It's hard not to feel guilty when playing certain video games, particularly violent ones where players face moral choices.

Take Telltale's The Walking Dead series, for example: many choices players face within that game mean life or death, not just for the characters they control, but also for other characters around them. And with those deaths comes real guilt, at least according to a study led by Matthew Grizzard from the University of Buffalo in 2014.

That's especially true when we knowingly make bad choices in violent video games, particularly when we decide to follow the path of villain.

A new study by Grizzard and colleagues, though, revealed something else: although that initial guilt happens when playing, that feeling eventually goes away the longer you play a game.

In their study published in the journal Media Psychology, the researchers had a group of gamers play games that had them taking on the roles of moral and immoral characters. They discovered that not only does habituation occur over repeated gameplay, but they also found that over time, the longer a gamer played, the less guilt they felt, even when playing an immoral character.

So what does this mean? It seems that gamers grow desensitized over time to violent video games, and have less guilt over immoral decisions they make within games.

More intriguing, though, is why this happens. The first reason is that when a gamer plays something over and over, they just become less sensitive to what created the guilt in the first place. It becomes routine within their minds and the guilt eventually goes away.

It's the second reason, though, that's most intriguing.

"This second argument says the desensitization we're observing is not due to being numb to violence because of repeated play, but rather because the gamers' perception has adapted and started to see the game's violence differently," said Grizzard, the principal investigator of the study. "Through repeated play, gamers may come to understand the artificiality of the environment and disregard the apparent reality provided by the game's graphics."

Basically, this reason assumes that as they play, gamers begin to understand that although their first feelings of guilt are very real, the game itself is not: that becomes more evident with repeated gameplay, and that makes the guilty feelings eventually go away.

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