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James D. Ivory, PhD: Content Is Behavior: How Changes In Video Games And Virtual Environments Change The Way We Should Study Their Content, Users, And Effects


A massive and ever-growing body of research has examined the social impact of commercial video games and virtual environments.  Social science research on games and virtual environments has employed many approaches, including content analysis to examine what messages they contain, surveys to examine the habits and perceptions of their users, and experiments to examine their effects.  As the features and social dimensions of video games and virtual environments change, though, the data and conclusions we can produce with these research methods also change.  This presentation summarizes some existing and ongoing research on the social impact of video games and virtual environments, then proposes some approaches to employing “traditional” social science research methodologies in ways that may generate new insights.


Dr. James D. (Jimmy) Ivory (Ph. D., Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (a.k.a. Virginia Tech).  His primary research interests deal with social and psychological dimensions of new media and communication technologies, particularly the content and effects of new entertainment media such as video games and virtual environments.  Dr. Ivory has served as head of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Communication Technology division and will begin serving as vice-chair of the International Communication Association’s Game Studies special interest group in 2011.