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Study: Gamers Less Aggressive with Friends

There's a study now claiming that gamers are actually less aggressive towards their friends in a multiplayer environment. Published by the science journal Evolution and Human Behavior, the study suggests that males who play "violent" multiplayer games are far more aggressive with strangers. For gamers who love to frag online, that's really a no-brainer: it seems to be the norm to curse at strangers camping around a super weapon's spawn point (and you know who you are) while remaining civil and somewhat playful in nature with clan members or good friends.

To verify the common knowledge, evolutionary psychologists at the University of Missouri (seemingly) wasted time and money by involving 42 "young men" in a testosterone test using using Epic's classic FPS, Unreal Tournament 2004. The test subjects weren't forced into separate rooms and given various magazines, but were divided into 14 teams of 3 each. The testosterone and cortisol levels were tested before competing against friends (within-group) in rounds of deathmatch, and then after the matches were over. The groups were then tested before and after games played with strangers.

So why are "young males" playing these games in the first place? It's a man juice thing apparently. "We suggest that violent video games appeal to young men because the games tap their evolved motivation to engage in male–male competition and engage the same systems that evolved to allow them to engage in military and political strategizing," the study reports. "The corresponding hypothesis--men will show the testosterone winner effect found with meaningful male–male competition--was partially supported for the between-group tournaments."

For some players, including this one, playing Unreal Tournament 2004 or some other deathmatch game doesn't necessarily mean that they're looking to show some testosterone domination. Games such as UT2K4 can be a stress reliever, a way to rid the tensions and aggravations of the day. What better way is there than to unload a round of rockets on an annoying camper? Honestly, the evolutionary psychologists could have saved time and money by just throwing up a poll on Facebook.