It looks like science has given us yet another reason to be careful with the amount of time we spend playing video games. Our favorite form of entertainment has again been linked to negative behavior, this time the promotion of racial stereotypes. A recent study shows evidence that the race of a video game avatar can have some serious implications for white game players. Not only did it significantly alter the way they acted and thought, but it also affected their attitudes towards other black individuals. This is likely to cause some controversy regarding racial ethics in video games.

The study was conducted at Ohio State University and involved two groups of white participants. The participants were randomly selected to play a violent video game as either a black or a white avatar. After playing the game, they were then tested for their attitudes, thoughts and associations towards black individuals. Results showed that participants who played the games as a black avatar were overwhelmingly more likely to associate blacks with weapons, more likely to act aggressively after playing the games, and more likely to have stronger negative attitudes towards black people.  “Playing a violent video game as a black character reinforces harmful stereotypes that blacks are violent,” Brad Bushman, co-author of the study explained.

Video games have had a history of associated with negative behavior. Past studies have verified that video games were more like to cause violent and anti-social activity in individuals. However this study is the first of its kind to link the race of a video game avatar to later aggression in video games.  Bushman does not believe that video games are solely to blame for the unpleasant trend. Inside he believes that a combination of social factors contribute to the negative association with blacks. "This violent stereotype may be more prevalent in video games than in any other form of media because being a black character in a video game is almost synonymous with being a violent character," Bushman explained in a recent press release.

It is the hope of the study to identify and change America’s association with black culture and violence. Through understanding how these associations are formed, society will be able to work towards the prevention of racist attitudes.

Source: Grace S. Yang,Bryan Gibson, Adam K. Lueke, L. Rowell Huesmann, Brad J. Bushman. Effects of Avatar Race in Violent Video Games on Racial Attitudes and Aggression. Social Psychological &Personality Science. 2014

T Greitemeyer, D Mugge. Video Games So Affect Social Outcomes: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Effects opf Violent and Prosocial Video Game Play. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2013