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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: 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.

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