- Inspired by last year's death of Toronto taxi driver Tahir Khan, who was hit on a winding ravine road by a teenage street racer with a copy of the video game Need for Speed in his car, German psychologists have compiled the most extensive case yet that racing games cause reckless driving.
Playing such titles as Burnout, Midnight Racer and Need for Speed "increases risk-taking behaviour in critical road traffic situations," the team led by Peter Fischer reports today in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
Writing about the Toronto case, in light of earlier examples of people reenacting video game scenarios to lethal effect, such as the Columbine school shootings, Prof. Fischer writes: "What if players of racing games similarly model their actual road traffic behaviour on their behaviour during these games?"
One of the team's experiments largely replicates a survey done last month by BSM, a British driving school.
Both showed that the more a person plays a racing game, the more likely he is to drive in an "obtrusive and competitive" manner. Both also come with the caveat that self-reporting is notoriously unreliable.
But the German team, from the elite Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, went further to look at whether playing a racing game can directly...