A new study conducted by Ohio State University researchers came to a not-so-stunning conclusion regarding the advertising receptivity of gamers: People who play video games that involved killing do not notice in-game ads and product placements.
For the study, 154 college students were asked to play the game "The Getaway." In the game, players drove through city streets emblazoned with signage for McDonald's and Starbucks. Half of the players were instructed to kill as many people as possible, either by shooting or running them over, and the other half were told to avoid shooting or hitting people.
Following the game, each player was asked to name as many of the 16 brands in the game as they could. Of the gamers who played non-violently, ad recall was 51% higher than those who gleefully shot and ran people over.
A sister study was conducted that placed ads -- for fictitious brands -- more prominently in the game, with 102 students who were asked to play "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." In the game, students controlled a taxi emblazoned with ads on the sides and rear of the vehicle. These vehicles were clearly visible to the players who controlled the vehicles from a third-person perspective. Like the first part of the study, half the players were told to play violently and the other half non-violently (just drove the vehicle around the city).
Of those who played the game violently, just 12% could recall the brand names on their vehicles while 20% of non-violent players could recall. The fact that just 20% of non-violent players could recall is a sad testament to our ADD-addled society.
Of the finding, OSU Professor of Communication and Psychology Brad Bushman said: "Killing characters in video games may be fun for players, but it appears to be bad for business. Video game violence impaired the memory for brands in both of our studies. If they were driving through the streets in a violent way, they remembered less of the brands they saw along the way."
This study follows and earlier one conducted by OSU which found longer game playing time can lead to more aggressive behavior.
Brands could, ahem, kill two birds with one stone by not sponsoring violent games; reduce the support game makers rely on for the popularity of those products, and potentially reduce the incessant focus on violence in games that do remain popular.