Konijn, E., Nije Bijvank, M., & Bushman, B. (2007, July). I wish I were a warrior: The role of wishful identification in the effects of violent video games on aggression in adolescent boys. Developmental Psychology, 43(4), 1038-1044. Retrieved June 27, 2009, doi:10.1037/0012-1649.43.4.1038

This study tested the hypothesis that violent video games are especially likely to increase aggression when players identify with violent game characters. Dutch adolescent boys with low education ability (N=112) were randomly assigned to play a realistic or fantasy violent or nonviolent video game. Next, they competed with an ostensible partner on a reaction time task in which the winner could blast the loser with loud noise through headphones (the aggression measure). Participants were told that high noise levels could cause permanent hearing damage. Habitual video game exposure, trait aggressiveness, and sensation seeking were controlled for. As expected, the most aggressive participants were those who played a violent game and wished they were like a violent character in the game. These participants used noise levels loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage to their partners, even though their partners had not provoked them. These results show that identifying with violent video game characters makes players more aggressive. Players were especially likely to identify with violent characters in realistic games and with games they felt immersed in. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)(from the journal abstract)