Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grand Theft Troll? Anonymity encourages bad behaviour in online computer games, but group discipline wins the day

Date:
January 9, 2014
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
Flaming. Trolling. Griefing. Cheating. Most players of massive multi-player online games, such as GTA Online, have been victims of activities like these. New research investigates the drivers and group dynamics of these kind of behaviors.

Flaming. Trolling. Griefing. Cheating. Most players of massive multi-player online games, such as GTA Online, have been victims of activities like these. New research from the journal Behaviour & Information Technology investigates the drivers and group dynamics of these kind of behaviours.

Related Articles


A study of the habits of people who play 'massive multi-player online games' (MMOGs) shows that anonymous users are more likely to cheat, but their behaviour is significantly tempered by the culture and dynamics of the group of players, suggesting that other forms of online 'bad behaviour' -- such as flaming and trolling -- can be modified by the attitudes and behaviours of other group members.

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, investigated the gaming habits of over 900 teenagers (13-18s) and found that the frequency of gaming with online strangers (anonymous gaming) significantly predicts the frequency of cheating. They also observed significant gender differences:

  • male gamers cheated more frequently than female gamers;
  • female gamers are more likely to cheat as a consequence of group identification than male gamers.

More significantly, however, the researchers conclude that: "… deviant behaviors online, such as game cheating, are largely influenced by the online social groups people feel they belong to. An online group, despite its fluid, unstable and imaginary nature, is powerful in constructing and changing its members' attitudes and views on behaviours. Hence, a behaviour that is perceived as problematic and deviant can be reconstructed with a different interpretation."

The study by Vivian Hsueh-Hua Chen and Yuehua Wu, published in the current issue of the journal Behaviour & Information Technology, is the first of its kind to deliver empirical evidence that the sociological phenomenon known as SIDE (Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects) has a role in online behaviour.

The SIDE theory, first put forward by Reicher et al in 1995, argues that anonymity does not necessarily lead to the loss of self-awareness or weakened internalized behaviour controls, as had previously been thought. Instead, anonymity increases the importance of social/group identity, and hence leads to greater conformity within a group. In other words, when people play games under anonymous conditions, they are more likely to follow the behaviours they believe other players are exhibiting.

While this study has important lessons for those who are concerned about bad behaviour elsewhere in cyberspace (in chatrooms and public social networking spaces, for instance), its findings are also of considerable importance for the companies that develop MMOGs and other social games, because persistent cheating and other bad behaviour among players of MMOGs can result in financial losses -- in terms of both loss of subscribers and loss of company reputation.

Chen and Wu's findings are the result of a 2009 survey of online gaming behaviours among 941 teenagers (mean age 16) who reported playing MMOGs for, on average, 14 hours per week. They also conducted six follow-up focus group sessions among participants who were experienced gamers and very familiar with game cheating. Their data were subjected to rigorous statistical analysis, and the published report also makes detailed reference to an extensive review of literature on the topic.

In addition to the headline findings, the authors note that academics who are interested in studying deviant or anti-social behaviours may find that online video gaming is a good testing ground for their theories, because:

  • the online gaming community is easily accessible and highly dynamic;
  • participants can be observed continuously without intrusion; and
  • gamers are typically willing to report and explain their behaviours in video games they play, especially if the researcher(s) are part of the gaming community.

However, they also note that their findings are based on a self-reporting survey, and it is possible that some over-reporting of cheating may have occurred because cheating is highly regarded in some gaming circles.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Taylor & Francis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vivian Hsueh Hua Chen, Yuehua Wu. Group identification as a mediator of the effect of players’ anonymity on cheating in online games. Behaviour & Information Technology, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2013.843721

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "Grand Theft Troll? Anonymity encourages bad behaviour in online computer games, but group discipline wins the day." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109003913.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2014, January 9). Grand Theft Troll? Anonymity encourages bad behaviour in online computer games, but group discipline wins the day. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109003913.htm
Taylor & Francis. "Grand Theft Troll? Anonymity encourages bad behaviour in online computer games, but group discipline wins the day." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109003913.htm (accessed April 20, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Monday, April 20, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Humanoid Robot Can Recognise and Interact With People

Humanoid Robot Can Recognise and Interact With People

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 20, 2015) An ultra-realistic humanoid robot called &apos;Han&apos; recognises and interprets people&apos;s facial expressions and can even hold simple conversations. Developers Hanson Robotics hope androids like Han could have uses in hospitality and health care industries where face-to-face communication is vital. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drones and Health Apps at Santiago's "Robotics Day"

Drones and Health Apps at Santiago's "Robotics Day"

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Latin American robotics experts gather in Santiago, Chile for "Robotics Day". Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japan Humanoid Robot Receives Customers at Department Store

Japan Humanoid Robot Receives Customers at Department Store

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) She can smile, she can sing and she can give you guidance at one of the most upscale department stores in Tokyo...a female-looking humanoid makes her debut as a receptionist Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pending Comcast-Time Warner Merger Has DOJ, FCC Concerned

Pending Comcast-Time Warner Merger Has DOJ, FCC Concerned

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) The Department of Justice reportedly has concerns a Time Warner-Comcast merger would create an entity too large in the cable and broadband markets. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins