Researcher Espen Aarseth to lead five-year study into game analysis, which he also hopes will combat stereotypes about addiction and violence

‘We should analyse games as we do cinema and literature’: EU awards €2m to outline game design theories

A Norwegian academic has been given €2 million in grants to fund research into the concepts behind modern game design.

Espen Aarseth was awarded the money by the European Union’s European Research Council to finance his five-year examination of the way that games are created and their cultural presence, entitled Making Sense of Games.

The ERC advanced grants are focused on backing “ground-breaking, high-risk projects” – applicants must prove at least a decade of ‘significant achievement’ in the field.

“Just as we need models for analysing literature and cinema, we need models for analysing games,” said Aarseth.

“We are going to develop and quality-assure some basic concepts for game analysis that can be used for instance in research and education. Today there are no large, sweeping theories drawing on a combination of different approaches and disciplines.”

He added that the research could also combat long-held stereotypes about the effect of video games, such as the belief that younger players can be more prone to violent behaviour and that games can be addictive.

“Our discussions about addiction and violence in connection with games are characterised by a lack of understanding of how computer games work,” Aarseth explained.

“Our goal is to develop concepts that will make it easier for psychologists to assess the effect of games on children and adolescents.

“It is our job as game researchers to make the phenomenon understandable and perhaps a bit less scary, so we can relieve some of the concerns and understand the impact and meaning of games, good and evil.”

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