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Recently-Funded New Zealand Research Could Affect Game Classifications

New Zealand's Waikato University has received a $405,000 research grant to study how people interact with video games -- a project that could possibly affect how games are classified in the region.
New Zealand's Waikato University has received a $405,000 research grant to study how people interact with video games -- a project that could possibly affect how games are classified in the region. Titled "Videogame Classification: Assessing the Experience of Play", the study is headed by psychologist Dr. Gareth Schott, a senior lecturer in the university's Screen and Media Studies department. He will work with other researchers in the field, including Finland's Frans Mayra and Sweden's Dr Lennart Nacke. Schott argues that while video games are currently classified with the same rating labels as films in New Zealand, people are actually able to interact with games and affect events with their choices. He says it's important to better understand that interaction as gaming becomes more popular. "Players' pathways through games and their decision-making processes are based on a range of influences that are embedded with the complex hybrid medium of games," said Schott in an interview with Waikato Times. "So, the experience is very different for every player. That makes games very difficult to classify." As part of the three-year project, which starts next year, the group will study 60 gamers (20 each year) playing video games while wearing biofeedback headgear that measures their brain activity. Participants will play action/adventure titles recently released during the research period. The research group plans to monitor players' non-verbal reactions and record every in-game action they make. It also intends to interview participants after their play time, and ask the gamers to keep a diary. The $405,000 research grant was awarded to the university by the Marsden Fund, which is dedicated to supporting New Zealand research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, social science, and the humanities. The fund awarded $60 million to over 100s project this year out of a record 1089 applications.

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