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How should video games be censored?

Research at Waikato University is producing results that will help inform video gaming censorship classification in the future.

Screen and Media Studies senior lecturer Dr Gareth Schott is leading a new genre of international academic research, Game Studies, to examine the impact of video game violence on young New Zealanders in context with the culture of gaming, and the experiences and ideas of the players.

His research is revealing differences in impacts between the "viewed experience" and the "played experience". For example, gamers can be so intent on their playing strategy that they are oblivious to screen content that may actually cause them to flinch when they watch the game later.

The rules of the game, the nature of the encounters, and the choices available also has an impact on players that is not currently reflected in the video game classification systems worldwide, as these are based on film classifications that consider the "viewed experience" only.

"Gaming has all kinds of negative stereotypes associated with it. Yet kids aren't automatically being duped and brainwashed by games. There are instances where they are actually learning useful creative practices inspired by playing them."

Dr. Schott draws together physiological, psychological and games studies research methodologies to assess the nature of violent content within video games via the experiences and articulations of the young gamers themselves. This pioneering, Marsden-funded research also takes account of the interactive properties of the games, the medium itself, the social dimension of play, and the cultural practices of gaming in order to provide insight on the attraction of video game violence, as well as to help analyse its effects.

Supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund.

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