Zombie games and us-them relations
Violent video games may temporarily boost aggressive impulses, but they can build fellowship, too. In an experiment, students at a Canadian university played a first-person shooter game for 12 minutes fighting zombies, in cooperation with another student online. This other student was described as being either from the same university or a rival American university. After ostensibly playing with the American, the Canadian students reported significantly more favorable attitudes toward the other university and Americans in general—but not other extraneous groups—and were just as likely to report being a “team” as if they had played with a fellow Canadian student.
Adachi, P. et al., “Brothers and Sisters in Arms: Intergroup Cooperation in a Violent Shooter Game Can Reduce Intergroup Bias,” Psychology of Violence (forthcoming).
This perception of us-them relations is important for distinguishing who is a zombie and what is it to be a human. This is like a shibboleth test for group membership (friend or foe?), but this research shows that these shared distinctions help developing group bonds. The us-them border is a formation, never fully formed, always in formation and developing from interactions. The enemy of my enemy is my friend…?