It's not the violent content in games that motivates gamers to buy interactive entertainment software, claims a new study.

The conclusion is based on results gathered by University of Rochester researchers in association with the Florida-based consultancy Immersyve. They conducted two surveys of 2,670 hardcore gamers and four experiments involving over 300 undergraduates.

Scott Rigby, president of Immersyve, said, "Much of the debate about game violence has pitted the assumed commercial value of violence against social concern about the harm it may cause.

"Our study shows that violence may not be the real value (element), freeing developers to design away from violence while at the same time broadening their market," he concluded.

Don't tell Rockstar!

"We wanted to know if the violent content by itself was motivating, because these games also offer compelling challenges and stories," said the report's author Andrew Przybylski.

The study looked at the motivations behind playing games such as World of Warcraft, Halo 3 and Team Fortress 2.

"For the vast majority of players, even those who regularly play and enjoy violent games, violence was not a plus," said Przybylski. "Violent content was only preferred by a small subgroup of people that generally reported being more aggressive… On average, violent content didn't add to the motivation for play."

The research findings are being published in the journal, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.