Video games are one of the most popular media forms in today's society, but are often criticized for various reasons. For instance, mainstream video games do not incorporate enough racially diverse game characters or are often connected to adolescents’ levels of aggression and have thus been the focus of many debates. While the negative consequences of video games have been analyzed by many academic studies, research on the prosocial effects of video games is scarce. To address this research gap and support the ongoing call for more diverse video game characters, this study used a 3 × 1 between-subjects design (N = 86) to test the impact of racially diverse non-playable characters (NPCs). The parasocial contact hypothesis was used as the theoretical foundation, incorporating virtual reality technology as an intensifier of effects. The results showed that helping a Black NPC did not reduce implicit bias, but reduced explicit bias towards Black people. This improvement was stronger when the video game was played using virtual reality technology than when using a traditional two-dimensional gaming device.

You do not currently have access to this content.