Competition in the World: Translating Simulation to Reality

In Griffiths et al.’s research paper “Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition”, an experiment was run on video game players to see compare and contrast different aspects of video games and the effects they have on their players. There were three conditions total being looked at, first being the saliency of the match (were the students from Ohio State University playing a simulated football game against a main rival, a conference rival, or an “other” opponent). The second condition was team identification (did the players positively or negatively identify with the team they were playing with and what were the effects) and the third condition was competitive outcome (How did the players react to winning or losing?). The point of the research was observing how these three factors interact to predict affect, or more specifically, enjoyment or hostility. What was found was as expected: competition was significantly related to hostility and enjoyment. To add on to these results, losing the led to more hostility, while player performance was related directly to enjoyment. Finally, it was found that the combination of identification and competition outcome had significant effects. When playing as a team with relevance, and losing, there is greater state hostility than when playing as an irrelevant team.


Also who the opponent is also matters, when losing to an opponent with more salience, it actually creates a greater reaction of hostility than enjoyment from beating a salient opponent. It was noted that this finding could be due to history of rivalry between the competition (I.e., Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry).
The last finding is what I found to be of particular importance for generalizing findings from a video game, to the real world. From my perspective, the only thing I could think about through this entire article was politics. Specifically the American political race of Democrats against Republicans, but also Canadians with Liberal against Conservative. It seems that competition between the Democrats and Republicans grow more and more exaggerated each and every year… Why might that be? For one there is a major issue with identification in the States. For the most part, citizens identify as Democratic or Republican and that’s it. It doesn’t matter who the leader of their party is for the presidential campaign is, whichever party one identifies with, that’s who they vote for, in part due to their views aligning more with that candidate, and in part because they don’t want the opposing party in power. Relatively speaking, there are very few citizens, who are undecided between candidates or parties. Yet, those who are undecided, debatably have the most influence of anybody as they represent the swing votes.


With this connection in mind, think about how fierce and competitive any discussion between an identified democrat and identified republican can get. Typically, it creates a great amount of discussion and hostility towards one another. While nobody wins from these arguments, there is a winner and loser in presidential elections. Republicans and Democrats celebrate similarly when their party wins, but become hostile or demonstrate affects that are much more negative than the positivity shown. “Young adults psychological and physiological reactions to the 2016 U.S. presidential election” (Hoyt et al., 2018) shows supporting evidence that affect both in mood as well as physiological response decreased significantly the night Trump was elected. This reaction is similar to how the affect and hostility increased of players with an identified team, lost to a rival team.


While the post by @suchivrb on the same experiment does have some validity with their statement regarding redundancy, I don’t believe it was as redundant as they make it out to be. Yes winning increases happiness, while losing increases hostility, that is used as a great foundation for the rest of this study to build on. Finding what other factors influence hostility such as identification of teams or players played with and against can be vital in understanding the nuances of competition. Furthermore, I disagree with their statement regarding the appropriateness of using a sports game for this experiment. There are very few genres of video games featuring direct competition that are more relatable than sports games. I would venture to guess more people than not have played at least one sport in their life, therefore, to some degree, it is relatable. Other video games genres featuring direct competition would be something like shooter games or combat games, which most likely has a smaller population of those in university with real life experience of either of those. The study may have been repetitive in many facets, but between the findings that I believe are relevant to the population, and the ability to relate to this experiment for the greater population, the study was nothing short of a success.

Hoyt, L. T., Zeiders, K. H., Chaku, N., Toomey, R. B., & Nair, R. L. (2018). Young adults’ psychological and physiological reactions to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 92, 162-169. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.03.011

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