Playing Race Video Games Make Car Drivers Go Recklessly

I saw a recently a study that reported “those who play a lot of race video games – games where you drive fast – will also drive fast in real life”. The study explained that a great amount of those reckless drivers were also heavy consumers of video games.

That’s sounds pretty logical, but there’s a tiny problem…

You can draw a different conclusion from the study. Like… instead of saying “race video games make people drive fast” you could say “those who drive fast will start playing lots of racing video games”. In this new conclusion it’s the habit of fast driving that leads these people to play games (or the fact that these people simply like driving fast, and also like to play games where you drive fast).

This is good example where researches draw conclusions too fast. I must point out that my conclusion is not necessarily right. I’m simply saying that based on the data they showed, I could draw a different conclusion.

Believing some research only by seeing it in the news is not necessarily such a good idea.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Of course, it could just be that some people simply like driving fast — regardless of whether it is in real life or a video game.

  2. I work as an acadim teacher and have to do some research work – though I am going to quit that job because of articles like this one that are written by “scientist” just to write something to get some “science points” so they won’t be fired.

  3. I gotta admit that Gran Turismo 3 DID influence me to get a Subaru Impreza and then modify it. I also go pretty fast (when it’s safe to) and try to find the best line etc

  4. Mh, sounds a lot like a German study. Sorry for our country. Videogames have some hard times these days. Some of our politicians use this hype to promote themself. Ignoring the facts.

    Don’t count on these studies. Just ignore them. The problems are much deeper, not on the people-who-like-to-play-videogames level.

  5. I think that this is just the simple case of misinterpreting the simultaneous occurrence of two phenomena as a causality. I don’t know if the error was an accident or a conscious decision or if it was made by the reporter or the researchers. Anyway, pretty awful research reporting. There’s been so much of this kind of “the effects of playing videogames” research lately that I’ve learned to take it with a grain (large sack?) of salt. Instead of these statistical survey kinds of studies I’d like to see more in depth studies of the relationship between players and games and the interactions between them. There’s actually these kinds of studies made too, but somehow these (sometimes even politically motivated) hyped-up surface-level studies seem to get the limelight with bold but not-so-well backed up claims.

  6. There is another theory that says that playing video games has a cathartic effect with regards to the actions/emotions being simulated.

    Eg – when playing an aggressive game of football in real life, you are less likely to be aggressive afterwards as you’ve theoretically purged the emotion (the desire to be aggressive) from your system.

    In this same way, some researchers believe that those who play violent video games (with guns, murder etc) are actually less likely to physically engage in activities of that nature, for example, be involved in gun related crimes. No doubt this also applies to driving games.

  7. I could swear that i had an enhanced feeling for driving bends after some long Gran Turismo session. The physics are pretty realistic.

  8. Statistics are the superstition of the modern world.

    Not that it doesn’t make them valuable (just as many superstitious beliefs of the past had a grounding in fact). But all human beings feel a need to control the uncontrollable, and having statistics to help them predict (and thereby, maybe, prevent) the horrible makes them sleep better at night.

    All that being said… back around 1989 or so I remember finding myself driving a little too fast immediately after playing the arcade game “Hard Driving” by Atari. It passed quickly, but I did find that the brain needed to do a context switch, either over time or by a conscious effort. So I believe there’s something to the study.

    But it’s still pretty meaningless. It’s like saying, “Holy cow, you tend to be more aggressive right after watching a live basketball game!” Well, DUH. This is news HOW? And what are we supposed to do about it? Put everyone in padded cells with purely neutral stimuli?

  9. Any time I see a study published that correlates behaviors with activities, I’m skeptical. I usually prefer to sum these attempts to pigeon-hole people based on their likes with the well-known saying popularized by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

    I tend to disregard these types of studies – people are too complex to predict just by their likes, dislikes, and activities. Case in point: growing up I played D&D, listened to heavy metal music, had a strained relationship with my father, was ostracized by my siblings, and was raised in a very pro-gun environment. By all acounts, according to most studies of this nature, I should be the epitome of a serial killer.

    However, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I’m a well adjusted member of society who is respected in my community. Am I the exception to the rule? Doubtful.


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