UK (University of York) University marks launch of new Government guide on video games

The University of York has marked the launch of a new government framework aimed at improving understanding of the impacts of video games at an event in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The new framework aims to help build a stronger evidence base for policymakers, the games industry and players.

The DCMS has published a best-practice framework to guide the next generation of research into video games, in collaboration with academics and industry stakeholders, in response to calls for more top-quality research into the impact of games on individuals and society.

The Video Games Research Framework aims to support researchers to build a stronger evidence base for policymakers, the games industry and players. The report highlights the need to ensure that policymaking is underpinned by the best possible evidence to drive growth in the industry and maximise the positive impacts of games, while reducing the risks of harms.

Dr David Zendle from the University of York’s Department of Computer Science was a key part of the working group that developed the framework and his research is cited as one of two case studies in high-quality video games research.

Booming industry

Dr Zendle said: “The impacts of video games have made media headlines around the world many times over, but often there is insufficient research quality to strongly support the claims that are made.

“As video games are played by more than half of British adults and is a booming creative industry, we need reliable data that demonstrates the impacts that video games can have – both positive and negative – on individuals and society. It is only by doing this that we can discover how to responsibly grow and support video games companies.”

“Research at York for example is gathering data and developing prototypes that show the uses that video games can have in mental health therapies and education, as well as investigating the impact of regulation of games for young people. The framework’s aim is to facilitate high-quality research that can be used to inform policy going forward and best practice in the industry itself.”

Heavy spending

Research cited by the framework includes Dr Zendle’s work on gaming revenue, where he studied spending data from 69 million gamers to investigate whether some games are reliant on very heavy spending amongst a small number of gamers in order to obtain revenue.

The video games industry contributes £2.8 billion to the economy and employs 27,000 people according to data gathered in 2019. As part of the Creative Industries Sector Vision, the Government committed to grow the creative industries by £50 billion, support one million extra jobs and build a pipeline of future talent by 2030. This includes the announcement of a £5 million uplift to the UK Games Fund for UK games studios to develop their intellectual property and attract future investment.

Innovative sector

Announcing the publication of the framework in May, DCMS Minister for the Creative Industries, John Whittingdale, said: “Video games are a booming industry – employing thousands of people and contributing billions to our economy, whilst bringing enjoyment to people in fun and challenging ways.

“This new framework will encourage more research and study in this area so we can better support the opportunities of this highly innovative sector while also protecting players.”