It's the challenge, not the craving for bloodshed, that keeps players addicted to war and conflict video games, says a new study.
The research by investigators at the University of Rochester and Immersyve Inc., a player-experience research firm, has asserted that violence does not make video games more enjoyable.
The study found that for many people, gore actually detracts from a game's "fun factor," and in turn decreases players' interest and desire to purchase a game.
Thus, the authors asked developers that while designing the next generation of video games they should keep in mind that - blood does not help the bottom line.
"For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was not a plus. Violent content was only preferred by a small subgroup of people that generally report being more aggressive," explained Andrew Przybylski, a University graduate student and lead author of the study.
However, he said that even these hostile players did not report increased pleasure when playing more gruesome games.
For the study the researchers conducted two online surveys involving 2,670 frequent video game players and four experimental studies with more than 300 undergraduates
The researchers showed that people stayed glued to games mainly for the feelings of challenge and autonomy they experience while playing.
Both seasoned video gamers and novices preferred games where they could conquer obstacles, feel effective, and have lots of choices about their strategies and actions.
Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University said that these elements represent "the core reasons that people find games so entertaining and compelling. Conflict and war are a common and powerful context for providing these experiences, but it is the need satisfaction in the gameplay that matters more than the violent content itself."
Scott Rigby, president of Immersyve and a co-investigator in the study, said the findings should be of practical help to the game development industry.
He said: "Much of the debate about game violence has pitted the assumed commercial value of violence against social concern about the harm it may cause. Our study shows that the violence may not be the real value component, freeing developers to design away from violence while at the same time broadening their market."
The researchers observed that added violent content didn't do much and in some cases detracted from the enjoyment reported by players.
Violent content was preferred, though not enjoyed more, by a small subgroup of people who scored high in aggression traits.
The authors concluded: "Video games are enjoyable, immersive, and motivating insofar as they offer opportunities for psychological need satisfaction, specifically experiences of competence and autonomy, to which violent content per se is largely unrelated."
The study was published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.