Studies show racing games promote risky driving

Two separate studies, one in Germany and the other in the United Kingdom, have concluded that playing racing video games promotes risky driving behavior, particularly among men.

A research paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology by the Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Allianz Center for Technology in Germany found a correlation between playing racing games and more risky driving habits through three different methods.

In the first test subjects were asked to rate both their gaming and real world habits on a scale of 0-10 agreeing or disagreeing with statements such as "I mostly respect speed limits". In this there was a correlation between risky driving behavior and gaming habits, but on its own this would not be conclusive.

In the second test 83 volunteers were divided up between those playing racing games such as Burnout, Midnight Racer and Need for Speed; and those playing neutral games like FIFA 2005, Tak and Crash Bandicoot. Again a correlation was found between playing the racing games and risky behavior, versus playing the neutral games where there was no major increase in risky driving behavior.

In the third test players were given the Vienna Test, which is used to evaluate risk-taking behavior, after playing either racing games or neutral games; with Medal of Honor substituting for Crash Bandicoot as MoH requires some aggression. Once again a correlation was found between risky driving and playing racing games.

In the study in the United Kingdom similar conclusions were reached, with 27% of under 24's admitting to more dangerous driving after gaming, though 34% of young drivers also believed that playing racing video games improves their driving skills.

The results of these studies could have wide implications as the insurance industry takes more of an interest in the correlation between road accidents and video gaming. The German study was underwritten by Allianz, one of the largest motor insurance companies in the world.