A Need for Speed: Racing Games and Driving Fast

There are plenty of people out there who suggest that playing violent video games leads to real-life violence on our streets. Of course, there have been plenty of studies which directly disprove this. In fact, for the ultimate proof, simply look out of your window. The military shooter franchise Call of Duty has sold literally millions of video games, so by that logic, millions teens should now be engaged in violent warfare in the suburbs.


However, can the same be said for racing games, where speed is a premium virtue? Racing games are, of course, another form of power fantasy, with video game players encouraged to go flat out, make dangerous manoeuvres, and do whatever it takes to win. At a time when hit and run accidents hit the headlines each and every day, it’s certainly worth looking a little closer at whether or not there’s a link between playing racing games and reckless driving. And researchers in America certainly agree.


Back in 2012, Hull and Draghici published their study into the link, called ‘A Longitudinal Study of Risk-Glorifying Video Games and Reckless Driving.’ While the study is careful to note that there appears to be an association, as opposed to a direct link between cause and effect, it still makes for interesting reading given the number of car accidents we see each year.


The study took a colossal three-and-a-half years to complete, with 6,522 adolescents, aged between 10 and 14, questioned every eight months about a range of topics. So far, so standard, you might think. However, the crucial stages of these interviews happened during the third and fifth rounds. In stage three, respondents were asked about their video gaming habits. Specifically, they were asked whether or not they played the games Spider-man II, Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto III.


16 months later, in the fifth round of questions, participants were queried over whether or not they felt comfortable drinking and driving, as well as how many times police pulled them over while behind the wheel.


Here, the doctoral psychology students cross-referenced the answers from the third and fifth stages of questioning. The results were, frankly, astounding. While those who only played Spider-man II showed no negative effects, GTA and Manhunt gamers did reveal that they tailgate other drivers, speed, weave and cross double yellow lines far more than most. For instance, participants who claimed to have played the brutal survival horror, Manhunt, were twice as likely to cross over double yellow lines when in the car.


And players of Grand Theft Auto III were even worse when it comes to risk-taking behind the wheel. Not only were they precisely 1.7 times more likely to get pulled over by the police, they were also twice as likely to admit to tailgating.


Of course, it always begs the question: does someone drive fast because they like to play racing games, or do they play racing games because they enjoying driving fast.


While it’s not a comprehensive, irrefutable and conclusive report – for starters, the study relies on absolute honesty from those questioned – it should certainly open a few eyes. At a time when video games are fast becoming the ultimate medium (the average age of a gamer is now 34 years old) and reckless driving can seem worryingly high, Hull and Draghici’s study begs for further research into the topic.


While all of this might lead to preventative measures in the future, it’s of scant comfort to those who’ve already suffered in a hit and run accident. If you, or somebody you know, have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, then you could be eligible for compensation through the Motor Insurers Bureau. Government-regulated MIB claims can deliver compensation when you’re hit by an uninsured driver. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 0443 495 and our dedicated team will be happy to assist with all of your enquiries.