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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 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.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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