Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

An Examination of the Psychological and Consumptive Behaviors of Sport Video Gamers

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

An Examination of the Psychological and Consumptive Behaviors of Sport Video Gamers

Article excerpt

Abstract

Despite the growing popularity of sport video games (SVGs), particularly as it relates to their growth as a marketing tool, there has been relatively little research on the psychology and behavior of the sport video gamer. The current study examined the psychological and consumptive behavior of sport video gamers across different levels of game play. Data from 239 gamers was collected from four popular online video game sites. This study provides evidence that sport video gamers are sport fans that engage in a variety of sport consumptive behaviors. The findings also suggest that sport video gamers seek a unique outlet for needs that might not be fulfilled in a real life sporting context, and that heavy gamers are typically highly identified sport fans who engage in more sport consumptive behavior than the light gamer who has less connection with the team. The findings of the study provide researchers and marketers with important implications and benchmark data for future research to explore the psychology of sport consumers in a virtual environment and the potential of videogames as a marketing and communication tool.

Introduction

The video game industry has grown at a tremendous rate over the past decade. From 1996 to 2004, computer and video game sales grew from $2.6 billion to $7.4 billion ("Top 10 industry facts," 2005). This growth is also evidenced by the fact that in 2004 sales of digital game items exceeded movie theatre box office receipts in the United States (U.S.) market for the first time (e-Strategic Research, 2005). Also, it has been reported that 40% of U.S. households now own at least one type of video game system (Entertainment Software Association, 2005). This growth has enabled the video industry to become one of the fastest growing Quarterly challengers to traditional forms of entertainment, discretionary income, and consumer leisure activity and time (Isidore, 2003).

Sports are a worldwide pastime, and video games draw on the popularity of specific sports and successful athletes. In fact, sport video game (SVG) titles continue to be one of the most popular genres (Adams, 2005; Arrington, 2003; Kushner, 2002; Wingfield, 2005), with games emulating real life sports ranked second in total number of units sold in 2004 (17.8% of industry sales) (Entertainment Software Association, 2005). Given the popularity of SVGs, sport marketers are now utilizing the games as a potential opportunity to create a more interactive and integrated communication tool (Adams, 2005; Arrington, 2003; Lefton, 2005).

Entertainment marketers and advertising researchers recognize these games as a powerful tool for advertising and promotional strategy, and they are beginning to implement product placement and branding within interactive games (Chaney, Lin, & Chaney, 2004; Ferrazzi, Chen, & Li, 2003; Nelson, 2002). According to technology research firm The Yankee Group, $70 million in advertising revenue was generated via in-game ads in the U.S. in 2003, and that number is predicted to increase to $92 million by 2008 (e-Strategic Research, 2005).

Review of Literature

Despite the practice and popularity of using video games as a communication and marketing tool, research on this topic is in its infancy stage. Nelson (2002) was the first to examine recall of product placement found in a simulated racing game. The results indicated that 25-30% of brands that appeared in the game were recalled in the short term, and 10-15% were recalled after a five-month delay (Nelson, 2002). Schneider and Cornwell (2005) also researched this topic and determined that prominent banner placements resulted in higher recall and recognition than subtle placements. Further research by Nelson, Keum, and Yaros (2004) aimed to determine consumer attitudes towards in-game advertising as well as purchase intentions towards the brand that appeared in the game. The researchers found that generally, most consumers had positive feelings about in-game advertising when it adds realism to the game, and those that had negative feelings about in-game advertising were negative about the practice of advertising in general (Nelson et al. …

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