In-Game Health Communication: Delivering Low-Fear Health Messages in a Low-Fear Videogame Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: Prior research has demonstrated that psychological immersion (or "transportation") into virtual gaming worlds can heighten influence from health-promotion messages embedded in the backgrounds of gaming scenes. However, research to date has only studied the effectiveness of embedding graphic, fear-based messages in the background of violent, first-person videogames. This study sought to examine whether transportation into a nonviolent videogame can heighten persuasion from low-fear, nongraphic health messages. METHODS: Willingness to drive under the influence of alcohol (DUI) was measured in an undergraduate sample (MAGE = 19) at the start of the semester, and n = 220 returned 0-3 months later to play a car-racing videogame. All were randomly assigned to play either a version of the game containing background billboards that delivered simple, text-based anti-DUI messages or consumer advertising. Self-reported levels of transportation were assessed, as well as postgame willingness to DUI. RESULTS: Exposure to anti-DUI messages from within the game predicted lower postgame willingness to DUI. Moreover, replicating prior research, the effect of message exposure was largest among those who reported higher levels of pregame willingness to DUI, and higher levels of in-game transportation. CONCLUSION: This study replicates prior research by suggesting that immersive videogames that promote transportation can be used to effectively deliver health communications. Results also expand prior research by providing the first evidence that such effects can generalize when health messaging orients around nongraphic, lower fear messages embedded within immersive but lower fear videogames.

author list (cited authors)

  • Burrows, C. N., & Blanton, H.

publication date

  • January 1, 2018 11:11 AM