Dismantling The Research Being Used Against Video Games
from the it's-got-problems dept
Two of the pet peeves we have here are all of the studies that claim to show a link between violent video games and real violence, and the obsession (or, perhaps we should say “addiction”) researchers seem to have with calling just about any new technology that people use frequently an addiction. Neither one tends to hold up under scrutiny — though, the press rarely digs into any of the claims and usually reports them as fact. Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the “blame the video game” crowd is now adding the “addiction” element to their case against video games — which of course could make for typical vapid press coverage. NewScientist apparently had just such an article lately — with scary graphics and plenty of weak or unsubstantiated claims.
So, kudos to Business Week for ripping apart the NewScientist piece while digging deeper into the research concerning the impact on real world violence as well as the addiction issue. In both cases, the research again comes up lacking. Most of the research concerning video game violence impacting real world violence comes from one source (or is based on his original work). The article notes that the interpretation of the data is often clearly biased, as they leave out perfectly reasonable explanations for the data that have nothing to do with making people more prone to violence. There’s a good example of a study that claimed violent video games “desensitizes” people to real violence based on how video game players’ brains didn’t react as much to violent images — but a similar study of baseball players showed how good baseball players’ brains reacted similarly to seeing a pitch being thrown at them. No one says the batter is “desensitized” to the pitch, but everyone simply recognizes that they need less cognitive power to understand the situation and know how to react. Yet, the video game study makes no similar suggestion. The addiction research has similar issues, as we’ve seen repeatedly with almost every recent claim of “tech addiction.” Coming just as we have another batch of stories trying to link a crime with the video games the deranged killer played, it’s nice to finally see the media digging into the research. Of course, we’re still wondering why almost no one in the media reports on the fact that, as violent video games have shot up in popularity among kids, incidents of youth violence have continually decreased. If these games are such an influence to violence, wouldn’t you expect the opposite to happen?