How players manage moral concerns to make video game violence enjoyable

Christoph Klimmt, Hannah Schmid, Andreas Nosper, Tilo Hartmann, Peter Vorderer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Research on video game violence has focused on the impact of aggression, but has so far neglected the processes and mechanisms underlying the enjoyment of video game violence. The present contribution examines a specific process in this context, namely players' strategies to cope with moral concern that would (in real-life settings) arise from violent actions. Based on Bandura's (2002) theory of moral disengagement, we argue that in order to maintain their enjoyment of game violence, players find effective strategies to avoid or cope with the moral conflict related to their violent behaviors in the game world ('moral management'). Exploratory interviews with ten players of violent video games revealed some relevance of moral reasoning to their game enjoyment, and several strategies that help players to 'manage' moral concern. Most importantly, respondents referred to the game-reality distinction and their focus on winning the game when explaining how violent action is a by-product of good performance. Findings are discussed in light of further theorizing on 'moral management' and potential links to the media violence debate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-328
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Enjoyment
  • Entertainment
  • Moral management
  • Qualitative research
  • Theory
  • Video games
  • Violence


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