2012 year in review for videogames research

Philip Fry (Futurama), the quintessential null hypothesis

The year 2012 has been quite a yield in the field of videogames research and my journey towards a PhD has started. According to my citeulike database, I have collected 306 articles as of this morning, including my master’s thesis. My blogging has been going on for five years now and I am surprised at how long I persisted. Although I monitor the number of views on a weekly basis, received emails from academics who are aware of my blog and praised this community service. But I still have doubts in its impact, whether I get attention (I’m no Ed Yong), raising awareness (No press releases for the quite interesting studies or poor journalistic writing of a study) or even calming a oft-jittery community whenever they get wind of a videogame study (that is what I see in the comments). On gaming websites, articles and comments to videogame research still display the usual knee-jerk defensiveness [1][2][3], even to the positive ones [4][5].

There are some particular themes for 2012 in the academic literature. I blogged earlier in June on a series of studies on cooperative gaming which had attracted some attention thanks to Jamie Madigan. Since the blog post, additional articles were published:

Ballard, M., Visser, K., & Jocoy, K. (2012). Social context and video game play: Impact on cardiovascular and affective responses. Mass Communication and Society, 15 (6), 875-898. DOI:10.1080/15205436.2011.632106

Schmierbach, M., Xu, Q., Oeldorf-Hirsch, A., & Dardis, F. E. (2012). Electronic friend or virtual foe: Exploring the role of competitive and cooperative multiplayer video game modes in fostering enjoyment. Media Psychology, 15 (3), 356-371. DOI:10.1080/15213269.2012.702603

Velez, J. A., Mahood, C., Ewoldsen, D. R., & Moyer-Gusé, E. (2012). Ingroup versus outgroup conflict in the context of violent video game play: The effect of cooperation on increased helping and decreased aggression. Communication Research. DOI:10.1177/0093650212456202

Besmann, A., & Rios, K. (2012). Pals in power armor: Attribution of Human-Like emotions to video game characters in an Ingroup/Outgroup situation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15 (8), 441-443.DOI:10.1089/cyber.2012.0111

Peng, W., & Hsieh, G. (2012). The influence of competition, cooperation, and player relationship in a motor performance centered computer game. Computers in Human Behavior, 28 (6), 2100-2106.DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2012.06.014

Chanel, G., Kivikangas, J. M., & Ravaja, N. (2012). Physiological compliance for social gaming analysis: Cooperative versus competitive play. Interacting with Computers, 24 (4), 306-316. DOI:10.1016/j.intcom.2012.04.012

Greitemeyer, T., Traut-Mattausch, E., & Osswald, S. (2012). How to ameliorate negative effects of violent video games on cooperation: Play it cooperatively in a team. Computers in Human Behavior, 28 (4), 1465-1470.DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2012.03.009

With the exception for Mike Schmierbach who I just blogged earlier, I apologize to these authors for not reviewing their articles. The cooperation-competition research line is picking up steam, although we have examined some aspects of multiplayer gaming, but most studies examined dyadic play. The next step is beyond dyadic play towards group play (+3 participants), this might pose some logistical problems as to whether we would consistently get groups of people playing together or how we go about assessing whatever outcome variables we are interested in. We have the resources at OSU for up to 12 people at a time, so I am open to suggestions.

I noticed that there were four articles reviewing videogame addiction, three of them authored by the seminal researcher Mark D. Griffiths (Nottingham Trent University) [1][2][3] and one by Weinstein and Weizman (2012). I find it peculiar there are many review articles this year, but then it’s a good thing since I don’t follow the videogame addiction literature that well.

I am following, through twitter, Jeffery Lin’s works on League of Legends’ highly competitive and vocal community. His team of social scientists have done good work in remedying the online toxic behaviours which I want them to publish their findings in a journal, publish or it didn’t happen.

This year represents a shift towards diversity and tolerance in videogames. Many notable events highlighted problems in videogame culture, such as gender intolerance, sexual harassment, machismo among others, I refer you to some other year in review pieces from videogame news. Gamastura’s Leigh Alexander has given a perspective of the year in looking back at the most significant controversies, from the marketing fiasco of Hitman: Absolution to Anita Sarkessian’s kickstarter campaign. Keza MacDonald of IGN recounted the year on the progress of women’s representation in videogames. The online presence of Fat, Ugly or Slutty and Not in the Kitchen Anymore provides further evidence and awareness of gaming’s issues of sexism and masculinity.

Although I suspect this may be due to the frequency illusion (see Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon) from these significant events, I have noticed many research articles have popped up supporting the troubling issues of sexism in videogames.

Shaw, A. (2012). Talking to gaymers: Questioning identity, community and media representation. Westminster Papers in Communication & Culture, 9 (1), 67-89.

Stermer, S. P., & Burkley, M. (2012). Xbox or SeXbox? an examination of sexualized content in video games. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6 (7), 525-535. DOI:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00442.x

Gallagher, R. (2012). No sex please, we are finite state machines: On the melancholy sexlessness of the video game. Games and Culture. DOI:10.1177/1555412012466287

Vieira, E. T. (2012). The relationships among girls’ prosocial video gaming, Perspective-Taking, sympathy, and thoughts about violence. Communication Research. DOI:10.1177/0093650212463049

Near, C. E. (2012). Selling gender: Associations of box art representation of female characters with sales for teen- and mature-rated video games. Sex Roles, (pp. 1-18). DOI:10.1007/s11199-012-0231-6

Stermer, S. P., & Burkley, M. (2012). SeX-box: Exposure to sexist video games predicts benevolent sexism. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. DOI:10.1037/a0028397

Poels, K., De Cock, N., & Malliet, S. (2012). The female player does not exist: Gender identity relates to differences in player motivations and play styles. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15 (11), 634-638. DOI:10.1089/cyber.2012.0164

Lewis, A., & Griffiths, M. (2011). Confronting gender representation: A qualitative study of the experiences and motivations of female Casual-Gamers. Revista de Psicologia, Ciències de l’Educació i de l’Esport, 28 , 245-273.

Salter, A., & Blodgett, B. (2012). Hypermasculinity & dickwolves: The contentious role of women in the new gaming public. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56 (3), 401-416.DOI:10.1080/08838151.2012.705199

Fisher, H. D. (2012). Don’t Let the Girls Play: Gender Representation in Videogame Journalism and the Influence of Hegemonic Masculinity, Media Filters, and Message Mediation. Ph.D. thesis, Ohio University.

Tucker, S. (2011). Griefing: Policing masculinity in online games. Master’s thesis, University of Oregon.

Thomas, K., & Levant, R. (2012). Does the endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology moderate the relationship between exposure to violent video games and aggression? The Journal of Men’s Studies, 20 (1), 47-56. DOI:10.3149/jms.2001.47

I have raised my hand in this matter by investigating sexual harassment in videogames. Jesse Fox (Ohio State University) and I, along with the help of many people, have surveyed the internet late October with eight self-report measures and open-ended reports. Glancing at the correlations, they are in the predicted directions.  Hopefully we’ll have coded the open-ended reports and submit a publication before the end of the year. I am taking this slowly as I get heartburn after reading a few responses.

That is all.


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