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Professor observes a large proportion of criticism of violent games come from the over 35 age demographic

Texas A&M International University professor Christopher Ferguson conducted a study and concluded there is "no significant relationship" between school shootings and playing violent video games. Highlights of the study were summarized by Gamepolitics.

Ferguson's study criticizes the methodology used by past studies that have linked violent video games to aggression. He points out for recent high profile shootings such as the Virginia Tech massacre, and the Utah Trolley Stop mall shooting no evidence of violent video game play by the perpetrator was found.  

Ferguson suggests video games are an easy target to attack for politicians, the news media, and social scientists. He also suggests self serving motivations are what drive these groups. Politicians are motivated by the need to create an appearance they are taking action against crime, for the news media negative news 'sells' better than positive news, for social scientists, it has been observed that a small group of researchers have been most vocal in promoting the anti-game message.  In comparison he states, "Actual causes of violent crime, such as family environment, genetics, poverty, and inequality, are oftentimes difficult, controversial, and intractable problems."

A very interesting observation Ferguson makes is that the majority of individuals critical of video games are above the age of 35 and have not directly experienced the game they are criticizing which some admit to. According to Ferguson, "commentators make claims betraying their unfamiliarity, such as that games like Grant Theft Auto ‘award points’ for antisocial behavior... despite that few games award points for anything anymore, instead focusing on stories." 

As an example of individuals who criticize games without verifying their claims, Ferguson points to the Cooper Lawrence, Mass Effect incident. Without playing the game Cooper Lawrence declared Mass Effect as pornography on Fox News. The resulting backlash forced Lawrence to recant her statements.

Ferguson summarized his findings stating, "The wealth of evidence... fails to establish a link between violent video games and violent crimes, including school shootings. The link has not merely been unproven; I argue that the wealth of available data simply weighs against any causal relationship."

With regards to school shootings he declares, "School shootings, although exceedingly rare, are an important issue worthy of serious consideration. However, for our understanding of this phenomenon to progress, we must move past the moral panic on video games and other media and take a hard look at the real causes of serious aggression and violence."

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By yacoub on 1/26/2009 8:26:42 AM , Rating: 5
The reality is that exposing oneself to violent media can and usually does have negative effects on a person's character, demeanor, outlook, etc, however gradual they might be in most cases.
It's just that school shootings isn't one of those effects. That's just an effect of being batsh*t crazy.

RE: Well
By Moishe on 1/26/2009 8:47:51 AM , Rating: 5
The gradual "negative effect" you speak of has to be simple desensitization to violence. It's sad that we live in a world such as this, but the removal of naivety isn't necessarily "bad".

It takes a certain twisted personality to translate depictions of violence into new acts of horror. Sure, if we had no violence and we all lived in a bubble, then maybe one or two of these crazies would not be "pushed" over the edge... but you don't blame the straw for the failure just because it was the last straw.

RE: Well
By Steve1981 on 1/26/2009 9:20:45 AM , Rating: 4
But it is soooo much easier to blame the straw than try to actually address the root causes of our problems (which tend to be of our own making).

RE: Well
By StevoLincolnite on 1/26/2009 10:04:39 AM , Rating: 4
I was actually always amazed how "Researchers" found links stemming from Video games to the real world, with shootings etc'.

However, why is it we never hear about someone who plays Viva Pinata that goes and Terraforms there backyard and collect Pinata's? Not "Hardcore" enough I suppose.

RE: Well
By Moishe on 1/26/2009 11:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
Funny thing is I've been playing violent video games for most of my life. I also own guns and fast cars and I love sex and hot chicks.

Despite these facts, never once have I shot anyone, run anyone over, or raped anyone. I know plenty of people fit into this category with me. We're normal, sane guys. It's the crazies that stand out and the douchebag, mother-hen types that restrict MY freedom because of a small fraction of lunatics.

RE: Well
By MrPoletski on 1/26/2009 11:53:18 AM , Rating: 3
well given the amount of pr0n on my hard disk I'd say I should have raped the entire country by now.

gah, and given the amount of frags I've tallied up in my lifetime...

CHA-CHAK, right, world, your mine.

All your flags are belong to me.

RE: Well
By MrPoletski on 1/26/2009 11:48:52 AM , Rating: 3
I was actually always amazed how "Researchers" found links stemming from Video games to the real world, with shootings etc'.

Well given the level of idiocy amongst some people actually put there to serve us, I'd say it's not too hard to imagine why. It goes something like this:

1) I heard that somebody got shot by a gun.
2) I saw a game where you go around shooting people with pretend guns in a pretend game world.
3) Therefore 1 is due to 2.
4) Shut up I'm right, you hater.

That, sadly, is how it goes.

"The burden of intelligence is endless contempt":- Dave B

RE: Well
By jhb116 on 1/27/2009 1:09:20 AM , Rating: 3
And then they are rewarded with a Nobel Prize of some sort....

RE: Well
By Phlargo on 1/26/2009 11:52:31 AM , Rating: 5
I flat out disagree that video game violence results in experience fatigue to real violence. It is a whole different world to see someone splattered with blood in a video game than it is in real life.

I've seen a lot of the former and at least a little of the latter and I'll tell you, if anything I'm more attuned to the horrors of real mutilation having seen the depiction of it video games and movies. Experience fatigue can happen in many contexts, but the simulation of violence in games is a far cry from the raw experience of seeing a human being injured by another. Even the threat of violence in public makes me uncomfortable - when people even act like they are going to fight it brings an adrenal response.

In a game, I can run around with a baseball bat beating in the heads of innocents (not that I've ever even done that) and might even revel in the visceral thrill of watching the bodies fall limp. If I were to see that in real life, I would probably puke my guts out. Even in a movie it would be horrible and uncomfortable.

It's a big difference and I think that if you're over about 12, you know it. Even having said that, I played plenty of violent games as a child having grown up with the birth of the Nintendo and graphic computer games and don't feel as though it negatively informed my relationship to violence aversion.

RE: Well
By squirrelfriend on 1/27/2009 7:38:50 PM , Rating: 2
It's sad that we live in a world such as this

I would just like to point out:
The dark ages, witch hunts, treatment of Native Americans, slavery, the Holocaust, Vietnam... countless other acts of human indecency.

things have gotten much better. i can't say it's great, but when compared to the rest of history its pretty damn good.

RE: Well
By MrBlastman on 1/26/2009 9:32:46 AM , Rating: 3
Well, I don't know about you but I was running around college hopped up on stim packs trying to keep my professors from spawning more overlords with my +3/+3 minigun. Unfortunately, for some reason I was never able to complete my spaceport in time...

I'd argue that exposure to this hippie junk on TV nowadays such as Teletubbies and Elmo are having a far greater effect on the development of our young humans than a casual game of Doom. Have you ever tried watching Teletubbies? I can see an infants potential IQ dropping by the second with that show.

Elmo? Come on - he's the poster child for a pussified America. Did you know that rated the original Sesame Street episodes "R" ??? I bet you didn't know that... but it is true! The Sesame Street of old taught character, it taught you life was tough and it taught you that people learned to deal with it. None of this flowery "hoo-haa" that they have on nowadays.

No, I'd say that fantasy programming that is being subjugated to our young ones at a pliable phase of their neural growth is far worse for society as a whole. The media won't let you think that though...

RE: Well
By DeepBlue1975 on 1/26/2009 12:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree completely, I think the effects should be pretty minimal from just media exposure, provided the individual's living environment is a non violent one.

Usually the media just throws things that people accessing the media like or wants to see more frequently.

If people weren't fond of violent scenes or games in the first place, no one managing any media's business would care to use violent images (images being: any representation of violence, not just visual images) as a marketing strategy, because they wouldn't have sufficient interested people to make the "violence business" viable enough.

Make no mistake, if a news show floods the dumb box with crudely violent images, it isn't because they want to impose violence, but rather because they already know that it is a tried and true strategy that works wonders and captures the most massive amounts of audiences amongst those who represent the show's target public.

RE: Well
By redeem4god on 1/26/2009 12:41:51 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone is exposed to violence throughout their life everyday in one form or another. Media builds their ratings primarily on violence or depression.

To voice that is simply to say that there is an inevitable conclusion that we ALL will be affected which is not true. The stability of ones emotional prowess resides heavily on ones own ability to have discipline. Addictions cannot control you unless you "allow" them to do so.

Likewise video games can only affect you if you allow them to. While I agree that those with a weaker intellectual stance are more apt to have the deck stack against them, they too still have the ability to control what does or does not affect them.

This study is one of the smallest that I have heard of out of the same 8 studies done this year alone. There are over 100 million gamers in the world if not more and the best this study could do is 800+?

the sad fact is that humans are always looking to blame some form of mental illness, material addiction or substance issue for the worlds propensity for violence. this same violence practically dating back to the dawn of man when we wielded the first weapon.

RE: Well
By descendency on 1/26/2009 12:55:03 PM , Rating: 2
In most people, it's a small effect.

In those people who are under 18 and can not handle voilent games (those suffering from illnesses and other problems that cause violent actions), they should not have these games.

I once heard a lady say that games caused kids to be violent. Her example was a boy who lived with his mom and his dad was serving in Iraq during most of the young boys early life, so he wasn't around much.

Did she ever once consider a young boy who plays these games with no father figure to explain limits who probably also has ADD is not a good candidate to be parented by video games. Nope.

Quite simply, the problem isn't that games are universally bad or that they are universally good. They have impacts on people and some people should not have those impacts.

RE: Well
By Reclaimer77 on 1/26/2009 6:43:50 PM , Rating: 1
I totally agree. Parents have a huge impact on this behavior. But because it's a taboo subject, they don't seem to put violence in games and movies in context for children.

My father nipped that shit in a bud when I was real young. I glorified violence as a kid, truth be told. I was angry about some stuff I guess.

My father bought me a BB gun. Now I know what your thinking, 'wtf, how's that going to help !?' But it took me YEARS to realize how smart this was. He bought me the gun and then took me to the woods to practice on some birds. Sure enough, somehow, I finally shot a big Blue Jay. But it was able to half fly half dive into the woods, wounded.

I was pretty excited and proud of myself, until my father said it wouldn't be right to leave a bird wounded, and that we would have to go into the woods and put him out of his misery. After a few minutes of searching and listening, we found the bird.

On that day all my preconceptions about guns and violence changed. It's one thing to watch people on TV shoot bullets and hit other people with them and watch them go into an almost painless silent quick death. It's quite different to have a bird I wounded staring up at me, looking me right in the eyes I could have sworn, and just waiting helplessly for you to end his life. No matter how much I cried and told my dad I couldn't do it, he would just tell me I had to. And, finally, I did...

On that day, at such a young age, I learned about life and death. It's not a game. There was no winner or loser. I wasn't the hero or the gunslinger.

I still loved action movies and video games (when the Nintendo finally came) but I had a respect and appreciation for life. And I knew right from wrong.

RE: Well
By dubldwn on 1/26/2009 1:08:55 PM , Rating: 1
The reality is that exposing oneself to violent media can and usually does have negative effects on a person's character, demeanor, outlook, etc, however gradual they might be in most cases.

No, this is not reality, this is your opinion. An unfounded opinion.

If violent media (oxymoron) “usually does” cause “negative effects on a person's character, demeanor, outlook, etc”, what are the implications in the UK, the US, Germany, France, Australia, etc. where millions and millions of people regularly expose themselves to violent media? Are you saying that these people “usually” have issues with their character, demeanor, and outlook because of video games?

RE: Well
By Apprentice777 on 1/26/2009 1:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
What a person watches influences behavior. Guaranteed!! If you don’t believe it just ask people who produce advertisements. Trillions of dollars are spent every year because “smart people” understand that what a person watches influences behavior.

RE: Well
By erple2 on 1/26/2009 5:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
What a person watches influences behavior. Guaranteed!! If you don’t believe it just ask people who produce advertisements. Trillions of dollars are spent every year because “smart people” understand that what a person watches influences behavior.

This is like the antithesis of the Straw Man argument - make some completely benign yet pointless comparison between the original argument and what you've supplied.

You're equating something like influencing buying decisions (which people make all the time) to causing people to go out and kill people (which very few people do all the time). It's one thing to influence someone to buy their product X vs. competing Product Y, particularly when there's no personal objections involved in it (buying a Snuggie). However, there's no amount of advertising in the world that can get me to buy something that I can't stand (coffee, for example - I'll never buy coffee for myself, no matter how much you advertise).

No matter how much I blow heads off in VATS, gleefully giggling at the absurdity of it, I am pretty darned sure that I don't ever want to actually do that in real life.

However, I think of myself as sane and rational (at least in that respect).

RE: Well
By metasin on 1/26/2009 1:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
True we are very insensitive to violence today. However this was not always the case. People were exposed to much more "violent" actions before the industrial revolution. Consider watching your parents kill livestock for dinner or go hunting. Many people today get violently ill observing a chicken being killed and de-feathered, yet this was commonly done in the home. I am sure children even participated in preparing "dinner".

Also criminal punishments were often carried out in public. Imagine taking your children to the town square to observe an execution or lashing.

Did these experiences lead to increased violent behaviors?

RE: Well
By thinkthis on 1/26/2009 8:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is Texas A&M totally has a pro video game agenda. I've seen Aryan Nation members exhibit less bias serving as jury members for minorities. Also, my cousin Billy plays a lot of video games and he shot his dad and, even more tragically, his dog. So clearly, this study is flawed. Also these researchers are total morons, because as everyone knows, correlation isn't causation.

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