Harvard Medical School To Survey Developers On Violence

The Harvard Medical School has announced a new survey into game developers and their attitudes to violence in games, following a pilot version in 2005 - we talk to researcher Dorothy Warner about the pilot results and present a link to the
May 16, 2007
The Harvard Medical School has announced a new survey into game developers and their attitudes to violence in games, following a pilot version in 2005. Gamasutra had a chance to talk to researcher Dorothy Warner about the pilot results and present a link to the new survey for game professionals to fill out. Warner, who represents the Center for Mental Health and Media at the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry, noted of the surveys: "We'd... like to emphasize that our goal is to learn about the perspectives of the game development community -- so that we can accurately represent them, without agenda, as we disseminate our research." She then summarized the original research conducted back in 2005, explaining: "A total of 403 participants from around the world completed our survey. This was a pilot version of the survey -- a test run, if you will -- and we anticipated less than 100 responses, so we were thrilled with the reception we received. The top three responses for the purpose of violent content in games were: to make them more fun, to help the plot progress, and to make games sell better. The majority of participants said that they make decisions regarding how violent their games will be based on the rating they wish to obtain -- and a third of participants said that though they have an approximate idea at the beginning of development, they/their companies remain open to changes as the game evolves. Regarding the possible harmful effects that games with violent content may have on children or adolescents, participants were particularly concerned with the exposure that young children (under age 12) could have to violent content, and they were more concerned about violent content that's realistic versus fantasy-based. This seems to mirror the perspectives of parents, based on the results of other studies. Forty percent of participants said that they're satisfied with the game rating process. Suggested changes focused on increased communication between developers, publishers, and ratings boards, as well as continued efforts to increase parental awareness of the ratings." Warner then went on to explain of the new survey: "Our goal is to help academics, politicians and the public learn about the perspectives of game developers, and to improve the level of discourse about video and computer games and their potential benefits and risks. The perspectives of game developers are not widely understood and deserve a place in the public dialogue. We sent out a pilot version of this survey in 2005, and presented the results at the 2006 Game Developers Conference. Based on game developers' feedback and further research, we’ve created a new version, to help us better understand the opinions and experiences of game developers. Our revised web-based survey contains 16 multiple choice questions about the process of developing electronic games, the roles games can play in the lives of children and teens, and your views on game ratings. (We have a few additional questions for game developers who are also parents.) We provide a lot of space for comments, because it's very helpful for us to understand your views in detail. The aggregate results of this survey will be combined with other research conducted by our Center, to be published in academic journals and made available to the general public. All responses to this survey will remain anonymous and confidential. None of the information will be associated with any individuals -- results will only be shared in aggregate form. Internet header information is stripped from the web-based survey form during data processing. We ask that you complete the survey by July 15."

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