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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 dubldwn on 1/26/2009 1:08:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
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
quote:
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).


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