People try new characteristics in video games

Video games are popular among users because they offer them the opportunity to 'try on' characteristics they would like to possess themselves. This is the finding of new research to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

According to the study, gaming gives individuals a chance to act in different ways than they would in real life - which could mean them behaving in a manner they believe to be the traits of their ideal selves.

Dr Andy Przybylski, a visiting research fellow at the University of Essex  said playing computer titles "gives people the chance to think about a role they would ideally like to take and then get a chance to play that role".

He added taking on a new persona - whether it be a hero, villain or even a member of the opposite sex - can serve to make individuals feel less negative and look on themselves more favourably.

Professor Mark Griffiths, Director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, said that the new study confirmed a number of similar studies in the field including his own. Professor Griffiths noted: "Our own research over the last decade has consistently reported that players often use games and online gaming environments as a way of expressing different facets of their character or personality in ways that would be harder to do outside of the game. 

"The great thing about gaming is that players can change their gender, age, ethnicity and - in some cases - their species. Video games allow people to do this in ways that feel very safe for the gamer."