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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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RE: hmmm
By Steve1981 on 1/26/2009 10:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
America and Finland has 2 things in common, liberal gunlaws and schoolshootings.


While we could certainly do better about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill with the benefit of modern technology, it is curious to note that while our gun laws were considerably more lax in the "old days" (1970 and before), school shootings were much rarer back then than they are today.


RE: hmmm
By kerpwnt on 1/26/2009 10:56:22 AM , Rating: 2
That's because people actually parented their children in the "old days."


RE: hmmm
By Steve1981 on 1/26/2009 12:03:39 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed.

Of course, I always find it curious how our society seems to equate "standard of living" with the quality of the lives we lead. I mean really, who is happier, a kid and his dad playing catch with a 10 dollar football, or a kid playing the latest iteration of Doom on a $5000 PC while his dad works extra hours to pay off said PC.


RE: hmmm
By callmeroy on 1/26/2009 12:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
...and the parents were actually ADULTS more often than not, today its kids having kids....

doesn't take a genius to figure out if 14 - 16 year olds are having kids, the chance of their kids being raised with any sense of work ethic, mature values, etc. drops lower than with a (assumingly) more mature adult.


RE: hmmm
By bmeanleet on 1/26/2009 9:14:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with part of your thought, yes allot more teenagers are having children than in the past but personally, I believe at first when work ethic isn't ingrained in kid aka 1-3 years of age is when said parents don’t have/realize the responsibilities they will have. Sooner or later though that said parent/parents will not make it unless they do work and in most cases the longer they take to peruse this, the more they will end up working thus teaching a better work ethic. In my case I was 17 when my daughter was born, and she has a great amount of time with me and her mother and she is one of the best behaved hardest working 5 year old I have ever seen, but I am a little bias :P.


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