Roleplaying Games' influence on the Bleed Effect
The aim of this project was to answer the following research questions: does playing a heroic or villainous role affect moral competence scores and does the amount of moral dilemmas encountered while playing a role playing game affect moral competence scores. The project also aimed to explore the impact of the findings on our current view of the literature.
The study utilised a 2x3 quasi-experimental design. There were two independent variables: (1) number of moral dilemmas encountered during role playing game (RPG) play (medium moral dilemma, low moral dilemma, and no moral dilemma) and (2) playing as a hero or villain. Participants were asked to complete a brief questionnaire determining their suitability for the study. Exclusion criteria were applied for participants who felt unable to answer questions on the sensitive topics of cancer and euthanasia and for participants who had played Fable the Lost Chapters (FTLC) previously. If suitable, all participants completed the Moral Competence Test (MCT) as a pre-test. All participants were assigned to 1 of the 3 dilemma groups. Participants assigned to the medium and low conditions were sub-divided into the hero and villain conditions. Participants not in the control condition played FTLC until they had encountered and resolved the assigned amount of moral dilemmas (MD) (1 MD short condition and 3 MD for the long condition. All participants completed the MCT as post-test. Participants assigned to the villain condition were given the option to play as a hero after completing the MCT post-test in order to prevent potential priming towards “villainous actions” as a result of the study. Prior to debriefing all participants were given the opportunity to play Tetris regardless of grouping in order to prevent potential harm due to the sensitive nature of the MCT. The participants assigned to the control group played a free online version of Tetris for 15 minutes, after the post-test, participants who were assigned to the villain conditions also played Tetris in order to counteract possible priming effects.
Hypothesis 1 which stated that there would be a difference for the participants in their Moral Competence Test (MCT) scores based on the number of moral dilemmas, was not supported. Hypothesis 2 which stated that there would be a difference for the participants in their MCT scores based on which role they were assigned (hero or villain) was not supported. Hypothesis 3 stated that there would be an interaction effect for the participants in their MCS based on the number of moral dilemmas and the role played, was also not supported.