Gamers, whether they’re young or old, have often been stereo-typically classified as a form of zombie who stares at a screen and plays games all day, sometimes from the cozy confines of his or her parent’s basement.
But that’s not the reality for most modern-day, college gamers: these are young adults enrolled in school who simply enjoy the characters, action, and story-line behind the game, and because this group is so in tune with what they’re playing, they were the perfect focus group for a study that could predict whether or not they may be arrested for DUI in the future.
It sounds strange to place warnings about the dangers of drunk driving in a virtual world, but that’s exactly what researchers did in a three-part study. It focused on almost 400 college-age gamers playing a game, and researchers inserted anti-drunk driving messages from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the background of situations where the gamer would be engaged in shooting, driving, or other tasks. Their theory was that if they timed the placements at moments when the participant was completely engaged, there was a higher likelihood that they would accept the messages as the truth.
Some of the messages said, “I’m just buzzed” while showing a crash scene, while others said “Don’t drink and drive” and the poster had bullet holes all over it.
What they found after the study was that the participants who played and saw the PSAs, both male and female, said they had were much less willing to drink and drive in the future. That means they are much less likely to be arrested for DUI outside of the virtual world, and even on such a small scale, that’s good news.
The study was so successful that it’s getting attention from a branch of the Federal Government for possible use as a strategy to reduce smoking and e-cigarette use. One group just received an almost $400,000 grant to test for themselves how these graphics will work to reduce smoking rates, so the sky is the limit as to how they could implement a program like this for drunk driving.
Will video games be the path to stopping this generation from being arrested for DUI? It’s hard to tell from one study, but if these gamers are any indication, this might be one of the path ways to sober drivers in the future.