Review of Communication Research

VIDEO GAMES                 

Title and Author

Video Games as a Multifaceted Medium: A Review of Quantitative Social Science Research on Video Games and a Typology of Video Game Research Approaches

Ivory, James D.

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Highlights

• Much quantitative social science research has explored video games’ social impact using widely varied methods and approaches.

• As light is sometimes studied as a wave and sometimes as a particle, video game research has used many perspectives.

• It is difficult to compare some game research because studies often examine one social dimension of games while ignoring others.

• Researchers exploring different video game dimensions are sometimes like the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant.

• A typology of social science research approaches to video games will aid comparison, synthesis, and expansion of research.

• This review of video game research approaches identifies four distinct perspectives used in much video game research.

• The “video games as stimulus” perspective includes research focused on effects of game content and features on users.

• The “video games as avocation” perspective includes research focused on users of video games and their commitment to the medium.

• The “video games as skill” perspective includes research focused on video games as a tool for developing skills and abilities.

• The “video games as social environment” perspective includes research focused on social interaction between game users.

Abstract

Although there is a vast and useful body of quantitative social science research dealing with the social role and impact of video games, it is difficult to compare studies dealing with various dimensions of video games because they are informed by different perspectives and assumptions, employ different methodologies, and address different problems. Studies focusing on different social dimensions of video games can produce varied findings about games’ social function that are often difficult to reconcile— or even contradictory. Research is also often categorized by topic area, rendering a comprehensive view of video games’ social role across topic areas difficult. This interpretive review presents a novel typology of four identified approaches that categorize much of the quantitative social science video game research conducted to date: “video games as stimulus,” “video games as avocation,” “video games as skill,” and “video games as social environment.” This typology is useful because it provides an organizational structure within which the large and growing number of studies on video games can be categorized, guiding comparisons between studies on different research topics and aiding a more comprehensive understanding of video games’ social role. Categorizing the different approaches to video game research provides a useful heuristic for those critiquing and expanding that research, as well as an understandable entry point for scholars new to video game research. Further, and perhaps more importantly, the typology indicates when topics should be explored using different approaches than usual to shed new light on the topic areas. Lastly, the typology exposes the conceptual disconnects between the different approaches to video game research, allowing researchers to consider new ways to bridge gaps between the different approaches’ strengths and limitations with novel methods.

Content

INTRODUCTION

Figure 1. Conceptual Model of Social Dimensions of Video Games Examined by Different Video Game Research Approaches.

Table 1. Overview of Quantitative Social Science Video Game Research Approaches.

VIDEO GAMES AS STIMULUS

Definition and Characteristics

Examples

Violence.

Portrayals of gender, race, and age.

Advertising and product placement.

Technological advancement.

Game controls.

Trends in Popularity over Time

Advantages and Limitations

VIDEO GAMES AS AVOCATION

Definition and Characteristics

Examples

Video game use.

Problematic use and “addiction.”

Trends in Popularity over Time

Advantages and Limitations

VIDEO GAMES AS SKILL

Definition and Characteristics

Examples

Perception, cognition, and motor skills.

Physical activity.

Trends in Popularity over Time

Advantages and Limitations

VIDEO GAMES AS SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

Definition and Characteristics

Examples

Social interaction and relationships.

Online behavioral observation.

Trends in Popularity over Time

Advantages and Limitations

APPLYING THE TYPOLOGY WHEN CRITIQUING AND CONDUCTING RESEARCH

CONCLUSIONS

REFERENCES

COPYRIGHTS AND REPOSITORIES

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Video Games as a Multifaceted Medium: A Review of Quantitative Social Science Research on Video Games and a Typology of Video Game Research Approaches

James D. Ivory

 

Keywords: Video Games; Media Effects; Violent Video Games; Video Game Characters; Video Game Addiction; Exergames; Active Video Games; Online Games; Virtual Environments

  Filesize 1 MB Download 8040

How to cite

Ivory, J. D. (2013). Video Games as a Multifaceted Medium: A Review of Quantitative Social Science Research on Video Games and a Typology of Video Game Research Approaches. Review of Communication Research, 1(1), 31-68. doi: 10.12840/issn.2255-4165_2013_01.01_002

More info

Video Games, Media Effects. Violent Video Games. Video Game Characters, Video Game Addiction, Exergames, Active Video Games, Online Games, Virtual Environments

About the Author

http://www.comm.vt.edu/People_in_Comm/Faculty_Bios/ivory_bio.html

http://jamesdivory.com

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