A new study has revealed that real-life choices are heavily influenced by the messages people imbibe from popular video games like World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero or Mario Kart.
Paul Fletcher, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, UK, who led the study, said that as video games become more immersive and realistic, all involved ought to realise the potential.
"I don't think this is evidence that video games are bad. We just need to be aware that associations formed within the game transfer to the real world - for good or bad," New Scientist quoted Fletcher, a former gamer, as saying.
Earlier it has been shown that video games and virtual reality can sway our emotions, help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and even trigger the same biological pathways as food and cocaine.
But Fletcher noted that till date, no one has shown that video games can train the kind of conditioned responses that underlie much of our behaviour.
Thus, he, along with colleagues recruited 22 volunteer subjects and found that volunteers who played a simple cycling game learned to favour one team's jersey and avoid another's.
And days later, most subjects subconsciously avoided the same jersey in a real-world test.
"Our research suggests whatever you've learned in the computer game does have an effect on how you behave toward the stimulus in the real world," said Fletcher.
He added: "The goal of games manufacturers is to immerse their customers as deeply as possible within the game. Of course, that can be for good or bad."
They also found that while violent games could have players more likely to lash out at specific people, associations learned in video games could be educational.
The study has been published in Journal of Neuroscience.