The good, the bad, or the ugly? A multilevel perspective on electronic game effects

Brian G. Southwell, Kenneth O Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


When pundits - and some researchers - proclaim electronic games either altogether good or altogether bad for society, they often miss theoretical subtleties that if considered would allow us to see both the boon and the burden of the emerging technology and point to important future possibilities. Most important, these critics often fail to recognize that variability exists at different levels of analysis and in the interactions: between players, between games, between contexts, and so forth. The simultaneous existence of both positive and negative consequences of electronic games can be elaborated and reconciled in part through a multilevel perspective on electronic game effects whereby important variables exist at the levels of the individual, game content, and societal time or space. This article illustrates this idea by reviewing some recent findings in this arena and pointing to common threads that relate to the likely multilevel structure of human interaction with electronic games.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Computers
  • Games
  • Negative effects
  • Positive effects
  • Technology


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