|Thompson, Victoria -|
|Baranowski, Tom -|
Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2009
Publication Date: September 30, 2010
Citation: Thompson, V., Thompson, D.J., Baranowski, T. 2010. Understanding "Serious Videogame" storyline and genre preferences related to game immersion among low-income ethnically diverse urban and rural adolescents. In: Evans, C.M. editor. Internet Issues: Blogging, the Digital Divide and Digital Libraries. New York City, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. p. 177-188. Technical Abstract: Researchers and non-profit organizations have embraced various media, because they help school-aged children acquire knowledge and develop decision-making ski11s. Serious videogames (i.e., games designed to entertain and educate, train or change behavior) may be effective at modifying youth health behavior and their related psychosocial influences. For serious video games to be effective, however, they need to be consistent with youth game-play preferences and expectations. It is important to understand player preferences, so that immersive serious games can be developed that promote desired changes. While studies have reported ethnic and gender differences in time spent playing videogames and game-play preferences, few have examined regional differences in these variables. This chapter, employed both quantitative and qualitative methods (i.e., surveys and focus groups) to examine preferences for storyline genres and plot content of non-violent video games, as well as computer access knowledge and game-play frequency in a sample of predominantly low-income urban middle school students in Texas and rural middle school students in North Carolina. Survey results revealed that White and Other/Native American male students, played videogames more frequent1y than African-American or Hispanic male students did. Although focus group participants preferred action games with some violence, they had positive reactions to challenging adventure games with male and female characters of diverse ethnicities and narratives without overt sexual overtones. Incorporating storyline and game-play preferences may promote game immersion so that the player relates to and interprets the messages based on personal experiences. Critical thinking skills undergird and complement attempts to achieve positive behavior change.