Video Gaming PR Industry

October 24, 2006 at 12:34 am 9 comments

When writing about the video game industry, I found that the scope of the topic was broad considering the range of age in this item.  Whether young or old, video gamers equally populate this large industry.  For example, in my work at EB Games, I find that males and females over the age of 50 years tend to sway between Massive Multiplayer Online games, such as World of Warcraft and Online Poker.  Males and females under the age of 50 years vary in their preferences and therefore no conclusion can be made.  After much research, I found a subject that is very prominent in the North America mindset, and it has a large effect on all gamers–especially young individuals; violence and gender bias.

The gaming industry since 1985 has promoted a fairly misogynistic view of society, depicting women as the damsels in distress and men as the heroic virtuous leaders.  Even though the video game industry has come a long way with human rights in the past 20 years–supporting equality in the workforce, school system, and at home for all genders, races, and religions, this commercial entity still has a firm grasp on this old gaming paradigm.  As a result of this bias, video games are very sociable to young males and less to young females.  Since I am very ingrained in this industry with experience of more than 12 years, I didn’t see this as a problem until last year, July 2005.

Violence in games is widespread due to the lack of parenting skills among many other societal faults.  I found in my research that violent video games are undeniably linked to violence if played extensively over a period of time without proper control, rules, or boundaries in place.  Young females and males, mostly males, who played violent video games tend to exhibit violent and disobedient behaviour over others who have not played these games.  As a PR student and soon to be practicioner, it is my ethical duty to make sure this trend does not corrupt the community as well as the companies producing these game titles.   Some people may argue that since the ESRB rating system is on games, children of lesser ages will be able to obtain these copies that they are restricted to rent or buy.  Unfortunately, working in a store such as EB Games, I have little faith in parenting skills of parents today and find that most kids coax these authoritative figures to buy these violent games anyways.  It’s unfortunate, but this field of PR work is loitered with land mines and needs careful reassessment from both the company and the relations expert (ME :). 

I have also included some annotated bibliographies as others have in case you would like to look at this topic further:

Kirsh, S.  (Summer 1998).  Seeing the World Through Mortal Kombat-colored Glasses:

Violent Video Games and the Development of a Short-term Hostile Attribution Bias.  Childhood, 5, no. 2, 177-84.

Kirsh reigns in the empirical evidence in order to show how violence inevitably contributes to long-term bias opinions.  He also notes that prolonged usage with lack of discipline results in a disruptive child/adult.

Funk, J., Buchman, D.  (June 1996).  Playing Violent Video and Computer Games and Adolescent Self-Concept.  The Journal of Communication, 46,  19-33.            This article also follows up on the violence that the Dills wrote about, but it focuses  

            more on the female perspective.  It explains how alienated females feel when trying to

            cope with the male-dominated gaming industry.

Dill, K., Dill, J.  (1998).  Video Game Violence: A Review of the Empirical Literature.  Aggression and Violent Behaviour, 3, no. 4, 407-428.

            This article gives a great historical background on the gaming industry and how it has affected the youth playing it.  They also target mainly young males since they are the majority of study in the late 1990s.

Ernest, G.  (August 2006).  Are the Gaming Industry’s PR Wounds Self-Inflicted?  Retrieved October 14, 2006 from

            This small blurb is a concern expressed by the gaming community about bad PR

             presentations about video games.  Ernest explains how Thompson is blatantly

             accusing the industry without consistent, empirical data.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility & Public Relations PR RESEARCH

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prclass  |  October 24, 2006 at 1:32 am

    Who wrote this report?

    For all the reasons you mention, I have always forbidden video games in my household. The argument that they enhance hand eye coordination is bunk. Playing tennis also enhances hand eye coordination (without misogynistic overtones.)

    I can understand playing video games once in a while, but the tendency is to become addicted or at the very least spend too much time doing something that is, at best, unproductive and, at worst, counter productive. Anyhow, I won’t ramble on. I feel quite strongly about the pernicious affects of video games. Darlene.

  • 2. prclass  |  October 25, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    As a kid I was allowed to play video games, but only if it was dark, pouring rain or a massive blizzard outdoors. On that note my old man only let me play sports video games (such as the EA Sports games) and when we played them together he use to teach me the rules, or in John Madden football, different plays.
    If it was nice out on the other hand, me and my friends had no desire to stay indoors and play vid’s, but would rather be outside playing road hockey. Now a day you never see kids out on the streets playing road hockey. And I always think to myself that I guarantee they are playing the latest vid. I find it sad.
    My final comment has to do with the correlation between vid’s and violence. You can often read in the newspaper instances of copycat crimes that are initiated by videogames. It’s terrible. So get out there Adam and PR practitioner you’re way into this field. You know it and love it and you would be great!

  • 3. prclass  |  October 26, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    Yes. If only the video game industry would use its powers for good instead of evil! That’s too naive.

    Overall, our culture has this morbid fascination with violence and sadism/masochism in particular. I got so mad recently when my son and a friend rented Jackass. Those guys were wantonly abusing themselves for profit and all I could think was how there are so many people in the world being abused and tortured or who are placing themselves in mortal danger, in the case of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the betterment of others. Political feelings about the war itself aside, the men and women immersed in the fighting are not profiting from their horrific experiences and will not walk away laughing. I’m just disgusted at what we allow ourselves to watch.

    Think about what Steve Matthews had to say about his experiences with disaster relief and the friend of his who finally melted down in Rwanda. And then we make fun of hurting others and celebrate it as some kind of birthrite.


  • 4. prclass  |  October 27, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    We’ve been talking in our department about studying the sociological and artistic influences of video games on culture and that we should probably be creating a course or units within courses that look at the games from a cultural studies perspective. Currently we do not have anyone employed who has both experiential and cultural analysis video gaming experience.

    Large numbers of people are playing the games. There are millions (billions?) of dollars a year spent on the games. They are clearly not just for kids anymore. Some colleges and universities are creating game development programs. I think Western just started a program in its Computer Science area. We know that many of the games have first person shooter perspectives or a focus on ‘underworld’ activities. Of course, many video games have educational purposes and are used for training and entertainment. These aspects are probably doing some good.

    We also know that there has been some cross over from the violent video games to behaviours in our day to day lives. In Toronto last year there were a few street racing deaths that people connected to the Fast & Furious movie/gaming franchise. In one instance the game was found in a car at the accident scene. Has there been crossover in more positive ways from the training, educational, and entertainment videos? We hear less about that point of view.

    I think there is a connection with this topic and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) topic. Sometimes CSR is viewed as engaging employees in socially redeeming activities to create common purposes and for organizations “to do good” and to be seen “to be good” in their communities and to and for their stakeholders.

    However, in an emerging field like video-gaming there might also be the aspect that game creators might want to create games from a CSR mindset right from the onset: that is the game creators might self edit and create socially responsible games. Others would argue that under freedom of expression game creators should be allowed to create any scenario, including say, the game that is modelled after the Columbine Massacre, and it is the the user to choose whether or not to play such games. There was a recent New York Times magazine article that stated the most financially successful games are not about violence but are the SIMS and Civilizations which teach processes, modelling, and problem solving.

    I think the phrase is “what the market will bear”. Thus, consumers choose some games that have questionable storylines, violent outcomes, and rewards for doing things that are socially unacceptable in the real world. Sometimes we don’t take the time to look at things that are right in front of our eyes. We had a visitor to our home last year from England and my son was playing the NHL hockey videogame. The visitor was astonished at the virtual hockey players’ spontaneous on-ice “fights” – something we had overlooked.

    Adam is in an interesting position in that as a person who has experience working for a videogame retailer he is aware of market trends, gaming trends, and probably plays the games himself. It is a large industry and as with all large industries there will be several opportunities for professional communicators.


  • 5. Adam Wencel  |  November 2, 2006 at 10:40 pm

    That’s a valid point Darlene, but I tend to disagree with taking games away from kids totally. There’s so much available through gaming systems that’s found nowhere in society. I also tend to disagree with the ‘bunk’ing idea because with the insertion of the Nintendo Wii, playing tennis, basketball, shooting, and archery will be a reality to improve upon. I believe that if the parents exercise the right control over children while playing, they will turn out to be great children. I am a living example of that.

  • 6. prclass  |  November 3, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    I think that video games is a fairly sensitive subject for some as one seems to be very passionate in either one direciton or the other. I as a young girl used to play video games sometimes if I wanted to 6 hours a day. But along with that I have always played on several sports teams and have always been playing outside. I think the key here is balance. If a child is only surrounded in video games as their leisure/play time, then I think that the possibility of violence in their behaviour could be more evident rather than a child who is on the majority doing other activities such as sports teams and plays video games on those stormy nights. I go by what I always have and that is health and fitness is the key to our society, if children have that, then I do not think violence in games will take prominence in their lives
    Laura Hanson

  • 7. prclass  |  November 4, 2006 at 2:07 pm


    I’m not an absolutist on anything (that sounds very absolute!). The unfortunate thing is if I bring home an educational video game my son will never want to play it! I’m always torn between wanting to give my kids exposure to the world we live in, which includes all the technology, the good and the bad, and wanting to minimize their exposure to certain facets that I deem unworthy. It’s a constant conundrum.

    Is the cost of keeping up with the systems and all the new software prohibitive? And I have real questions about how these things contribute overall to our collective slide toward anti-social behaviour. Why is it that we don’t see kids on the streets playing ball hockey the way we once did? Of course, I have a theory about that. It’s not all about video games, but they are a contributing factor.

    And, by the way, you are a fine young man despite all your exposure to video games! Darlene.

  • 8. cathy antes  |  August 8, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    My name is Cathy Antes and I am a staff assistant here at PSU. I am researching to find a lists of individuals who would be interested in attending our Videogaming conference in fall of 2007. Do you have a mail list or membership list of individual we could purchase to use for a conference?

    Here is information about our conference. Videogame at the Crossroads: A conference to seize the Moment. This program brings together professional and scholars around a research agenda addressing the direct and indirect impacts of the rapidly expanding and increasingly pervasive video game industry. The conference is not about the technology of video gaming, hardware platforms and methods of design, playability, or game concepts. It focus is on the intertwined economic, business legal, social, and cultural and policy aspects of the entertainment software and on-line video game business broadly defined. The conference will be held in Fall of 2007 at the Pennsylvania State
    University and will invite national and international scholars, experts and professionals to identify key issues, develop policy alternatives and shape a research agenda addressing the direct and indirect impacts of rapidly expanding and increasingly pervasive video game industries.

    You can reach me at 814-865-4056 or Thank you for your time and help.

    These are some of the people I would be looking for:
    3D Artist
    Art Director
    Associate Producer
    Audio Director
    Computer Graphics Artist
    Design Manager
    Environmental Artist
    Game Designer
    Graphics programmer
    Hardware Engineers
    Java/jME Developers
    Lead Artist
    Software Engineers
    Sr. Online programmer
    Validation Engineers
    Visual Computing
    Visual Effect Artist

    You can reach me at 814-865-4056 or Thank you for your time and help.


  • 9. Chris  |  December 14, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    If you make it your mission to make sure these games aren’t promoted in that fashion. You run the risk of


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