To support the potential growth and development of the video gaming industry, further investigation is needed to fully understand players’ experiences, and the impacts of games on individuals, communities and the economy more widely.
In this sense, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom, in collaboration with academia, research councils and the games industry, is presenting The Video Games Research Framework, which aims to help researchers to build a stronger evidence base for future policymaking.
Video games are played by more than half of British adults and the sector is one of the UK’s fast-growing creative industries, contributing £2.8 billion to the economy and employing 27,000 people in 2019.
The Government wants to maximise potential within the creative industries (of which video games are a key part) with an ambition to grow the sector by an extra £50 billion by 2030; help add a million jobs in this segment by 2030; and deliver a Creative Careers Promise that builds a pipeline of talent into this area of knowledge.
GUIDANCE, ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The guide sets out a number of topics in need of stronger evidence to help academics and industry focus research projects. Priorities recommended by the framework include why people interact with games, their impact on physical and mental health, and the effect of in-game features like spending and advertising on players’ experiences. The framework also suggests other issues, such as the economic potential of the industry and the role of video games in education.
The framework brings together guidance and examples of recommended research practices, including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) principles on research integrity, knowledge sharing and managing conflicts of interest. The document also provides advice and information on data sharing, as academics identified access to industry and player data as a barrier to enabling better research. It outlines researchers’ legal obligations under UK data protection laws and directs users to guidance from expert bodies such as the Information Commissioner’s Office and UKRI on how data should be collected and handled during studies.
Publishing the framework delivers on the Government’s commitment to support better evidence on the impact of video games after the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games found that research in this area is still emerging.
About this issue, John Whittingdale, Minister for the Creative Industries, 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. Today’s plans 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.”
While Professor Tom Rodden, DCMS’ Chief Scientific Advisor, expressed: “The DCMS supports some of the most exciting sectors in the UK. It is my priority to ensure that policymaking in the department is underpinned by the best possible science, research and evidence to drive growth and enrich lives. The Video Games Research Framework aims to facilitate high-quality research in the field of video games, promoting inclusive, transparent and independent practice. I am excited to see how adoption of the framework shapes new research and benefits, not just policymakers in government, but the games industry and everyone who chooses to make video games a part of their lives.”