Interpreting social responses to Violence using Flow and Presence in a video game

  • Terrence Carnell

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research is motivated by the ongoing concerns and speculation made by censors, empiricists and social commentators that playing violent video games can have negative behavioural effects upon players by nurturing the propensity to be aggressive. Despite a substantial wealth of research already preceding this study, it has yielded dichotomising and tenuous answers. However, this research contribution adopts an original and critically nuanced approach that has until now not been taken. Starting from the observation that playing a videogame is a highly absorbing task whereby players enter a ‘flow’ state, a case is made for the importance of interpreting the effect of the play experience through the constructs of flow and presence. The flow construct is first of all validated in an experimental study, followed-up by an experimental study to assess if there is a relationship with aggression. Taking these findings, this research culminates in the proposal of the final experimental study that sought to see if the effect of the play experience could be determined through the constructs of flow and presence. The predictive qualities of the structural equation model were reasonably strong, with the measurement model and structural paths conforming to the hypotheses; that levels of presence were predictive of aggression and flow appeared to mostly mitigate. This research presents a new paradigm, arguing that some predictive capabilities are feasible, something which could prove to be useful to those attempting to factor as to how some play experiences are most likely to seed aggression in players.
Date of AwardJan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorBrett Stevens (Supervisor), Neil Dansey (Supervisor) & Mark Christian Eyles (Supervisor)

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