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|Title: ||Play Buddies or Space Invaders? Exploring medium-specific factors and their relation with game genre in the study of attitudes towards in-game advertising|
|Authors: ||Poels, Karolien|
|Issue Date: ||2012|
|Citation: ||Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap|
|Abstract: ||Millions of people from various socio-demographic backgrounds are engaged in playing digital games, making this medium particularly interesting for the advertising industry. The current paper contributes to the study of attitudes toward in-game advertising. By this we mean the opinions and attitudes that players of digital games hold about the phenomenon or practice of ad placements inside digital games. It thus differs substantially and has a different scope than measuring attitudes towards specific in-game ad placements when testing advertising effectiveness (as studied e.g. in Mackay et al., 2007). Nevertheless, attitudes towards advertising in general are found to be an important determinant of how people respond to any particular form of advertising (Mehta, 2000). Both positive factors such as “being informed about products”, “hedonic pleasure”, “good for the economy”, and negative factors such as “corruption of values” and “preaching materialism” determine how consumers generally think about advertising (Pollay & Mittal, 1993). Next to these “generic” factors, medium-specific factors might also play a role in the study of attitudes towards advertising. These are factors that result from content (e.g. fiction versus non-fiction), goal-related (entertainment versus information), or control (e.g. passive versus active audience) characteristics defining a specific medium (or subgenres within a medium) (Tan & Chia, 2007). We argue that these medium-specific factors are particularly relevant for the study of in-game advertising (IGA), since digital games combine characteristics from both non digital (e.g. TV, movies) and digital media (e.g. the Internet). As a result, digital games form a unique medium and several medium factors already identified for other media, like “realism enhancement” for product placement in movies (Nebenzahl & Secunda, 1993) and “intrusiveness” for Internet advertising (Li et al., 2002), will probably influence players’ opinions toward IGA. Moreover, digital games can be divided in a long and diverse list of game genres (e.g. Action games, Role-Playing games, Shooter games, Racing games etcetera). The nature and direction of medium-specific advertising factors will probably depend on the frequency with which players engage in playing a specific game genre. The objective of the current study was threefold. First, we wanted to explore and test the existence of medium-specific factors of IGA attitudes. Second, we aimed to investigate whether these medium-specific factors vary according to the playing frequency of specific game genres. Third, we wanted to gain insight in how these medium-specific factors relate to general attitudes towards IGA. A convenience sample (N=38) was used 1) to explore the different relevant medium-specific factors, and 2) for formulating items probing these medium-specific factors in our main study. Several medium-specific aspects emerged from their listings, mainly related to Intrusion (e.g. “IGA disturbs my game play”) and Realism (e.g. “IGA contributes to game realism, making games just like real life”). Further, negative aspects of IGA were overload and misfit with the gaming environment. The latter two could be divided into two additional factors: Avoidance (e.g. “An overload of in-game placements makes me avoid playing that game”), and Appropriateness (e.g. “IGA has to fit with the context of the game”). The dimensionality of these four factors was integrated and tested in the main study. An online survey with 708 avid gamers confirmed the existence of four medium-specific factors (after PCA analysis). Shooter games, Role-Playing games, and Racing games were the most frequently played game genres among our sample. As expected, the evaluation of the medium-specific factors varied according to the frequency of playing these three genres. Avid players of Role-Playing games showed greater avoidance tendencies and marked the importance of appropriate use of IGA inside the game environment. Avid players of Shooter games and Racing games found IGA less intrusive and more realism enhancing An explanation for these results might be that, for more realistic game genres, in-game ad placements might blend more easily with the game environment, even enhancing the level of realism of the game. As such, frequent players of these genres might see IGA as a positive phenomenon or a non-disturbing one, at least. For fantasy game genres, such as Role-Playing games, IGA might be more problematic, since it is more difficult to blend it with the context of the game. Future research on IGA should more carefully consider medium-specific factors and the influence of player variables such as their experience with and preference for a specific game genre. Finally, as already stated, medium-specific factors are not the only determinant of general attitudes towards in-game advertising. Personal (e.g. entertainment and information value) and social factors (e.g. image factor, economic value) should also be explored in further studies.|
|Type: ||Proceedings Paper|
|Appears in Collections: ||Research publications|
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