Sample Research Proposal: Video Games in Education and Psychology

A gameplay Screenshot from the game Sid Meier’s Civilization V

Context Statement

The following is a mock sample of a research proposal that utilizes sources and experiences to prompt hypothetical questions, and suggests a possible course to take in researching the potential impact of Video Games in education and psychology. This sample is adapted from an academic project I completed and submitted at Kennesaw State University.
Original Creation Date: September 18th, 2019
Revision Date: March 15th, 2021
Content Type: Research Proposal

Games in the World Today

The world we live in today is packed full of rapidly evolving, digital technology the likes of which we could never have imagined a century ago.  From television sets to computers, home appliances to movies, from the Internet to video games, we have seen the results of many brilliant minds expressing their intelligence and creativity.  Despite this, much of this technology is still hotly debated, with video games and their psychological pros and cons often found at the core of many discussions.  The question often on people’s minds is, “what are the pros and cons of video games?”  We should be asking how we are going to make the most of these complex combinations of interactive software and artistic media.  The project I would like to propose would explore the potential of video game technology as a tool for psychologists and educators.

Consider the Public View

It is no secret that video games and their psychological effects are a major topic of debate within the scientific community.  People in the general public are already making their own dives into researching the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Claims and surveys have already been thrown out there that there are numerous parents who do not pay attention to the existing rating systems to help them filter the content their children are exposed to (Thubron).   Other articles are already juggling and comparing the pros, such as the building of social circles or replacing an unhealthy vice, and cons, such as the financial burden gaming presents or the health risks of prolonged exposure (Regoli).  It is important to analyze what the general public and researchers are picking up on, and what their concerns are.  This is to help paint a better picture of the known risks and benefits, and in what ways people are trying to respond to the situation.

Consider Prior Research

Instances already exist of prior experiments regarding this subject.  One example would be the work of one Sami Kilik.  Kilik oversaw doctors training to be surgeons and believes video games can be a crucial tool for building the skills needed to adapt to and operate the robotic surgical equipment employed in the field today.  One survey later, and he had evidence to back his claims when high school gamers proved more adaptive and capable on the training simulators than medical school residents (Nakaya).  That is just one of many crucial examples helping to explain why.  The rest of the book Are Video Games Harmful? may act as a viable springboard for further research questions as well.

Forming Hypotheses From Games

Video games themselves will become a critical resource for the project.  Some information on experiences and inspiration myself and other gamers had in these games serve as springboards for some of the hypothetical questions in mind.  Examples of historical references can be found in many games which pique player interest and may prompt a session of deeper research, a phenomenon that prompts the question, “Can games be used to heighten player interest in historical or scientific research?”  Sid Meier’s Civilization V is a game designed around the concept of creating and managing your own civilization (Firaxis).  Science and culture, commerce and trade, politics and military conflict, this turn-based strategy game has you doing the math and choosing the path your civilization will take whilst outmaneuvering opposing civilizations, be they AI controlled or player controlled.  This prompts the question, “Can players learn adaptive micromanagement skills from certain games?”  It is often that impressive and inspiring, yet brief orchestrations will play with these displays, and almost as often, the player is presented with an associated quote, narrated impressively enough to leave an impression.  One example would be when the player civilization completes the Great Library of Alexandria.  The narrator will quote Sir Francis Bacon, sounding the part of a sage, “Libraries are as the shrine where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and all that without delusion or imposture are preserved and reposed.” (Firaxis) Quote’s like these, accompanied by beautiful art, music, and narration, will often engage the player, pique curiosity about the subject of the moment, and, such as the game did for me, encourage a more philosophical way of thinking.  On top of the first hypothetical question, this phenomenon also prompted query, “Can video games encourage more advanced philosophical thinking or a greater interest in the arts?”  Strategy games like Civilization are not the only resource that the project should explore, but the questions the game prompted do warrant curiosity about the psychosocial and educational impact other games may have. 

The Project Proposal and the Goal

The sources and examples provided are just a few in a mountain of questions, hypotheticals, and hints at potential benefits.  The project I have in mind would involve an observational, longitudinal research experiment, complete with survey questions for the participants of the experiment.  Games used in the experiment should include various genres, with a variety of challenges and stimuli.  Survey questions would be geared toward learning what thoughts the selected games invoke in players, and how each game impacts psychosocial, sensorimotor, and educational development in the participants.  Participants would be gamers, asked to play the various games chosen for the project before answering survey questions relevant to the experience.  Through this process, it is my belief that a greater understanding of video games can be achieved, and the research results, properly disseminated to the public, could help raise awareness and improve the overall societal benefits of video games by encouraging more responsible exposure, and in turn, nurture improved psychological and educational development in the individuals who play video games.


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