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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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20

Rethinking Violent Videogame Content

Conceptual Advances and Directions for Future Research

Kenneth A. Lachlan

ABSTRACT

Numerous empirical studies have attempted to quantify the frequency and context of violence in popular videogames. While these studies have proven valuable, they overlook recent research suggesting that videogame content is far more complicated than that found in linear media. In particular, individual user characteristics, varying levels of gameplay, familiarity with the gaming environment, and length of time immersed in the game have been overlooked. But research suggests that these factors will play a critical role in how players use and respond to videogame violence. This chapter synthesizes the videogame content literature with recent behavioral research. It concludes by offering an updated conceptual model of violent content that includes not only the game, but also user and situational variables that may mitigate this content. Suggestions for future content-analytic methods are discussed in light of this conceptual model.

Since the early 2000s, parents, academics, and policymakers have expressed consternation over the nature of violent videogames, voicing concerns regarding the potential for negative effects on both youth and adult game players. Empirical research exploring the content of videogames has suggested that videogames may be rife with unsavory content. These included extensive graphic violence (Smith, Lachlan, & Tamborini, 2003), violence ...

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