The enjoyment of violent digital games (e.g., shooting games) is paradoxical in the sense that players often enjoy shooting and killing people in the virtual world, even though they would reject this in the real world. Earlier studies indicated that perceived realism is an important concept to understand this paradox. However, no consensus exists on the nature of the relationship between perceived realism and game enjoyment. On the one hand, the enjoyment players experience when engaging with virtual violence can be initiated by an increased sense of realism which causes the player to feel present in the virtual world. On the other hand, a decreased sense of realism can allow players to justify and take moral distance from in-game violence. This study explores how a multidimensional conceptualization of perceived realism can reconcile these seemingly contradictory perspectives. We distinguish five dimensions of perceived game realism that may impact game enjoyment: simulational realism, freedom of choice, social realism, character involvement, and perceptual pervasiveness. Based on survey data of 728 college students who played a shooting game, perceptual pervasiveness and character involvement were found to positively and significantly relate to game enjoyment, while the other three dimensions did not. This study provides clarification on a theoretical level, contributing to the integration of research on the enjoyment of virtual violence.

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Computers in Human Behavior

Daneels, R. (Rowan), Malliet, S. (Steven), Koeman, J. (Joyce), & Ribbens, W. (2018). The enjoyment of shooting games: Exploring the role of perceived realism. Computers in Human Behavior, 86, 330–336. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2018.04.053