Free Press Journal

Can video games trump literature?


New York: Just like books, music or cinema, video games too have the potential to offer players meaningful experiences, not mere fun diversion as commonly perceived, says a new study.

In this study of people’s experiences with video games, players indicated that they not only enjoyed playing games but that they also frequently appreciated them at a deeper, more meaningful level.

“It is certainly true that there are some games that are silly or shallow, but that is the case for almost all forms of entertainment,” said Mary Beth Oliver, distinguished professor in media studies at Pennsylvania State University.

“Our research suggests that contrary to stereotypes, games have the potential to be as meaningful to players as other, more esteemed forms of entertainment such as literature or cinema,” Oliver noted.

These findings should be encouraging to video game developers, who want to invest in producing games that examine more meaningful, poignant or contemplative topics.

Games may also provide players the opportunity to experience valuable situations and emotions that other forms of entertainment may not do as frequently, Oliver said.

“Whereas viewers and readers typically watch characters make decisions in movies and books, many video games allow the player to actually make those choices, resulting in feelings such as guilt or pride,” she noted.

In the study, 512 video game players were assigned to one of two random groups and asked to recall games that were particularly fun or particularly meaningful.

While participants reported that they found both types were fun to play, they said they had more appreciation for the more meaningful games they played.

The study appeared in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.