Product placement of real-world firearm brands in video games doesn’t affect attitudes towards guns. And if you’ve got a soft spot for the AR-15, there’s a far higher chance you can point to your politics instead of your K/D ratio as the main reason.
These are the major findings of a recent study from Doctors Joseph Hilgard, Christopher Engelhardt and Bruce Bartholow – who specialise in videogame psychology.
In the study, after playing first-person shooter games with either a virtual depiction of a real firearm (the Bushmaster AR-15) or a science fiction plasma rifle, the players’ attitudes towards the AR-15 – and gun ownership in general – were surveyed.
Players were either given powerful or weak versions of the guns, neither of which were found to change opinions on public policy surrounding gun use or estimation of gun safety. The researchers say this suggests that brief exposure to product placement does not encourage certain attitudes towards guns.
“Political views are often strong and resistant to change. Relative to the influence of political beliefs, the effects of brief exposure to a violent game featuring an attractive firearm may be minimal,” the research reads.
“If product placement in video games does change attitudes towards firearms in general or towards a brand of firearm specifically, these changes may be smaller and subtler than we anticipated, may require more sophisticated experimental procedures to study, may require longer exposure periods for cultivation or may be limited to some subset of the general population”.