The Multiple Dimensions of Video Game Effects


concerning this article should be addressed to Douglas A. Gentile, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011; e-mail:


Abstract— Video games are at the center of a debate over what is helpful or harmful to children and adolescents, and there is research to substantiate both sides. The existing research suggests that there are at least 5 dimensions on which video games can affect players: the amount of play, the content of play, the game context, the structure of the game, and the mechanics of game play. This article describes each of these 5 dimensions with support from the scientific literature, arguing that this approach can allow people to get beyond the typical “good–bad” dichotomous thinking to have a more nuanced understanding of video game effects and to provide testable hypotheses for future research.