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New guide to boost understanding of video games

New guide for academics and industry aims to boost understanding of video games to support UK’s world leading sector

  • New framework for researchers will encourage more analysis on video games and related technology

  • Plans identify priority topics for research including the economic benefits of games, their role in education and potential impacts on player wellbeing

  • Publication fulfils government commitment to develop better evidence following call for evidence on loot boxes in video games

A new guide to support research and build a better understanding of video games is published today.

Video games are played by more than half of British adults and the sector is one of the UK’s fast-growing creative industries, contributing £2.8 billion to the economy and employing 27,000 people in 2019.

To support the potential growth and development of the industry, further research is needed to fully understand players’ experiences, and the impacts of games on individuals, communities and the economy more widely.

Last week at the Enders Conference, the Culture Secretary spoke about her desire to maximise potential within the creative industries - of which video games are a key part - with an ambition to grow the sector by an extra £50 billion by 2030; help create a million extra jobs in the sector by 2030; and deliver a Creative Careers Promise that builds a pipeline of talent into our creative industries.

The Video Games Research Framework, developed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in collaboration with academia, research councils and the games industry, aims to support researchers to build a stronger evidence base for future policymaking.

Minister for the Creative Industries, John Whittingdale, said:

Video games are a booming industry - employing thousands of people and contributing billions to our economy, whilst bringing enjoyment to people in fun and challenging ways.

Today’s plans will encourage more research and study in this area so we can better support the opportunities of this highly innovative sector while also protecting players.

Professor Tom Rodden, DCMS’ Chief Scientific Advisor, said:

DCMS supports some of the most exciting sectors in the UK and it is my priority to ensure that policymaking in the department is underpinned by the best possible science, research and evidence to drive growth and enrich lives.

The Video Games Research Framework aims to facilitate high-quality research in the field of video games - promoting inclusive, transparent and independent practice.

I am excited to see how adoption of the framework shapes new research and benefits not just policymakers in government, but the games industry and everyone who chooses to make video games a part of their lives.

The guide sets out a number of priority areas in need of stronger evidence to help academics and industry focus research projects. Priorities recommended by the framework include why people interact with games, their impact on physical and mental health and the effect of in-game features like spending and advertising on players’ experiences. The framework also suggests wider areas of focus, such as the economic potential of the industry and the role of video games in education.

The framework brings together guidance and examples of recommended research practices, including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) principles on research integrity, knowledge sharing and managing conflicts of interest.

The document also provides advice and information on data sharing, as academics identified access to industry and player data as a barrier to enabling better research. It outlines researchers’ legal obligations under UK data protection laws and directs users to guidance from expert bodies such as the Information Commissioner’s Office and UKRI on how data should be collected and handled during studies.

Publishing the framework delivers on the Government’s commitment to support better evidence on the impact of video games after the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games found that research in this area is still emerging.

Dan Wood, Ukie Chief Strategy Officer and co-acting CEO, said:

The establishment of a new Video Games Research Framework will provide objective, robust evidence, strengthening our understanding of the impact of video games across society. As a sector, we will never stand still on this issue and will continue to work collaboratively with government, academia, and industry partners, within the principles of the Video Games Framework to ensure any future change is driven through strong evidence.

Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO, said:

The Video Games Research Framework should be a valuable tool for conducting research in the video games sector. TIGA is pleased to see this framework in place and looks forward to seeing it used as a guide for advancing understanding in this dynamic and world-leading industry.

Professor Peter Etchells, Professor of Psychology and Science Communication, Bath Spa University, said:

The new Video Games Research Framework provides a much-needed set of standards to advance the scientific study of games in an ethical, progressive and robust manner. My hope is that this will allow us to leverage the power of player data, in order to answer meaningful questions about how games can impact health and behaviour.

Professor Andrew Przybylski, Professor of Human Behaviour and Technology, Oxford Internet Institute, said:

The framework provides an actionable blueprint for industry and independent scientists to work collaboratively to harness the power of human play to understand how we shape and are shaped by games.

Notes to Editors

  • The Video Games Research Framework is available here.
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