Mortal Kombat (tm): The Effects of Violent Videogame Play on Males' Hostility and Cardiovascular Responding1


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    We would like to thank Jason Baldwin and Elizabeth Ross for their assistance in running subjects. We would also like to thank Doris Bazzini, Alan Dodson, Lora Lee Hildreth, Amy Miller, Barbara Racey, and Paige Temple for their feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mary E. Ballard, Department of Psychology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608. e-mail:


We examined cardiovascular (CV) reactivity and hostility among 30 male undergraduates after either nonviolent (billiards) or 1 of 2 levels of violent videogame play. Violence varied among 2 versions of the game Mortal Kombat (MK1 = less violent, MK2 = more violent)—all other factors (graphics, sound) were held equal. As expected, increased game violence elicited greater CV reactivity and higher scores on hostility measures. Subjects who played MK1 or MK2 had higher heart rate reactivity than those who played billiards. Subjects who played MK2 showed greater systolic blood pressure reactivity than those who played MK1 or billiards. Finally, subjects who played MK2 scored higher on the hostility measures than those who played MK1, who in turn scored higher than those who played billiards. These results indicate that the level of videogame violence, not just violence per se, should be of concern to consumers.