Gamers Get Their Kicks From Dying
I can't even count the number of ways I've died. Like most gamers, I've been slaughtered by AK-47-wielding terrorists, poisoned by eldritch spiders and blown up with alien frag grenades. I've also been impaled on medieval swords, ripped limb from limb by dinosaurs and impassively stomped by 20-story-tall, walking war machines that barely noticed my existence.
Yet here's the thing: It's possible that these deaths have been among my most enjoyable game experiences.
This is the fascinating argument of a new paper by Niklas Ravaja, a scientist who has done pioneering research into the emotions of gamers as they play. In "The Psychophysiology of James Bond: Phasic Emotional Responses to Violent Video Game Events" -- published in this month's edition of the journal Emotion -- Ravaja reaches an amazingly counterintuitive conclusion: Gamers don't like shooting their opponents, but they're suffused with pleasure when they themselves are shot dead.
"It was," he tells me when I call him up, "quite a surprise."
Does this mean the reason we suck at CS is because we like it? Not really, but it does indicate is that the "annoyance" of dying may be less than the relief of the stress you may be feeling at the time. At least, that's what this seems to indicate.