Development of a Coding Instrument to Assess the Quality and Content of Anti-Tobacco Video Games

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Alber, Julia M.
Watson, Anna M.
Barnett, Tracey E.
Mercado, Rebecca
Bernhardt, Jay M.

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Previous research has shown the use of electronic video games as an effective method for increasing content knowledge about the risks of drugs and alcohol use for adolescents. Although best practice suggests that theory, health communication strategies, and game appeal are important characteristics for developing games, no instruments are currently available to examine the quality and content of tobacco prevention and cessation electronic games. This study presents the systematic development of a coding instrument to measure the quality, use of theory, and health communication strategies of tobacco cessation and prevention electronic games. Using previous research and expert review, a content analysis coding instrument measuring 67 characteristics was developed with three overarching categories: type and quality of games, theory and approach, and type and format of messages. Two trained coders applied the instrument to 88 games on four platforms (personal computer, Nintendo DS, iPhone, and Android phone) to field test the instrument. Cohen's kappa for each item ranged from 0.66 to 1.00, with an average kappa value of 0.97. Future research can adapt this coding instrument to games addressing other health issues. In addition, the instrument questions can serve as a useful guide for evidence-based game development.


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Alber, Julia M., Anna M. Watson, Tracey E. Barnett, Rebeccah Mercado, and Jay M. Bernhardt. "Development of a coding instrument to assess the quality and content of anti-tobacco video games." Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 18, no. 7 (Jun., 2015): 417-425.