Jeong, E. (2012). Advertising effects and aggression in video games: Effects of sensory realism cues on brand memory, attitude, and aggression via physiological arousal, affect, and presence. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A, 72,

Violent video games have attracted much attention due to concerns over their potential to increase player aggression and potentially affect a player’s real-world behavior. However, these game environments are increasingly used to persuade in serious games and in advertising. While most research in this area focuses on their effect on the user’s aggression, relatively few studies focus on the impact of violent games on memory and attitude toward advertising that is sometimes present inside these games. As many of the games are highly arousing and often violent, these features may influence how persuasive information and brands are perceived and remembered. The emotions associated with the violent content might interact with the advertising either negatively or positively. Guided by theories of mediated aggression in virtual environments such as the general aggression model, the excitation transfer theory, and the theory of presence, two experimental studies were conducted by using a modified version of the popular shooter game, Half-Life 2. We investigated the effects of sensory realism of violence (i.e., realistic description of blood and screams of pain) on brand logo memory, attitude change towards brands experienced inside the game, and state aggression by controlling users’ trait aggression and prior experience of violent games. We also explored the degree to which these effects are mediated by users’ experience in the game, specifically the user’s emotional states (i.e., negative affect), their level of physiological arousal (i.e., skin conductance levels), and their sense of presence (i.e., spatial presence and engagement). To model these effects, a path analysis (SEM) was conducted to test the overall effects of the sensory realism cues on user memory, attitude change, and state aggression as mediated by the players’ level of arousal, negative affect, and presence in the game. The results showed that sensory realism cues of violence increased users’ physiological arousal and their negative affect. The increased negative affect subsequently enhanced the degree of state aggression. The degree of spatial presence most significantly predicted brand memory. However, it was notable that spatial presence led to a negative change in brand attitude. With increased spatial presence, players remembered brand logos in the game better but resulted in negative changes in brand attitude. Similarly, increased negative affect from the sensory realism cues caused a negative change in brand attitude. The negative affect mediated the effect of screams of pain on attitude change, and the effect of blood on state aggression. Even though the number of violent games is increasing, and will likely include a considerable number of blockbuster titles, advertisers should carefully consider the potentially negative outcome of advertising and user aggression in violent video games. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)