Orlando student conducts gay gamer survey

By : Jamie
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 A Full Sail University student is taking on the largest-ever survey of gay gamers. Through the school’s Video Game Design Master’s Program, Paul Nowak is launching the study to learn more about issues of sexual orientation and its relationship to plot, game mechanics and available character interactions.

“I’m doing this to enhance my ability to design toward that market,” said Nowak. “Previous surveys focused on proving the existence of gay gamers to the academic community. Now that that’s been done, it’s time to talk about content.”

The survey can be found at NewGamerSurvey.com and represents a first for Full Sail, which partnered with a private review board in order to accommodate the survey, protect its findings and protect its participants. That means the project is the first time a Full Sail student has conducted research that is academically admissible. It’ll be online for at least another two months.

Nowak said there’s a marketing angle driving the survey, because meaningful play is what sells games.

“The sexual orientation of both players and video game characters can affect mission objectives, story choices, a player’s emotional reaction to the game or any number of things which make game play more meaningful for this demographic,” said Nowak.

He said after encouragement from the university, it was decided that the survey would be for adults only.

“Minors are asked not to take the survey, which is unfortunate, since it is teenagers who are the most relevant to its aim, the most at risk from underexposure and the most enthusiastic about the prospect of entire new gaming universes being created just for them,” Nowak said.

More than 550 people from all around the world have taken the survey since it’s gone live.

“The results have been surprising so far,” Nowak said. “Not one person has agreed with the statement that homosexual content does not belong in video games.”

He said he’s excited about the survey’s spread, because his focus goes beyond research into activism.

“Even Harvard Business School said that video game players are shaping the way the world does business,” said Nowak. “It makes sense that gamers would shape social policy as well. I’m hoping to make the gaming community as a whole a more accepting place for all gamers.”

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