MIGG research poster













Moral Implications of Games Group


Video games and other playful virtual environments commonly portray characters (also addressed as agents or avatars). The research group examines how users perceive these characters and treat them as moral entities. The group focuses on violent video games, like ego-shooters (also called first-person shooters).


It may be argued that the characters presented in contemporary ego-shooters automatically trigger social perceptions. Thus, users may have a feeling that the characters are social beings, although they know that they are just computer-generated objects. The first goal of MIGG is to test whether video game characters are perceived as social beings.


A second goal of MIGG is to test whether video game characters are treated as moral entities. If video game characters are perceived as social beings, is shooting them an immoral action? Accordingly, do users feel guilty if they shoot video game characters? A hypothesis is that ego-shooters contain moral-disengagement-cues that effectively frame the shooting of characters an "okay" action. MIGG examines if (and under what conditions) video game characters fall within or beyond a user's "moral circle".


A third goal of MIGG is to examine how users' perceptions of video game characters influence their enjoyment while playing. Why is virtual violence fun for many, but not for everybody? Does guilt play a pivotal role? Does guilt counteract game enjoyment?


A fourth goal of MIGG is to assess potential risk factors associated with violent video games. Do frequent players of ego-shooters learn how to suppress guilt while behaving aggressively in the real-world, for example? And are frequent players of ego-shooters more likely to perceive human-beings to be outside their "moral circle"?


MIGG Members

Brad Bushman
Elly Konijn
Jan-Willem van Prooijen
Jonathan Gratch
Peter Vorderer
Thomas Schubert
Tilo Hartmann (Coordinator)

Tjeert Olthof

Christoph Klimmt

Tobias Rothmund

Maria Teresa Soto Sanfiel