Video games can affect social attitudes
Video games can even shed light on empathy and feelings toward other groups. Peña has studied how perspective affects these feelings.
In a recent study, he studied how video games influence people’s willingness to help immigrants. Using a game known as an empathy simulator called “Papers, Please,” participants played as an immigration officer in a totalitarian regime. Peña measured participants ’opinions about immigrants at the baseline, randomly assigned them to“ Papers, Please ”or a similar game in which the protagonist is a newspaper editor, and measured their opinions about immigrants. immigrants after playing the game.
He found that participants who played as immigration agents reviewing the roles of immigrants were less willing to help immigrants the more they played. Due to the perspective the players had during the game, their social attitudes and empathy towards the situation of the immigrants were reduced compared to a control group.
In another study, Peña explored how interactions in virtual reality can lessen prejudices against Latinos. The more participants in virtual reality use similar language and mimic the communication style of a Latin character, the lower their stereotypes against that character.
“I’m excited about the idea of providing a space for people to find common ground and communicate and take advantage of this opportunity,” Peña said.
The characteristics of the avatar can influence the behavior of the players
Peña has discovered that video game avatars can affect our physical activity. “If you have a health-related game in which you try to get people to eat healthier or exercise more, they identify more with a video game character,” Peña said.