Waikato academic Gareth Schott has been given a $140,000 grant to run two video game clubs for teenagers so that he can observe their behaviour in a natural environment.
The study is to canvass whether and to what extent violent video games cause harm to impressionable young people.
Dr Schott will interview players about the role that violent games play in their social lives, as well as talk to advocacy groups about their opposition to violent games.
Researchers up to now have been largely divided into two camps - those who reinforce a bleak view of the effect of violent games, and others who tend to emphasise the cultural value of video games.
Dr Schott, from Waikato University's department of screen and media, said he expected his study to let young people themselves answer the question: Why do gamers choose, interact with, and enjoy video games that include violence?
"This research will add a new voice, that of young people themselves, to a debate that is far from resolved," he said.
The grant has been provided from the Marsden Fund's "fast start" programme which gives emerging researchers an opportunity to explore an innovative idea.