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Preventing game over: A study of the situated food choice influences within the videogames subculture

James M. Cronin (Food Business & Development, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
Mary B. McCarthy (Food Business & Development, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




An effective means to promote optimal nutrition for any group of consumers is to expand nutrition professionals' understanding of the cohort's food choice processes. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the situated food choice influences of the videogames subculture; a known consumption enclave for calorie dense low nutrient foods. The investigation is conducted by application of an abbreviated version of Furst et al.'s model of the food choice process as a conceptual framework.


This investigation uses an interpretive research strategy and adopts a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis. In total, 14 purposively sampled semi‐structured, in‐depth interviews were carried out with members of the videogames subculture.


Informants' food choices and preferences during social gameplay were strongly influenced by beliefs related to appropriate food behaviour and ideal characteristics of foods suitable for grazing. All informants described some constraints imposed by the physical surroundings and environmental nature of gameplay such as issues of messiness and inability to eat with utensils while gaming. Social structure played an important role in informants' food choices, and much of this structure was built around the hedonic intersection of food and gameplay. Informants' food choices were also influenced by poor cooking abilities and unwillingness to devote much effort to meal preparation during gameplay.

Practical implications

Used in conjunction with theories of behavioural change, the insights gathered here should help inform interventions and communications strategies. Both commercial and social marketing domains have a role to play in positively influencing gamers' diets.


The paper offers social marketers insight into the influences that underpin unhealthful food choices within the videogames subculture and how to positively bring about change.



Cronin, J.M. and McCarthy, M.B. (2011), "Preventing game over: A study of the situated food choice influences within the videogames subculture", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 133-153.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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