Football video gamers reach fever pitch

Playing football video games induces stronger emotional and physical responses than playing violent video games.

This is the finding of Dr Simon Goodson and Sarah Pearson from the University of Huddersfield, who presented their research at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Glasgow.

The study examined whether events that cause emotional responses in reality also produce similar responses when played in video games (called the 'real life stressor' hypothesis). A football game was chosen as it is well known for causing strong emotions and sometimes violence in fans.

40 participants (men and women) were randomly allocated to play either an Xbox360 violent video game or a football game. Measurements were taken of heart rate (ECG), respiration and brain activity (EEG), both before and during gameplay.

When the results of measurements were cross referenced with game play, analyses showed that killing someone caused little brain activity but conceding a goal or a foul caused high levels of activity.

Dr Goodson said: "There is much concern over the effects of violent video games and how these contribute to general aggression."

"However, this research indicates that 'killing' someone is not as 'real' as playing a sport and the brain recognises this and doesn't react in the same way. As participants reacted with more agitation during the football game, it seems that the effects of violent video games have been misrepresented in the past."