Killing characters in video games kills memory for in-game ads.

Robert B. Lull, Bryan Gibson, Carlos Cruz, Brad J. Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evolutionary theory predicts that people attend to emotionally arousing cues at the expense of less arousing cues. Violence is one emotionally arousing cue that attracts attention away from less arousing cues located in the same visual environment. Previous research has shown that violent media content attracts attention at the expense of brands advertised during violent media content. We predicted that participants who played a video game violently would recall and recognize fewer brands than participants who played the same game nonviolently. In Study 1, participants (N = 154) drove cars in the game The Getaway while real brands appeared within the city. Half of the participants played the game violently (running over characters) and half of the participants played the game nonviolently (carefully avoiding characters). Violent players recalled and recognized fewer brands than did nonviolent players. In Study 2, participants (N = 102) drove cars in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas while fictitious brands were advertised on their vehicles. Half of the participants played the game violently (running over characters) and half of the participants played the game nonviolently (carefully avoiding characters). Violent players were less likely to recognize advertised brands than were nonviolent players. Not enough participants recalled brands to test whether violent players recalled fewer brands than did nonviolent players. These results across both studies suggest that within-game violence reduces the effectiveness of product placement, such that brands advertised in violent video games are less likely to be remembered than brands advertised in nonviolent video games.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Popular Media Culture
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • brand memory
  • product placement
  • video game advertising
  • violent video games

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