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Competencies and Excessive Use among Gamers: Challenged, Supported, Endangered

Competencies and Excessive Use among Gamers: Challenged, Supported, Endangered

Opportunities and Issues Relating to Computer Games from a Media Education Perspective

The debate about the significance and the effects of computer games is multi-layered. The German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat) has acknowledged computer games as cultural artefacts, and more and more cities and regions appreciate the games industry as an economic location factor. Aspects of games that support the acquisiton of competencies and benefit health are being used as sales arguments, whereas parts of the political and medial debate are still marked by fundamentally assumptions about negative effects. Added to that are reports from practitioners in addiction counselling, which document an increasing number of clients who have lost control over their gameplaying and need therapeutic support.

In the public context, those perspectives clash and remain mostly as parallel concerns without any interconnection. This provokes insecurity in many parents and pedagogues, while players passionately defend their hobby and feel misunderstood. In addition, research findings are as heterogeneous as the games themselves, as is shown very impressively by the debate about so-called violent video games (“Killerspiele”).

A particular difficulty here is the underlying, general assumption that computer games are potentially significant hazards without considering individual mental preconditions, social parameters and the characteristics and functions of game offerings for the individual.

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Project Description

On behalf of the Media Authority North Rhine-Westphalia (LfM), the Hans Bredow Institute, in cooperation with the Institute for Media Research and Media Education at the University of Applied Sciences Cologne, is conducting a 15-month project with three major objectives:

(a) To make an inventory of present scientific findings on usage, potentials and risks of computer games.

(b) To collect individual empirical data on habits of usage, acquisition of competencies and risky practices, as well as potential risk factors, thereby combining quantitative and qualitative methods.

(c) To formulate concepts appropriate to particular target groups, to recommend action and suggestions for the media-pedagogical practice of the LfM and other multipliers on the basis of the assessed state of research, as well as on the results of the individual survey.

The project was concluded in October 2010. A publication of the results is currently being prepared. The results are likely to be presented to the public at a conference in February 2011.

Project Information


Duration: 2009-2011

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Dr. Claudia Lampert
Senior Researcher Media Socialisation & Health Communication

Dr. Claudia Lampert

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 92
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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