions of character involvement, simulational realism, and authenticity will relate positively or negatively to enjoyment of virtual violence. With data gathered among 240 players in an online survey, analyzed through stepwise regression, perceptual pervasiveness and authenticity are positively and significantly related to game enjoyment, while the other four dimensions were not. This study clarifies a number of aspects on a theoretical level, and contributes towards the integration of fragmented results produced by research on the enjoyment of virtual violence. Based on this study we advocate to further investigate the multidimensional approach of perceived realism.
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