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This study investigates the effects of media frames on attitudes toward video games, perceptions of their users, and consequences. Prior research has shown that gaming is a controversial issue, with media coverage focusing on either risks or opportunities. To examine the effects of these portrayals, the present study used a 2 × 2 experimental design and exposed participants (N = 360) to a news article that framed gaming in terms of risk or opportunity on the journalistic level and on the level of a corresponding expert statement. By examining the perceived negative effects of games, this study extends previous research by combining framing and third-person research. Results showed that framing gaming indeed had an effect on participants’ attitudes. This framing effect was moderated by individual video game use. Despite identifying a traditional third-person perception regarding negative video game effects, we found framing to have no significant influence on third-person perceptions.
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Article
Framing Gaming:
The Effects of
Media Frames
on Perceptions
of Game(r)s
Anna Sophie Ku
¨mpel
1
and Alexander Haas
1
Abstract
This study investigates the effects of media frames on attitudes toward video games,
perceptions of their users, and consequences. Prior research has shown that gaming is
a controversial issue, with media coverage focusing on either risks or opportunities.
To examine the effects of these portrayals, the present study used a 2 2experi-
mental design and exposed participants (N¼360) to a news article that framed gaming
in terms of risk or opportunity on the journalistic level and on the level of a corre-
sponding expert statement. By examining the perceived negative effects of games, this
study extends previous research by combining framing and third-person research.
Results showed that framing gaming indeed had an effect on participants’ attitudes.
This framing effect was moderated by individual video game use. Despite identifying a
traditional third-person perception regarding negative video game effects, we found
framing to have no significant influence on third-person perceptions.
Keywords
framing, third-person perceptions, video games, quantitative experiment
1
Institute of Communication Studies and Media Research, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
Corresponding Author:
Anna Sophie Ku¨mpel, Institute of Communication Studies and Media Research, LMU Munich,
Oettingenstr. 67, Munich 80538, Germany.
Email: kuempel@ifkw.lmu.de
Games and Culture
2016, Vol. 11(7-8) 720-744
ªThe Author(s) 2015
Reprints and permission:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/1555412015578264
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Introduction
Gaming is an increasingly popular activity among various age-groups and in almost
all areas of the world (Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 2013; Ipsos Med-
iaCT, 2012). Due to the continuing growth of the home console market and the wide
dissemination of mobile devices, games can now be played almost everywhere and
at any time. Nevertheless, gaming continues to be a highly stereotyped activity. The
mass media portrays gamers as quirky nerds, socially isolated loners, or even violent
criminals (cf. Kowert, Griffith, & Oldmeadow, 2013; Williams, 2003). As past
events have shown, the last depiction, especially, can have social consequences
(cf. Scharrer, Weidman, & Bissell, 2003). The discussion of gaming in the context
of school shootings, addiction, and other kinds of deviant behavior has the potential
to alter individual, as well as collective, perceptions of game(r)s, which in turn might
influence support for media restrictions and censorship. This might be especially
true for those who are not familiar with video games or who do not play them at all.
The present study therefore focuses on the question of how certain media frames
affect people’s attitudes and perceptions of game(r)s. This question is analyzed by
framing video games in a positive, negative, or balanced way and associating them
with different values. In addition, by examining the perceived negative effects of
video games, this study extends previous research by combining framing and
third-person research. It also investigates whether different frames affect the occur-
rence and extent of third-person perceptions and the support for game regulation.
Video games offer an interesting field of study with respect to the effects of framing
for the following three main reasons: First, mass communication researchers have
produced a significant number of studies that attract the attention of the news media.
Second, both scientific and media discourses are highly polarized—emphasizing
either the benefits and opportunities associated with gaming or its threats and risks.
Third, and finally, the investigation of differences between gamers and nongamers
provides valuable insight into the moderating effects of issue importance and
familiarity.
Literature Review
Framing Effects
Generally, framing refers to the fact that media can (and do) portray the same topic
in different ways, thus promoting ‘‘a particular problem definition, causal interpre-
tation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described’’
(Entman, 1993, p. 52). The Columbine school shooting in 1999 not only was one of
the biggest school massacres the United States had experienced up to that point, but
it was also ‘‘the most closely watched news event of the year’’ (Birkland & Lawr-
ence, 2009, p. 1405). Since the basic journalistic questions of ‘‘who,’’ ‘‘what,’
‘when,’’ and ‘‘where’’ were able to be answered quickly in the days following the
shooting, the rather complex question of ‘‘why’’ dominated news coverage and
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public debates (cf. Scharrer et al., 2003). Among the most frequently cited causes of
the shooting were products of popular culture, that is, Movies, music, and, not least,
video games were held accountable for the violence of the young gunmen, while
social exclusion, poor parenting, or accessibility of guns initially did not receive
much attention from the media. Some years later, similar patterns emerged in the
coverage of the Red Lake massacre and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shoot-
ing. Again, playing video games was quickly implicated as a crucial contributory
factor to the events—even though the evidence for this assumed relationship was
modest or even nonexistent (Ferguson, 2014). These examples demonstrate that
no issue, situation, or incident has an inherent meaning. On the contrary, ‘‘interpre-
tations of issues are negotiated, contested, and modified over time’’ (Matthes, 2012,
p. 249). Media frames can be seen as central organizing ideas (cf. Gamson & Mod-
igliani, 1989, p. 3) that have the power to influence public perceptions as well as
political decisions. Indeed, research has repeatedly shown that media frames have
important effects on preferences, evaluations, and attitudes toward the issue
described (for an overview, see Entman, Matthes, & Pellicano, 2009).
Scholars investigating different kinds of such framing effects have generally
focused on equivalency frames and emphasis or issue frames (cf. Druckman,
2001, pp. 228–231). The equivalency frame presents information in a different but
logically equivalent way. The classic psychological experiments by Kahneman and
Tversky (1984) provide examples of this type of frame. In contrast, issue frames
‘focus on different potentially relevant considerations’’ (Druckman, 2001, p.
230), include more than a single argument, and address the essence of a problem.
Thus, they are also implying possible solutions and treatment recommendations
(cf. Entman et al., 2009, p. 182; Nelson & Kinder, 1996, p. 1057).
A specific kind of such emphasis/issue frames are valence frames. Valence
frames describe issues or events in either positive or negative terms, thus being
inherently evaluative and ‘‘indicative of ‘good and bad’’’ (de Vreese & Boomgaar-
den, 2003, p. 363). Up to this point, a number of (political) communication studies
have dealt with the effects of such types of frames, providing evidence that they
influence individuals’ evaluations and even their support of policies (cf. Schuck
& de Vreese, 2006). For example, Nelson, Clawson, and Oxley (1997) investigated
the effects of framing a rally of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members either in a positive
way (freedom of expression) or in a negative way (having the potential for disorder
and physical violence). As a result, participants in the ‘‘freedom of expression’’ con-
dition expressed significantly more tolerance than the other participants toward the
KKK (for similar results, see McLeod & Detenber, 1999). Focusing on public sup-
port for European Union (EU) enlargement, several studies have investigated how
framing European politics in terms of opportunity or risk influenced support for the
enlargement process (de Vreese & Boomgaarden, 2003; de Vreese & Kandyla,
2009; Lecheler & de Vreese, 2011; Schuck & de Vreese, 2006). All of them identi-
fied the effects of valence frames, that is, participants in the positive opportunity
frame condition showed significantly higher levels of support and more positive
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thoughts and attributed more advantages to the EU enlargement. It therefore can be
concluded that valence frames have a substantial impact on individuals’ perceptions
and (political) views.
To date, there have been no empirical investigations of the actual effects of video
game news coverage. However, at least a few studies have focused on media por-
trayals and/or perceptions of game(r)s. They reveal that discourse about gaming is
highly polarized and emphasizes either the benefits and opportunities or the threats
and risks of gaming (e.g., Jo¨ckel, Hohmann, & Reichenbach, 2010; Kowert et al.,
2013; Kowert & Oldmeadow, 2012; Narine & Grimes, 2009; Smith, Lachlan, &
Tamborini, 2003; Williams, 2003). One stresses the opportunities and positive
effects of gaming, that is, improving mental fitness, problem-solving skills, and
social competence. The other emphasizes the potentially negative consequences;
here, gaming is portrayed as a highly worrisome leisure activity, leading to social
exclusion, diminished school performance, and increased aggressive behavior. In
light of these findings and of the above-mentioned studies of the effects of valence
framing, we propose our first hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Participants who read a news story withan opportunity frame will
(a) perceive video game players more positively,
(b) attribute more positive effects to video games,
(c) attribute fewer negative effects to video games,
(d) think that fewer people suffer from video game addiction, and
(e) support video game regulation less than participants who read a news
story with a risk frame.
Unlike most valence-framing studies, the present study focuses not only on an
ideal-typical differentiation between risk (negative) and opportunity (positive), but
it also considers the influence of balanced news stories and poses the following
research question:
Research Question 1: How do balanced news stories affect the perception of
video game players, the evaluation of the consequences of video games, the
estimation of people suffering from video game addiction, and support for
video game regulation?
Closely connected to valence frames are value frames, which draw ‘‘an association
between a value and an issue that carries an evaluative implication: It presents one posi-
tion on an issue as being right (and others as wrong) by linking that position to a specific
core value’’ (Brewer, 2001, p. 46). Nelson and colleagues (1997) have argued that by
associating an issue with a specific value, value frames do not—or do not only—influ-
ence the accessibility of those values but the importance that people attach to them.
Framing, thus, is a rather deliberate process in which recipients form judgments about
the applicability of information (cf. Brewer & Gross, 2005). Consequently, we assume
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that the emphasis of certain values in the articles leads participants to perceive them as
more applicable to game(r)s. In the present case, the combination of values and a certain
valence (positive or negative) may, in particular, increase or decrease the applicability
of those values. In the case of media coverage about video games, as will be shown later,
achievement and benevolence values (cf. Schwartz, 1994) are especially pronounced.
Thus, we propose the following research question:
Research Question 2: How does the positive or negative addressing of
achievement and benevolence values in news stories influence the applicabil-
ity of those values?
Some scholars focus on the potential moderators of framing effects (e.g., Druck-
man, 2001; Lecheler, de Vreese, & Slothuus, 2009). It is quite obvious that issue
importance might have the potential to moderate the strength of effects. However, the
assumption of a rather simple relationship between the two factors might be mislead-
ing. One could assume that the framing effects of media coverage might be stronger
for those who do not consider an issue as important, since attitudes concerning low-
importance issues can be changed more easily (cf. Jacks & Devine, 2000). The results
of two experimental framing studies point in that direction (cf. Lecheler et al., 2009).
Then again, a higher issue importance could result in higher audience sensitivity and
therefore could strengthen media effects (cf. Erbring, Goldenberg, & Miller, 1980).
In the context of video games, issue importance should be related to the individ-
ual’s own experience with gaming and, especially, to his or her individual video
game use. While gamers will probably base their opinions on existent considerations
and self-acquired experiences with gaming, nongamers are more likely to form opi-
nions on the basis of mediated information and thus are also more likely to be
affected by media frames. We therefore consider the following research question:
Research Question 3: How does individual video game use influence the
effects of framing?
Of course, the distinction between gamers and nongamers has implications differ-
ent from comparable binary classifications. Playing video games or not playing
video games is a free decision, while, for example, choosing if the country you live
in is an EU member state is not. Although, in both cases, people in both groups will
probably react differently to media coverage, the strength of their attitudes, as well
as the mechanisms of their opinion formation, is certainly quite divergent.
Third-Person Perceptions
Framing research demonstrates that evaluations and judgments depend on how
issues are framed. Nevertheless, people tend to deny mass media’s influence on
themselves. On the other hand, when asking people about how the same media con-
tent affects other people, they are likely to attribute a significant impact to it. This
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perceptual judgment, first described by Davison (1983), has become known as third-
person perception. Because it is most pronounced when it comes to negative media
effects, the existence of third-person perceptions has been demonstrated in contexts
such as television violence (e.g., Hoffner et al., 2001; Rojas, Shah, & Faber, 1996),
pornography (e.g., Gunther, 1995; Lo & Wei, 2002), and reality shows (e.g., Cohen
& Weimann, 2008). Moreover, previous research has already confirmed the pres-
ence of third-person perceptions associated with the topic of (violent) video games
(e.g., Boyle, Schmierbach, & McLeod, 2013; Ivory & Kalyanaraman, 2009; Schar-
rer & Leone, 2006; Schmierbach, Boyle, Xu, & McLeod, 2011; Schmierbach, Xu, &
Boyle, 2012; Zhong, 2009).
Meta-analyses, reporting average effect sizes between r¼.31 (Sun, Pan, & Shen,
2008) and r¼.50 (Paul, Salwen, & Dupagne, 2000), have shown that the self–other
discrepancy is a robust phenomenon. However, it is more likely to occur under par-
ticular conditions. The effect is moderated by the perceived desirability of media
effects and the credibility of the message (cf. Brosius & Engel, 1996; Wei, Lo &
Lu, 2011). Furthermore, it is influenced by the social distance to the third persons
(cf. Cohen, Mutz, Price, & Gunther, 1988; Meirick, 2005), as well as by the traits
of respondents, such as self-perceived knowledge, education, age, or media use
behavior (cf. Brosius & Engel, 1996; Gunther, 1995; Hoffner et al., 2001; Salwen
& Dupagne, 2001). In summary, third-person perceptions are most likely to appear
under three conditions. First, when (particularly) undesirable messages are evalu-
ated. Second, when perceived distance between self and others is large (social dis-
tance corollary) and/or the third persons are viewed as the main target or recipients
of a given message (target corollary). Third, when respondents possess certain char-
acteristics that make them more susceptible to showing self–other discrepancies. In
light of this research, we state the following general hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2: Participants will perceive children, adolescents, their fellow
students, and adults over 40 to be more affected than themselves by the neg-
ative effects of video games.
Additionally, we expect that the perceived gap will vary among these groups.
The target corollary predicts that effects estimates are based on perceived exposure
(cf. Meirick, 2005). Thus, we anticipate that the third-person perception will be
larger in comparisons to children and adolescents than to fellow students and adults
over 40. This is due to the fact that children and adolescents are usually mentioned as
the main target audience for games and are the main focus of debates about the risks
of gaming (cf. Schmierbach et al., 2011, p. 312).
Since the self–other discrepancy is a rather universal finding in communication
studies, it is of particular interest as to which particularities or moderating variables
can be observed in the context of video games. Research suggests that individual
video game use, in particular, and familiarity with video games appear to affect per-
ceptions. For example, Schmierbach, Boyle, Xu, and McLeod (2011) found that
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third-person perception is weaker among heavy players because they acknowledge
stronger effects on themselves and simultaneously estimate lesser effects on other
people. Boyle, McLeod, and Rojas (2008), on the other hand, found that people who
play a lot of video games estimate lesser effects on themselves. Given these contra-
dictory findings, we pose the following research question:
Research Question 4: What influence does individual video game use have
on judgments about the negative effects of playing video games?
Up to now, we focused only on the perceptual component of the third-person
effect—the third-person perception—and not on the behavioral component that is
the actual third-person effect. Research has repeatedly shown that individuals’ per-
ceptions of media effects on others have the power to influence support for restric-
tive policies (e.g., Cohen & Weimann, 2008; Gunther, 1995; Hoffner et al., 1999).
Not surprisingly, this linkage was also observed within the domain of video games
(cf. Boyle et al., 2008; Ivory & Kalyanaraman, 2009; Schmierbach et al., 2011;
Schmierbach et al., 2012). However, other factors, such as gender or personal rele-
vance, are also potential explanatory variables. For example, the analysis of
Schmierbach, Xu, and Boyle (2012) showed that individual video game use influ-
ences support for gaming restrictions, with gamers being much less supportive of
restrictive policies than nongamers. Once again, we therefore consider a deliberately
broad research question:
Research Question 5: Which factors influence support for video game
regulation?
Framing and Third-Person Perceptions
To date, onlya few researchers have paid attention to the relationship between framing
and third-person perceptions. Joslyn (2003) was one of the first to address this short-
coming, both theoretically and empirically.His results show that perceptual judgments
were indeed sensitive to the framing of an issue, although change occurred mainly in
participants’ judgments about their own susceptibility to media effects. Investigating
framing of the Lewinsky scandal, Joslyn found that the self was judged as less influ-
enced when frames emphasized sexual cues as opposed to legal cues. Therefore, he
draws attention to the importance of not only investigating the third-person perceptual
gap but also of the single effect estimates to differentiate between changes in the influ-
ence on oneself and on others (Joslyn, 2003, pp. 840–841).
In the context of valence frames, one might expect that framing gaming in a pos-
itive way would have a stronger effect on estimations of the positive effects on one-
self, while the occurrence of such positive effects on others should be judged as less
likely. On the other hand, framing gaming in a negative way should have a stronger
effect on estimations of the negative effects on others. This can be explained by the
concept of unrealistic optimism, which predicts that media effects described in a
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negative way are likely to produce larger third-person perceptions, since individuals
want to preserve a positive image of the self (cf. Gunther & Mundy, 1993).
Recently, Schweisberger, Billinson, and Chock (2014) examined whether fram-
ing a news story with positive or negative comments in a Facebook environment
affects third-person perceptions. Assuming that the negative framing of news stories
could contribute to the perceptions of social undesirability, the authors tested
whether negative comments would decrease perceived effects on self and increase
third-person perceptions. Although the results point to the presumed direction, the
differences were not significant. Closer to the approach outlined in our study, Boyle,
Schmierbach, and McLeod (2013) investigated whether exposure to news content
about the effects of video games has an impact on perceptual judgments. By present-
ing participants with a news story that manipulated the target (children vs. college
students) and the valence of effects (positive vs. negative), they examined whether
those different scopes in the coverage affect the direction and extent of third-person
perceptions. Since no significant effects of the story manipulations were found, the
authors concluded that—at least single and short term—exposure to news coverage
has no impact on the perceptions of effects on self or others. Nevertheless, the avail-
able data are still rather insufficient, and the connection between framing and third-
person perceptions certainly requires more scholarly attention. We therefore state
the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3: Participants who read a news story with a risk frame will per-
ceive a bigger gap between self and others than participants who read a news
story with an opportunity frame.
Method
Design and Procedure
To investigate the effects of framing gaming as risk, opportunity, or in different
balanced ways, the study used a two-factor (2 2), posttest only and a between-
subjects experimental design with random assignment to one of the overall four con-
ditions. These conditions represented specific kinds of news coverage and framed
gaming as risk or opportunity on the journalistic level (Factor I) and as risk or oppor-
tunity on the level of a corresponding expert statement (Factor II).
The experimental stimulus material consisted of an article that was supposedly
published on a highly frequented German news website (Spiegel Online) and dealt
with the positive and/or negative effects of gaming (see Figure 1). To increase the
external validity of the study and to address typical shortcomings of framing studies,
the stimulus material was produced on the basis of an explorative content analysis.
This analysis was conducted for news articles that could be found under key words
related to video game(r)s, dealt with the effects of games, and were published
between 2008 and 2013 in three nationwide German newspapers and their associated
online editions. The analysis led to the identification of two dominant frames,
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Figure 1. Example for stimulus material.
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namely, the opportunity frame and the risk frame. While the first one focuses on the
benefits of video games and their ability to enhance problem-solving skills, strategic
thinking, or promoting health and well-being, the second one emphasizes the risks of
gaming; here, games are seen as negatively affecting their players by increasing
aggressive behavior, leading to social exclusion or to a loss of reality. In the ana-
lyzed articles, the opportunities and risks of gaming are closely linked to specific
values, with the risk frame mostly emphasizing the absence of desirable values and
the opportunity perspective accentuating their facilitation. Following Schwartz
(1994) and his theory of basic human values, the values most frequently addressed
were related to the categories achievement and benevolence. While achievement val-
ues emphasize the demonstration of capability and competence, benevolence values
have a more social character and emphasize concern for others’ well-being and
sociability.
In fact, most of the articles in our analysis assumed a clear direction and solely
focused on either the risks or the opportunities of games. Nevertheless, some of the
articles included more balanced stories. In these cases, journalists tried to discuss
video games and their effects from both perspectives while evaluating the pros and
cons. Our stimulus material thus reflects actual German media coverage of video
games.
In all four versions, the headline and subheadline, as well as the first paragraph
and illustrating photo, were identical. The angle of the article was the upcoming
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the general discussions about gaming sur-
rounding the convention. The main part of the articles consisted of the journalistic
evaluation (four paragraphs), descriptions of gaming either as a risk or opportunity,
and simultaneously associating them with specific values. More precisely, the arti-
cles varied in terms of how much they emphasized achievement (competence, intel-
ligence, etc.) and benevolence (empathy, sociability, etc.) values. This key part was
complemented by the expert evaluation (one paragraph), in which an accounted
gaming expert underlined the consequences of gaming in terms of either risk or
opportunity. Therefore, in two versions, journalistic and expert evaluations are con-
cordant while, in the other two versions, the expert argues contrary to the author,
resulting in a more balanced coverage.
Table 1 shows the four experimental conditions that result from the combination
of journalistic and expert evaluations as well as how benevolence and achievement
values were addressed in the respective articles. While a positive addressing means
that the respective value is shown to be facilitated by using games, a negative
addressing means that the respective value is shown to be vanishing or decreasing
by using games.
Participants/Sample
A total of 360 German university students in different fields of studies (social and
technical sciences) participated in the experiment, with almost equal numbers in all
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four conditions. The experiment was described as a study of current online news
coverage. Participants were told that they would view a print version of an article
that had recently appeared on Spiegel Online. They were asked to read the article
and to answer some questions about the article itself as well as about the covered
issue. Demographic characteristics of the sample included age (M¼22.3, SD ¼
3.2), gender (female ¼58.6%), and video game use (gamers ¼56.7%; see last para-
graph in the Measures section for definition).
Measures
Evaluation of video game players. Participants were asked to evaluate a list of 10 con-
trastive adjectives and rate each on a 5-point semantic differential. For the selection
of items, we considered the study of Kowert, Griffith, and Oldmeadow (2013) on the
stereotypes of online gamers as well as tendencies detected in our content analysis.
A mix of different traits (e.g., intelligence, aggressiveness, sociability, competence,
and empathy) was included in the scale. After testing for reliability, 9 of the 10 items
were included in the final index (Cronbach’s a¼.78; M¼2.86, SD ¼0.50).
Evaluation of consequences of video games. The perceived consequences of video
games were measured by focusing on both positive and negative effects of games
(similar to Schmierbach et al., 2011). The measures for both effects included 5 items.
For positive effects, participants indicated on a 5-point Likert-type scale the extent
to which games are responsible for improving hand-eye coordination and respon-
siveness, developing problem-solving skills, increasing performance in school or
in a job, and social competence (Cronbach’s a¼.71; M¼3.11, SD ¼0.61). Neg-
ative effects included neglecting social contacts, seeing violence as an effective
means of problem solving, experiencing a tendency toward health problems,
decreasing empathy, and having a high addictive potential (Cronbach’s a¼.76;
M¼3.39, SD ¼0.77). Participants were also asked to estimate the percentage of
Table 1. Valence of Frame Versions and Addressing of Benevolence and Achievement
Values.
Valence of Journalistic Evaluation
Valence of expert
evaluation þ
þOpportunity frame
Benevolence (only
indirectly addressed)
Achievement (positive)
Risk-opportunity frame
Benevolence (negative)
Achievement
(positive/negative)
Opportunity-risk frame
Benevolence (negative)
Achievement (positive/negative)
Risk frame
Benevolence (negative)
Achievement (negative)
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people suffering from video game addiction (M¼27.3%,SD ¼21.6%), assuming
that this estimation would vary depending on frame valence.
Applicability of achievement and benevolence values. We computed two indices to mea-
sure to what extent participants ascribed attributes connected with achievement and
benevolence values to gamers. For both achievement and benevolence values,
4 items were used to form an index. Similar to Schwartz (1994), we focused on intel-
ligence, competence, capability, and problem-solving skills to assess the applicabil-
ity of achievement values (5-point scale from 1 [strongly disagree]to5[strongly
agree]; Cronbach’s a¼.67; M¼3.03, SD ¼0.60). The applicability of benevolence
values was measured on the same scale with items focusing on sociability, empathy,
compassion, and social competence (Cronbach’s a¼.64; M¼2.61, SD ¼0.65).
Effects of video games on self and others. Perceptions of the extent of negative influ-
ence of game playing were measured following the operationalization used in Schar-
rer and Leone’s (2006) study by asking participants: ‘‘Please assess on a scale from
1 to 5 how much the following persons or group of persons are affected by potential
negative impacts of video games.’’ Because we expected that evaluations would
vary depending on the comparison group, participants were asked to evaluate the
effect on themselves (M¼1.65, SD ¼0.89), as well as on their fellow students
(M¼2.10, SD ¼0.86), children (up to 14; M¼3.48, SD ¼0.99), adolescents
(14–18; M¼3.65, SD ¼0.93), and adults over 40 (M¼1.90, SD ¼0.81; similar
to Schmierbach et al., 2011; Schmierbach et al., 2012).
Support for video game regulation. Seven items were used to form an index for this con-
cept, deriving from the operationalization of previous studies focusing on third-person
effects (e.g., Boyle et al., 2008; Schmierbach et al., 2011; Schmierbach et al., 2012;
Wu & Koo, 2001); for example, ‘‘The industry should stop making violent video
games’’ or ‘‘The government has more important things to do than to regulate video
games.’’ Responses again were measured from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly
agree) and combined in an index (Cronbach’s a¼.79; M¼2.76, SD ¼0.84).
Moderator of effects: Individual video game use. Individual video game use was assessed
by asking participants questions about how much time they devote to playing games in
an average week as well as about the use ofspecific genres. While open-ended questions
were used to ask about the general frequency of video gameplay, the use of nine selected
genres (ranging from casual to shooter games) was measured on a 5-point scale from
1([almost]daily)to5(never). For the following analysis, we mostly focused on com-
paring gamers and nongamers, because the distribution in the sample generally did not
allow the use of more differentiated measurements. Gamers are all participants who
either reported playing games more than 0 min per weekor who chose the option ‘‘sev-
eral times per month’’ (or higher) for at least one of the nine genres (57%of partici-
pants). All other participants were defined as nongamers (43%of participants).
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Results
Even though this aspect is not an explicit part of the hypotheses, it seems worthwhile
to look at differences in video game use between male and female participants first.
Generally, the results of other studies—showing a dominance of male gamers—also
reflect the observations in our sample. While the surveyed women indicated that
they used games only about 42 min per week (M¼42.95, SD ¼102.39), the sur-
veyed men played video games more than 4 hr in the same time span (M¼
251.01, SD ¼392.70). Furthermore, women and men differ significantly in their use
of eight of the nine game genres. The biggest difference concerns the usage of shoo-
ter games, t(350) ¼9.334, p< .001, which were almost exclusively used by the male
participants. The only exception of that pattern is the genre ‘‘casual games,’’ which
is used by both sexes to a nearly identical extent, t(348) ¼0.114, p¼.91. Neverthe-
less, it must be noted that the game playing rate is generally low in our sample—only
25%of the participants played video games for 2 hr or more per week—which
should be kept in mind when interpreting the following results.
The first Hypotheses (1a–1e) were tested using t-test procedures at a significant
level of 5%. Hypotheses 1a and 1b, predicting that participants who read a news
story with an opportunity frame will more positively perceive video game players
and attribute more positive effects to video games than those who read a news story
with a risk frame, were supported.
A significant mean difference, t(176) ¼2.339, p< .05, in perceptions of video
game players between participants in the opportunity condition (M¼2.98, SD ¼
0.48) and in the risk condition (M¼2.81, SD ¼0.48) was observed. The same
applies to evaluations of the consequences of video games. Participants who were
exposed to an opportunity frame (M¼3.34, SD ¼0.60) attributed more positive
effects to video games than those who were exposed to a risk frame (M¼2.84,
SD ¼0.58). Again, the mean difference was in the expected direction and was sta-
tistically significant, t(178) ¼5.585, p< .001). Regarding the other dependent vari-
ables (attribution of negative video game effects, estimation of people suffering
from video game addiction, and support for video game regulation), the differences
between experimental groups were also in the expected direction but not statistically
significant. Thus, the data do not support Hypotheses 1c, 1d, and 1e.
Research Question 1 addressed the framing effects of different balanced news
stories. Consequently, in addition to the consonant positive (opportunity frame) and
negative (risk frame) articles, we investigated the influence of articles that combined
a positive opportunity frame on the journalistic level with a negative risk frame on
the level of a corresponding expert statement (opportunity-risk frame) and vice versa
(risk-opportunity frame). To test this research question, we performed an analysis of
variance (ANOVA) with the four frames as factors and with the dependent variables
tested earlier (see Table 2).
For attribution of positive effects, the ANOVA showed overall significant mean differ-
ences between the groups, F(3, 353) ¼11.338, p< .001. A Ryan-Einot-Gabriel-Welsch
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Table 2. Evaluations of Video Game(r)s in Different Groups (by Frame Version).
Variable Opportunity Opportunity-Risk Risk-Opportunity Risk F
Overall n¼89–90 n¼89–90 n¼89–90 n¼89–90
Characteristics of video game players
1
(M) 2.98 (0.48) 2.87 (0.50) 2.79 (0.51) 2.81 (0.48) 2.619
Positive effects of games
2
(M) 3.34
a
(0.60) 3.19
ab
(0.54) 3.06
b
(0.63) 2.84
c
(0.58) 11.338***
Negative effects of games
2
(M) 3.29 (0.78) 3.39 (0.80) 3.54 (0.86) 3.34 (0.62) 1.754
Estimations of people suffering from game addiction (in %) 23.5 (19.76) 25.2 (22.51) 30.9 (20.60) 29.6 (22.89) 2.354
Support for video game regulation
3
(M) 2.65 (0.86) 2.69 (0.78) 2.93 (0.93) 2.77 (0.76) 2.011
Nongamers n ¼36 n¼39 n¼36–37 n¼43
Characteristics of video game players
1
(M) 2.83
a
(0.43) 2.68
ab
(0.49) 2.46
b
(0.37) 2.63
ab
(0.41) 4.454**
Positive effects of games
2
(M) 3.13
a
(0.56) 3.02
ab
(0.49) 2.83
bc
(0.52) 2.58
c
(0.58) 7.815***
Negative effects of games
2
(M) 3.45
a
(0.78) 3.62
ab
(0.74) 3.95
b
(0.62) 3.57
a
(0.62) 3.589*
Estimations of people suffering from game addiction (in %) 30.2 (24.70) 29.3 (25.22) 37.7 (21.57) 29.9 (24.23) 1.021
Support for video game regulation
3
(M) 3.03
a
(0.85) 2.99
a
(0.67) 3.49
b
(0.74) 3.00
a
(0.69) 4.115**
Gamers n ¼53–54 n¼50–51 n¼50–51 n¼46–47
Characteristics of video game players
1
(M) 3.08 (0.48) 3.02 (0.47) 3.02 (0.48) 2.98 (0.48) .371
Positive effects of games
2
(M) 3.47
a
(0.60) 3.33
ab
(0.54) 3.24
ab
(0.65) 3.08
b
(0.46) 4.189**
Negative effects of games
2
(M) 3.18 (0.77) 3.21 (0.81) 3.24 (0.90) 3.13 (0.55) .174
Estimations of people suffering from game addiction (in %) 19.0
a
(14.07) 22.0
ab
(19.76) 26.0
ab
(18.56) 29.3
b
(21.83) 2.930*
Support for video game regulation
3
(M) 2.39 (0.77) 2.47 (0.79) 2.52 (0.85) 2.56 (0.77) .451
Note. Cell entries are mean scores of variables, standard deviations in parentheses. Different superscripts indicate significant between condition differences based
on Ryan (REGWQ) post-hoc procedures (p< .05).
1
Index based on 9 items; scale from 1 to 5, the higher the value, the higher the amount of positive characteristics (a¼.78).
2
Index based on 5 items; scale from
1 to 5, the higher the value, the higher the degree of agreement (a
Positive
¼.71; a
Negative
¼.76).
3
Index based on 7 items; scale from 1 to 5, the higher the value,
the higher the support for video game regulation (a¼.79).
*p< .05. **p< .01. ***p< .001.
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Q multiple comparison test (REGWQ) post hoc procedure revealed three subsets, illustrat-
ing significant differences between participants in the opportunity, risk-opportunity, and
risk condition. Again, the differences were as expected considering the frame valences, with
the risk condition producing the least positive evaluations (M¼2.84, SD ¼0.58), followed
by the risk-opportunity (M¼3.06, SD ¼0.63) and opportunity-risk condition (M¼3.19,
SD ¼0.54), and, finally, the opportunity condition (M¼3.34, SD ¼0.60). Although
not reaching statistical significance, a similar pattern could be observed for perceptions
of video game players as well as for estimations of people suffering from video game
addiction. The results therefore indicate that balanced news stories also lead to more
balanced, less polarized evaluations.
Research Question 2 focused on the power of media frames in influencing the
applicability of certain values. First of all, and consistent with expectations, the anal-
ysis shows that achievement values are generally perceived as more applicable to
game(r)s than benevolence values, M
Achievement
¼3.03 (0.60), M
Benevolence
¼2.61
(0.65); t(356) ¼12.803, p< .001. Since benevolence values are addressed negatively
in three of the four versions(see Table 1), the results thus indicate that the frames indeed
had an influence on the applicability of the values. This becomes all the more apparent
when comparing differences depending on the frame valence. There are larger differ-
ences between the four frame conditions for achievement values, F
Achievement
(3,
354) ¼5.034, p<.01;F
Benevolence
(3, 353) ¼2.956, p< .05. Furthermore, the
direction of results indicates that the different intensities and valences in which
values are addressed influenced participants’ perceptions of their applicability
(see Table 3).
Building on the research conducted on issue importance, Research Question 3
looked at the influence individual video game use has on framing effects. Prelimi-
nary analysis revealed that gamers and nongamers—regardless of frames—signifi-
cantly differed in their perceptions of video game(r)s. As might be expected,
gamers generally perceived video game players as more positive, attributed more
Table 3. Applicability of Achievement and Benevolence Values (by Frame Version).
Variable Opportunity
Opportunity-
Risk
Risk-
Opportunity Risk F
Overall n¼89–90 n¼89–90 n¼89–90 n¼89–90
Achievement
1
(M) 3.20
a
(0.60)
3.10
ac
(0.63)
2.95
bc
(0.61)
2.89
b
(0.53)
5.034**
Benevolence
2
(M) 2.76
a
(0.72)
2.59
ab
(0.67)
2.48
b
(0.63)
2.59
ab
(0.54)
2.956*
Note. Cell entries are mean scores of variables, standard deviations in parentheses. Different superscripts
indicate significant between condition differences based on Ryan (REGWQ) post-hoc procedures (p<.05).
1
Index based on 4 items; scale from 1 to 5, the higher the value, the more participants perceive the value
to be applicable to gamers (a¼.67).
2
Index based on 4 items; scale from 1 to 5, the higher the value, the
more participants perceive the value to be applicable to gamers (a¼.64).
*p< .05. **p< .01. ***p< .001.
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positive and less negative effects to video games, thought that fewer people suffer
from video game addiction, and supported video game regulation less.
1
For both
gamers and nongamers, the frames affected the attribution of positive video game
effects, with nongamers showing larger differences between the four frame condi-
tions than gamers, F
Nongamers
(3, 151) ¼7.815, p< .001; F
Gamers
(3, 199) ¼4.189,
p< .001. Beyond that, gamers were affected by frames only in their estimations
of people suffering from video game addiction, while nongamers seemed consider-
ably more susceptible to framing effects (see Table 2). In particular, for nongamers,
we found significant mean differences between the groups for four of the five depen-
dent variables, with the direction of the results indicating influence by the applied
frames. Especially the balanced risk-opportunity frame led nongamers to (more)
negative evaluations, with this frame generally producing even stronger effects than
the ideal-typical risk frame. Considering these results, it is reasonable to assume that
nongamers, in fact, are more prone to media portrayals of gaming than gamers.
The next set of hypotheses and research questions focused on third-person per-
ceptions. Hypothesis 2 predicted that participants will perceive children, adoles-
cents, their fellow students, and adults over 40 as more affected by the negative
effects of video games than themselves.
As shown in Table 4, our findings are consistent with these predictions. Partici-
pants saw themselves as being significantly less affected than all four comparison
groups. Notably, the strongest impact is seen for adolescents (M¼3.65, SD ¼
0.93), followed by children (M¼3.48, SD ¼0.99), fellow students (M¼2.10,
SD ¼0.87), adults over 40 (M¼1.91, SD ¼0.81), and, finally, the participants
(M¼1.66, SD ¼0.89). As expected in the context of Research Question 4, individual
videogameusehadaninfluenceonthird-person perceptions. Gamers perceived
themselves as more affected by negative video game effects than nongamers,
M
Nongamers
¼1.27 (0.61), M
Gamers
¼1.95 (0.96); t(354) ¼8.032, p< .001,
and furthermore saw a smaller gap between the negative effects on themselves
and on others. In addition, gamers perceived themselves as more negatively
Table 4. Perceived Negative Effects of Video Games.
Perceived Negative Effects on ...
Group Self Fellow Students Children Adolescents Adults Over 40
Overall 1.66
a
(0.89) 2.10
b
(0.87) 3.48
c
(0.99) 3.65
d
(0.93) 1.91
e
(0.81)
Nongamers 1.27
a
(0.61) 1.99
b
(0.80) 3.47
c
(0.97) 3.87
d
(0.86) 1.96
b
(0.83)
Gamers 1.95
a
(0.96) 2.19
b
(0.90) 3.48
c
(1.00) 3.48
c
(0.94) 1.86
a
(0.79)
Note. Numbers displayed in the table are mean scores of perceived negative effects of video games, stan-
dard deviations in parentheses. In each row, values not sharing a superscripts are significantly different
based on Sidak post hoc procedures (p< .05).
n
Overall
¼351; F(Greenhouse–Geisser) ¼505.029. p< .001. n
Nongamers
¼153; F(Greenhouse–Geisser)
¼364.813, p< .001. n
Gamers
¼198; F(Greenhouse–Geisser) ¼216.759, p< .001.
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affected by video games compared with adults over 40, thus showing no tradi-
tional third-person perception for this comparison group. Consequently, individ-
ual video game use indeed altered estimations of negative effects and third-
person perceptions.
To address Research Question 5 and evaluate which factors influence support for
video game regulation, we employed hierarchical regression to test the relationship
between four theoretically deduced independent variables (gender, game use, frame
valence, and third-person perceptual gap) and support for regulatory measures. Gen-
der and game use (gamer vs. nongamer) were included in the first block, whereas
frame valence and perceptual gap were added in the second block.
The results revealed several influences on individuals’ support for video game
regulations. Not surprisingly, gamers are much less supportive of regulatory mea-
sures, b¼.201, t(346) ¼3.777, p< .001, and males are generally not inclined
to support restrictions, b¼.218, t(346) ¼4.393, p< .001. Consistent with prior
research, the gap between perceived effects on self and others is also a significant
predictor of support for censorship, b¼.247, t(346) ¼4.821, p< .001,
while the frame valence had no significant nor meaningful influence, b¼.078,
t(346) ¼1.571, p¼.117. Overall, the model explains 25.7%variance of support for
video game regulation, revealing that traits of respondents, such as gender and indi-
vidual video game use as well as the third-person perceptual gap, are relevant factors
in the context of support for game censorship and restrictions, R
2
¼.257, F(4, 346)
¼29.849, p< .001.
Finally, to explore the influence of media coverage on third-person perceptions,
we investigated whether the frames affect the occurrence and extent of third-person
perceptions. Hypothesis 3 proposed that participants who read a news story with a
risk frame will perceive a bigger gap between self and others than participants who
read a news story with an opportunity frame.
The data do not lend support for this hypothesis. For all comparison groups, there
were no significant mean differences in third-person perceptions regarding negative
effects. Although for comparisons with fellow students, M
Opportunity
¼.31 (0.85),
M
Risk
¼.50 (0.88), t(177) ¼1.438, p¼.15; children, M
Opportunity
¼1.61 (1.29),
M
Risk
¼1.78 (1.23), t(176) ¼0.867, p¼.39; and adolescents, M
Opportunity
¼
1.79 (1.25), M
Risk
¼2.03 (1.28), t(177) ¼1.308, p¼.19, the results point in the
expected direction, frames generally do not seem to influence third-person percep-
tions regarding negative video game effects. This finding is, however, consistent
with observations regarding Hypothesis 1c, indicating no significant mean differ-
ences in attributions of negative game effects between the two groups.
Discussion
This study offers insights into valence framing by examining it in the context of the
controversial topic of the effects of video games. First, the results of our experiment
indicate that framing gaming in terms of risk, opportunity, or in different balanced
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ways indeed had an effect on participants’ attitudes toward games, the perceptions of
their users, and the perceived consequences of playing games. Individuals were not
only affected by the ideal-typical risk and opportunity frames but also by more
balanced articles that combined both assessments. If gaming was framed as an
opportunity, emphasizing the benefits of playing video games, participants more
positively perceived video game players and attributed more positive effects to video
games. This finding is in line with previous research on framing effects, indicating
an impact of differently valenced media portrayals on peoples’ evaluations (e.g., de
Vreese & Boomgaarden, 2003; Lecheler & de Vreese, 2011; Nelson, Clawson, &
Oxley, 1997; Schuck & de Vreese, 2006). Those framing effects may—at least par-
tially—be a result of increasing the applicability or relevance of certain values asso-
ciated with the different frames. In our experiment, achievement and benevolence
values were addressed differently in news stories, and the results indicate that
valence and intensity of the addressing indeed influenced to what extent participants
perceived the value to be applicable to game(r)s.
Furthermore, we found different effects among gamers and nongamers. Nonga-
mers were generally more affected by the deployed media frames, while gamers
were susceptible only to framing effects regarding certain evaluations. Despite gen-
erally showing more positive evaluations of games and their users, gamers attributed
even more positive effects to video games after reading a positive article. This may
be explained by the concept of unrealistic optimism, indicating that people are more
inclined to admit to positive effects on themselves when it comes to desirable con-
sequences (cf. Gunther & Mundy, 1993). Additionally, because people who regu-
larly play games are likely to relate themselves to the gamer population, they may
have been especially susceptible to those depictions. Thus, our results confirm those
of earlier framing studies showing that individual issue importance is a crucial factor
in the process of framing (cf. Lecheler et al., 2009).
Although this study focused mainly on considering how media frames influence
(third-person) perceptions, we also took a general look at third-person perceptual judg-
ments. Our results verify the findings from previous studies showing that third-person
perceptions also apply to video games (e.g., Boyle et al., 2008; Ivory & Kalyanaraman,
2009; Scharrer & Leone, 2006; Schmierbach et al., 2011; Schmierbach et al., 2012;
Zhong, 2009). More precisely, we found that participants saw themselves as signifi-
cantly less affected than all comparison groups. The gap increased from adults over
40, to fellow students, children, and adolescents. Because adolescents and children are
portrayed as the primary target group of video games and are most often the focus of
debates about the risks of gaming, our results furthermore provide evidence for the tar-
get corollary (cf. Meirick, 2005).This concept suggests thateffects estimates for others
are primarily based on perceived exposure. Of course, the assumption of a target corol-
lary implies that news media—and popular culture media—had an effect in the past and
that the portrayal of the young generation as the main target audience for games, as well
as the main target of (negative) effects and government regulation, influenced partici-
pants’ perceptions prior to the experiment. As Schmierbach and colleagues (2011)
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speculate, perceived vulnerability may also play a key role. According to the authors,
people basetheir estimations not only on perceived exposure of the target group but also
on assumptions about their personal weaknesses, social environments, and orientation
toward the content. Similar to framing effects, third-person perceptions were deter-
mined by individual video game use. Like Schmierbach and colleagues (2011), our
results show that gamers show a smaller perceptual gap between the negative effects
on themselves and on others and generally perceived themselves as more affected by
negative video game effects than nongamers. This suggests that not only the estimated
effects on others but also the estimated effects on oneself seem to be driven by perceived
exposure. Knowing about their own use, gamers obviously seem to feel ‘‘closer’’ to the
groups that are perceived as most affected.
Focusing on the influence of media coverage on third-person perceptions, we also
investigated whether the frames affected the occurrence and extent of third-person
perceptions. Again, building on the concept of unrealistic optimism, we assumed
that the self would be judged as less influenced when frames emphasized the nega-
tive effects of gaming (risk frame) and, at the same time, that others are seen as more
influenced. Although for comparisons with fellow students, children, and adoles-
cents, the results pointed in the expected direction and the data did not lend support
for this hypothesis. Thus, frames generally did not seem to influence third-person
perceptions regarding negative video game effects (for similar results, see Boyle,
Schmierbach, & McLeod, 2013; Schweisberger, Billinson, & Chock, 2014).
Finally, we investigated which factors influence individual support for video
game regulation. As suggested by prior research (cf. Boyle et al., 2008; Ivory &
Kalyanaraman, 2009; Schmierbach et al., 2011; Schmierbach et al., 2012), third-
person perceptions indeed were a significant predictor of support for regulatory mea-
sures, but gender and game use also had an influence on participants’ willingness to
support video game regulation. The valence of the frames, on the other hand, was not
able to increase the explanatory power of the regression model, indicating that more
or less stable traits and perceptions of respondents are relevant factors in the context
of support for game censorship and restrictions.
Limitations and Future Research
Although using student subjects is not a problem inherent in experimental research
(cf. Druckman & Kam, 2011), employing a population other than students would be
valuable. Presumably, the focus on student participants leads to an underestimation
rather than to an overestimation of what framing effects would be found in the gen-
eral population. This is due to the fact that students (despite individual differences),
compared to other segments of the population, are closer to the topic of video games
and thus are likely to perceive video games as more relevant. In fact, in Germany, the
young generation is the largest user group of digital games (IfD Allensbach, 2013).
Moreover, increasing the number of gamers in the sample would allow for more ela-
borated statistical analyses of the moderating role of individual video game use on
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both framing and third-person perceptions. The distribution of gamers in our sample
did not allow for differentiation between low-level, medium-level, and high-level
players or between users of different video game genres. Future research should
address this shortcoming and investigate, for example, if perceptions of ‘‘casual’
and ‘‘hardcore’’ gamers vary even more than those of our broadly defined nonga-
mers and gamers.
To fully explore the relationship between framing and third-person perceptions,
positive media effects should be investigated instead of just focusing on the negative
ones. Although the concept of unrealistic optimism suggests that framing gaming in
a positive way will have a stronger effect on estimations of positive effects on one-
self, we were not able to test this specific hypothesis.
Finally, like most studies investigating framing effects, we relied on a one-shot
experimental setting that tested the effects immediately after exposure to the sti-
mulus. Although research by Tewksbury, Jones, Peske, Raymond, and Vig
(2000), as well as that by Lecheler and de Vreese (2011), indicates that framing
effects are ‘‘surprisingly resistant’’ (Lecheler & de Vreese, 2011, p. 975), it is not
possible to draw inferences about the actual duration of effects. A related issue
concerns the external validity of the experiment. The participants of our study were
presented with only one news article and ‘‘forced’’ to read it. Outside the experi-
mental setting, people are able to select their own sources and can choose whether
ornottoreadanarticle.
Conclusion
The results of this study show that framing gaming in the mass media has the potential
to alter the formation of public opinion. Based on our findings, one could assume that
attitudes toward games and gamers will shift to another direction if certain frames
receive more or less emphasis in media coverage of video games. This finding is of
considerable interest and has a number of public policy implications. As a recent
example, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, the
discovery of violent video games in the home of the culprit reopened media discus-
sions about the alleged connection between gaming and real-world violence. Shortly
after that, Senator Jay Rockefeller emphasized the dangers of gaming and demanded
further regulation of the video game industry. Keeping our results in mind, media cov-
erage might have helped to increase the plausibility of his demands. In Germany—the
country subject to this investigation—media coverage about video games has also
played, and certainly still plays, a crucial role in peoples’ perceptions of the appropri-
ateness of censorship or comparable government regulations. In contrast to most other
Western countries, Germany has a very strict policy regarding (violent) video games,
which often leads to heavy cutting, or even the banning, of games. The persistent
emphasis of negative outcomes in the media may lead people to perceive games as
a threat and thus may foster the approval of even tighter restrictions. Because of the
profound political implications, framing gaming certainly matters.
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Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.
Note
1. The mean differences for all dependent variables were statistically significant. Gamers
(M¼3.02, SD ¼0.48) perceived video game players more positive than nongamers,
M¼2.65, SD ¼0.44; t(353) ¼7.659, p< .001. They attributed more positive,
M
Gamers
¼3.29, SD ¼0.58; M
Nongamers
¼2.88, SD ¼0.58; t(356) ¼6.599, p< .001, and
less negative effects, M
Gamers
¼3.19, SD ¼0.77; M
Nongamers
¼3.64, SD ¼0.71;
t(355) ¼5.722, p< .001, to video games. Furthermore, gamers thought that less people
suffer from video game addiction, M
Gamers
¼23.9%,SD ¼18.90; M
Nongamers
¼31.6%,
SD ¼24.01; t(350) ¼3.288, p< .01, and supported video game regulation less, M
Gamers
¼
2.48, SD ¼0.79; M
Nongamers
¼3.12, SD ¼0.76; t(355) ¼7.739, p< .001.
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Author Biographies
Anna Sophie Ku¨ mpel is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Communication Studies and
Media Research at LMU Munich (LMU). Her primary research interests are media effects,
online communication, and digital media.
Alexander Haas is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Communication Studies
and Media Research at LMU Munich (LMU). He received his PhD in communication science
from the LMU Munich in 2012 with a dissertation on interpersonal communication and media
effects. His primary research interests are political (online) communication, interpersonal
communication, and credibility.
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... Julkisessa keskustelussa pelaaminen kehystetään usein selkeästi joko hyödylliseksi tai haitalliseksi ilmiöksi (Kümpel & Haas 2016). ...
... Erilaisilla pelaamiseen liittyvillä kiistoilla on huomattava merkitys nuorten pelaamista käsiteltäessä. Tutkimustulokset ja niiden tulkinnat ohjaavat yhteiskunnallisia linjauksia kuten kansallisia terveyssuosituksia, sekä välillisesti median kautta kotikasvatusta (Madill 2011;Kümpel & Haas 2016;Blum-Ross & Livingstone 2018). Tällaisessa tilanteessa tutkijan on erityisen tärkeää pyrkiä kuvaamaan käsittelemäänsä ilmiötä monesta näkökulmasta. ...
... Salokoski 2005;Noppari 2014) tutkimuksessa, ja muotoilujen gaming, video gaming, computer gaming tai digital gaming käyttöä englanninkielisessä (esim. Lemmens, Valkenburg & Peter 2011;Kümpel & Haas 2016;Männikkö 2017) eri alojen tutkimuskirjallisuudessa. ...
Thesis
Digitaalinen pelaaminen on noussut merkittäväksi harrastukseksi ja ilmiöksi etenkin nuorten ja nuorten aikuisten parissa, ja tuonut mukanaan uudenlaisia kasvatuksellisia haasteita. Tutkimuksessa tarkastellaan, millaisia vaatimuksia suomalaisten nuorten (13–30-vuotiaat) pelaamismotiivit, kokemukset pelihaitoista ja pelaamiseen liittyvästä kasvatuksesta asettavat kotien pelikasvatukselle. Tutkimuksessa esitellään pelisivistyksen käsite ja tarkastellaan sen näkökulmasta pelikasvatuksen keskeisiä kysymyksiä. Tutkimuksen kolmessa osatutkimuksessa tarkasteltiin pelaavien nuorten kokemuksia pelaamisestaan: miksi nuoret pelasivat, mitä haittoja nuoret olivat pelaamisen yhteydessä kokeneet ja miten nuoret olivat kokeneet pelaamisen käsittelyn kotikasvatuksessa. Tulokset paljastivat laajan kirjon erilaisia pelaajia, pelikokemuksia ja pelaamisen tapoja. Peleistä saatiin tärkeitä omaehtoisuuden, yhteenkuuluvuuden ja osaamisen kokemuksia, mutta ne olivat myös ajantappamista tylsinä hetkinä. Runsaasti pelaavilla nuorilla esiintyi muita nuoria enemmän pelihaittoja. Pelaamisen määrä ei kuitenkaan ollut luotettava haitallisuuden mittari, vaan pelaamisen motiivit ja vastaajien omat kokemukset liikaa pelaamisesta olivat yhteydessä haittojen esiintymiseen. Nuoret olivat tietoisia pelaamiseen liittyvistä riskeistä ja pyrkivät ehkäisemään niitä. Tulosten perusteella pelaaminen ei vaikuta olevan suomalaisille nuorille merkittävä riski ikäluokkatasolla, mutta yksilötasolla vaikutukset voivat olla hyvinkin suuria, etenkin mikäli pelaaminen kytkeytyy muihin ongelmiin. Nuorten kertomuksissa vanhempien asenteet pelaamista kohtaan vaihtelivat hyvin kielteisistä voimakkaan myönteisiin, mikä näkyi myös kasvatusvalinnoissa. Nuorten pelikasvatusnäkemyksissä korostuivat sekä pelaamisen ymmärtämisen ja myönteisen käsittelyn että haittojen ehkäisyn näkökulmat. Tuloksia peilataan nuorten pelaamisen aiempaan tutkimukseen ja julkiseen keskusteluun. Tulosten perusteella annetaan suosituksia pelisivistykselliseen pelikasvatukseen, jossa huomioidaan sekä nuorten pelaajien että pelaamisen monimuotoisuus ja korostetaan nuorten toimijuutta.
... The way games are framed in the mainstream media is both, an expression of, as well as an influence on the public discourses on games. Particularly the opinions of people with little or no experience with video games are affected by their portrayal in the media (Kümpel & Haas, 2016). As such, a critical examination of how games and their players are portrayed is necessary to understand not only the current role of games within our society, but also the potential trajectories of public opinion. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper presents the first results of a cross-cultural analysis of video game discourses in German, Japanese and US American media. A sample of 551 newspaper articles from the most widely circulated German, Japanese and US newspapers, published between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020, was analyzed in an inductive coding analysis to identify similarities and differences in how video games and their players are portrayed in the mainstream media of these three regions. Seven salient thematic categories were identified. Overall, articles from the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun tend to portray games more negatively (but also more frequently) than the German BILD or the American USA Today. Video game disorder and crimes related to video games are broadly covered in Japan, while articles in the USA Today, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, tend to focus on the benefits games provide as safe spaces for social interaction. Results overall suggest that games have become a “normal” and largely socially accepted part of everyday life in Germany and the US, whereas the Japanese coverage frequently depicts games as a “threat”, in particular to children and adolescents.
... German public perception of video games tends toward the belief that they provide no value to their players (Barbieri & Connell, 2015, p. 38). Since the mid-1970s (Schroeder, 2011), journalistic coverage has presented video games as a controversial issue (Kümpel & Haas, 2016) and (re-) produces gaming stereotypes in various forms (Kowert, Griffiths, & Oldmeadow, 2012). Media bias is a long-debated field in communications (Mangani & Tizzoni, 2018), and stereotyped portrayals of certain groups or issues cannot be neglected (Knoll, Eisend, & Steinhagen, 2011;Zapf, 2009). ...
Article
Games shape our understanding of culture. As market figures demonstrate, video games as digital successors of traditional games are now the economic drivers of the media and entertainment industry and form a part of our daily media habits. Since the mid-1970s, journalistic coverage has presented video games as a controversial issue, an image that has crucially shaped public opinion to this day. In the case of Germany, the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (Rundfunkstaatsvertrag) demands that public broadcast services provide balanced reporting. However, to date, there has been no comprehensive investigation into the media’s coverage of video games. With this in mind, the study at hand seeks to conduct the first explorative and quantitative content analysis of how the German public broadcast channels report on video games. The findings of the study support the assumption of generally biased reporting.
... Rather than framing gaming as primarily positive or negative, an approach common in media 418 discourses of gaming (Kümpel & Haas, 2016), many of the reports from the young respondents 419 were nuanced, and the respondents perceived their understanding of the phenomenon to be more 420 advanced than that of their parents. As data in this study and previous research (Bax, 2016; ...
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Digital gaming is a major part of the current media landscape. Parents employ a variety of practices, such as limiting gaming time and discussing games, when addressing their childrens' gaming. Yet, there is still a notable gaming-related generational gap between adolescents and their parents. In this qualitative study, gaming-related parenting practices and parents' and teenagers' views are examined through a thematic analysis of reports from Finnish, 16-19-year-old, active game players. The results suggest a core tension between elements of protection and understanding. Perceived parental attitudes towards gaming ranged from excessively negative to indifferent to very positive. These attitudes were not static, but instead changed according to life situations and parents' familiarity with gaming. Young game players' perceptions and views were also not uniform. Respondents indicated the need for both parental understanding of games and gaming, and parents' responsibilities in limiting gaming, particularly in the case of younger children. Implications for parenting and future research are discussed.
... (2015) conducted a study in which 360 participants were exposed to a news article about negative effects of a computer game, and presented both the journalistic and expert points of view. The results of Kümpel and Haas (2015) experiment demonstrated that by "framing gaming," media could influence people's attitudes; however, it was still unclear how much impact it actually had and what role individual idiosyncrasies played in the process. Ferguson (2015) suggested that certain personality traits might promote negative beliefs about digital games. ...
Thesis
The purpose of this non-positivistic mixed-methods study is to examine parental attitudes towards the use of computer and video games in their child's classroom and to investigate how the sociocultural contexts in which parents live affect those attitudes. The research was conducted using a mixed-methods triangulation design, including both quantitative and qualitative techniques. First, the study tried to identify which groups of parents were better positioned to accept and support digital game-based learning and which groups were less likely to have a positive attitude toward integrating digital games into the classroom. This study tried to determine if socioeconomic status, age, education level, and/or cultural background could serve as a predictor of parental attitudes toward digital game-based learning. Second, the study tried to recognize how social and cultural contexts in which parents live affect their attitudes toward digital games in the classroom. Many researchers agree that parents play an important role in students' and eventually, educators' attitudes toward gaming. It has been argued that if parents accept a certain non-traditional (digital) learning tool, then their children would most likely have a similar attitude toward it. Parents might be the support system that educators need in order to ensure that students are able to see the educational value of video games and are willing to think critically and draw connections between what they learn in a gaming environment and core subject areas.
... As expected, social, recreation, and skill development motives were not significantly related to psychiatric distress or problematic gaming. Therefore, these three motivations for playing do not appear to lead to negative forms of gaming usage that often feature in the mass media (Ferguson 2007;K€ umpel & Haas 2015). ...
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Previous research has suggested that motives play an important role in several potentially addictive activities including online gaming. The aims of the present study were to (i) examine the mediation effect of different online gaming motives between psychiatric distress and problematic online gaming, and (ii) validate Italian versions of the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire, and the Motives for Online Gaming Questionnaire. Data collection took place online and targeted Italian-speaking online gamers active on popular Italian gaming forums, and/or Italian groups related to online games on social networking sites. The final sample size comprised 327 participants (mean age 23.1 years [SD = 7.0], 83.7% male). The two instruments showed good psychometric properties in the Italian sample. General psychiatric distress had both a significant direct effect on problematic online gaming and a significant indirect effect via two motives: escape and fantasy. Psychiatric symptoms are both directly and indirectly associated with problematic online gaming. Playing online games to escape and to avoid everyday problems appears to be a motivation associated with psychiatric distress and in predicting problematic gaming.
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After Magnavox released its Odyssey video game console in 1972, video games quickly became popular. By 1976, video games looked poised to be a mainstay of Americans’ media environment. Newspaper articles played a role in this process, but that role has not been specifically examined. This thesis examines how newspaper articles covered video games during their commercialization in the United States from 1972 to 1976. It utilizes twelve newspapers over a five-year period to identify video game article frequency, geographical distribution, language use, value judgements, topic coverage, and frame use. The goal is to identify patterns and situate them within their historical context to understand how newspapers covered video games during this period and their role in video games’ popularization. This thesis concludes that newspapers played a clear role in the popularization of video games. Due to their unfamiliarity with video games, journalists over-relied on experts, resulting in coverage that was overwhelmingly positive, uncritical, and hyperbolic. Furthermore, organized interests, taking advantage of social anxieties, used newspapers to shape and control consumers’ attitudes and behaviors regarding video games, whilst also ensuring capitalist control of the video game market.
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Games critics arguably influence the form games take, identities of players, and identities of game developers. However, very little work in Game Studies examines how critical games journalism, games, developers, and independent actors intersect. This article argues that pragmatic sociology of critique, developed by Luc Boltanski, can act as a theoretical framework to aid in understanding these processes of critique. Utilizing a theoretical lens such as this helps us better understand the function of games critique within the video game industry. Applying this framework to a case study of monetization and “loot boxes,” this article emphasizes the role and power of journalistic critique in shaping gaming cultures, and the consumption and production of media more generally.
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