The Untapped Potential of the Gaming Community: Narrative Review

William Goodman, Ethna McFerran, Richard Purves, Ian Redpath, Rebecca J. Beeken

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
1084 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Video gamers are a population at heightened risk of developing obesity due to the sedentary nature of gaming, increased energy intake, and the disruption caused to their sleep. This increases their risk of developing a number of noncommunicable diseases. To date, research seeking to improve health behaviors has focused on developing novel video games to promote behavior change. Although positive results have emerged from this research, large-scale success has been limited due to the lack of transferability to mainstream games and the focus on children and adolescents. The gaming community has a number of unique aspects, which have received comparatively less attention than the development of new video games.

Objective: The purpose of this paper is to highlight under-researched areas that have the potential to encourage positive health behavior among this community.

Methods: A narrative review of the lay and academic literature was conducted to provide context and support to our claims that further research could be beneficial in this area.

Results: Research has found that advertising can have implicit effects on an individual’s memories, which could influence later decisions. However, the effect of the exponential growth of in-game advertisements and the brand sponsorship of gaming events and professional gamers have not been explored in the gaming community. The possibility of using advertising techniques to encourage positive health behaviors within games or at these events has also not been explored. Research suggests that virtual communities can be effective at disseminating health information, but the efficacy of this needs to be explored using known community influencers within the gaming community.

Conclusions: This paper has highlighted a number of potential avenues for the development of interventions within the gaming community. Further research must be conducted alongside game developers to ensure that any in-game developed interventions do not deter gameplay and gamers to ensure that potential approaches are acceptable.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10161
Number of pages10
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

Funded by: BUPA Foundation Fund Innovation Grant from Cancer Research
UK (Award reference: C49248/A23538)


  • Gaming
  • Obesity
  • Behaviour change
  • Advertising
  • In-game advertisements
  • Brand sponsorship
  • Virtual communities
  • Disseminating health information
  • Community influencers
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Cancer risk
  • Cancer
  • Review
  • Culture Media
  • Marketing of Health Services
  • event-related potential; emotion; emotion regulation; interpersonal context; social context


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