Data analysis firm Evolution Research has released the findings of its latest online survey aimed at determining the perceptions surrounding video games and how they influence the behavior of those who play them.
The survey, which polled 2,077 individuals, found that the majority of those questioned (60 percent) noted that video games represented a significant influence, even more so than cable television (47 percent) or movies (50 percent). In addition, while this research found these to be the top three influential media sources, other sources of media, such as books, news, and even the internet, were found to have much less pull over the survey respondents.
Just over 30 percent of younger survey participants, aged 18-24, indicated that video games could have a positive social impact on players, while this percentage steadily declined with older participants. Comparatively, when asked if games could have a negative social impact, nearly 40 percent of those aged 44 and up noted that they agree, while just less than 20 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 echoed this concern.
Ratings issued by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) played a central role in Evolution's research, and according to the firm's findings, 71 percent of those surveyed indicated familiarity with the ESRB. Interestingly, ESRB president Patricia Vance during a recent hearing
cited research that found a greater percentage of parents, 83 percent, were found to be aware of the ESRB's ratings.
Vance also noted at that time that 74 percent of those parents use the ratings as guidelines when deciding what games to buy, a figure supported by Evolution's research. According to the report's findings, 77 percent of parents surveyed indicated that ESRB ratings factor into what games they purchase, while 81 percent noted that they “are likely or very likely” to consider ESRB ratings when determining what games they allow their children to play.
Both parents and non-parents alike seem to agree that the ESRB rating should play a role in who can purchase certain video game titles, with two-thirds of those surveyed noting that retail sales should be restricted based on the ESRB's age recommendations.
In addition, of those surveyed who do not play games at all, 77 percent indicated agreement that some video games should be banned altogether – a sentiment understandably opposed by those survey participants who do play games. According to Evolution, older respondents aged 44 and up were “by far” the strongest supporters for banning games.
Finally, Evolution's research questioned individuals regarding who or what they felt was ultimately responsible for governing what games are played by minors. Refreshingly, the bulk of respondents indicated that parents are the last line of defense when it comes to what games children play, with game publishers, government, and organized religion falling in line behind.
The survey found that parents are likely to let children play games rated as appropriate for early childhood, everyone, and ages 10+, but are less inclined to allow minors to play mature or adult-rated titles.