Video games and violence: a content analysis of print advertisements and internet trailers

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University of Alabama Libraries

This study examined the level of violent content in video game advertisements and trailers. For the purposes of this study, violence was defined as an act intended to cause physical harm (Harris, 2004). Violent content was considered to fall into three different categories: weapons, violent actions, and violent words (Scharrer, 2004). The instances of each were coded, including the type of weapons and actions, and compiled to determine violent content along with race and gender of characters, as well as the genre and the rating and the content descriptors designated by the Electronic Software Ratings Board (ESRB). The print video game advertisements were selected from editions from two popular video game magazines published between 2007 and 2010. Each novel advertisement found in a magazine was included in the sample and the corresponding trailer for each game was downloaded from a website dedicated to video games. The resulting sample included 347 print advertisements and 260 trailers (n = 607). The data collected by this content analysis indicated that violence is prevalent in video games, 78.9% of the games included violent content. The genre and rating were each shown to have significant relationships with the number of violent words in the games; however the medium and the number of violent words were not related, indicating that game developers and advertisers rely heavily of exciting images to attract players when creating advertisements. The General Aggression Model, Social Learning Theory, and Cultivation Theory were used as a foundation for this study and indicated the dangers of a media diet that is heavy in violence. These three theories indicated that consuming media riddled with violence leads to an ominous worldview and to aggressive responses to social situation and hostile learned behaviors.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Communication, Multimedia communications, Mass Communications