Can Video Games Prevent Drunk Driving?

Screenshot of a video game as part of a research study that determined if video games prevent drunk driving through subliminal messages

Video games and drunk driving usually do not go together in a sentence, but an interesting study is looking at ways to see if this form of entertainment can reach younger audiences’ minds and prevent drunk driving. The study included nearly 400 college-age gamers with 60 percent of the group male and 40 percent female.

Anti-DUI Posters in Video Games

There’s an ever-increasing exposure to virtual reality gaming. So it may not come as much of a surprise that a study would test its effects on participants’ behavior.

A research group in the U.S. recently asked participants to navigate a first-person shooter game to see if video games prevent drunk driving. While gamers are shooting at aliens in a post-apocalyptic world, a poster suddenly appears on a wall from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). It says in bold words, ‘I’m Just Buzzed,’ with a car crash and yellow caution tape in the background.

The method they are using is subtle; in the video game, posters are shown throughout the area that expose participants to anti-drunk driving messages. It’s a little out of place. But then again, that’s the point so the posters leave a further impression in the participants’ minds.

Do Subliminal Messages in Our Entertainment Mediums Work?

Apparently, messages in the background of a busy virtual environment with a fully immersed player has a higher likelihood of them accepting that message. The experiment also found in comparison, however, that less engaged players did not acknowledge the message as well. Studies also show that even the behavior of distraction, which can be exhibited in video games, can even enhance the acknowledgment of a subtle message.

It wouldn’t be the first time research groups have studied this behavior. Subtle messages have been in many forms of entertainment for years.

Although it is indirect, the results from the experiment appear to be promising because of similar studies in other forms of entertainment.

Can Video Games Prevent Drunk Driving? The Results

But can video games really prevent drunk driving? The results are not clear just yet, but it appears to be promising for a younger audience.

The experiment comes about at a time where drunk driving deaths are unfortunately on the rise in the U.S.  In 2015 and 2016, drunk driving deaths increased overall, and college drivers are no exception, even if their age group is showing a fortunate decrease. Nevertheless, dangerous behavior that could lead to drunk driving such as binge drinking is still a negative trend.

The one definite tool that stops drunk driving is Ignition Interlocks. They are car breathalyzers that are a requirement in your vehicle if you have a DUI conviction. With the promise of new data to consider from interesting research studies such as this one, and the right tools like Ignition Interlocks, we can see a safer future on our roadways among any age group.

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