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Sep 23, 2010



Can we get a link to the brief?


nm - here goes


It's not just psychology, it's every new science. Geologists were poked at by Physicists; theory of tectonic shifts? Not to mention microbiology.

Professor, we've come a long way as a people and yet we still tend to favor the status quo. Bringing it back to video games, I'm not sure if it isn't society's way of identifying the problem. Video games just seem pretty easy to point to eh?


Well, in my view this follows pretty predictable patterns of panic over media that stretch back all the way to Plato (not a fan of the plays was Plato). But I think media do provide an easy target to explain society's ills (even when society is doing reasonably well as now).

With video games I think the fuss mainly started with the concerns about school shooters. Although now we might recognize that blaming mass murder on video games is silly (I always wonder how no one notices even 40-year old female biology professors commit mass school shootings...and when they do no one mentions video games)...the old panic about them remains.


The movement to regulate also comes from a general methodological weakness in lab studies of media effects. This explains for example the participation of respected groups like the California Pediatric Society and the Cal. Psych. Assoc. in Yee's brief in support of petitioners. They generally believe that if a lab study of 70 people shows an increase in aggressive behavior an hour after watching a TV show, the finding is ALSO evidence of a broad-ranging social problem. But I have yet to see a reasonably confirmed theory that directly ties the results one sees in the lab to broader social effects.


Welcome Christopher!

Interesting discussion. As a fellow social 'scientist' (anthropology), I confess to suffering from some of the same pitfalls you describe above. What is different about my discipline is that we make little effort to be objective; the researcher is an instrument of research and subjective, reflected experiences are valid inputs into understanding the holistic nature of culture. In a way, we are all about correlation, yet we are cautious about generalization. This means not following quantitative data, for example, without a qualitative collorary that the researcher believes (based on direct experience!) to be valid. Quite often this validation comes from a deeply intuitive and usually long-term understanding of the culture at hand. Most videogame researchers, for instance, are gamers first, meaning they are deeply entrenched participants of the culture they study, regardless of which methodological choices. This changes the nature of research, clearly.

My point? I think it's okay that we intuit, as members of this culture, whether a panic is warranted (or not). I think it's okay to disregard those who judge without such experience.

I have this conversation every time I tell someone what I do. I respond by telling them about LAN parties in Finland, where thousands of people sit in rooms killing each other for days. And it's one of the most bonding, relevant experiences many of them have.

This is not a topic that can be understood with pure observation, or data of other sorts, as they hint at symptoms/by-products of cultural choices (intended and unintended consequences), but are not to be trusted when trying to pin-point cause. As a culture, it must be understood from the inside out, validated and understood by a range of disciplines. Then it will become clear that play is fundamental to survival, and to literacy, and we've only just started to understand its potential in a digital age. We just need some better ways to prove our points. Sometimes that's measurement. Seems like that's what the world is waiting for. How many gamers killed each other? How many learned valuable collaboration skills? How many grew up to be normal, contributing adults?

Fear assuaged with those oh-so-comforting numbers, oh, okay, we're not in peril after all!

(How did we latch-key GenXers survive the hours and hours of bad 70s TV we survived on? A dystopian view would focus on anti-depressants, ADD and simulacra. The long view recognizes we are at a point in history: not perfect, but surely getting better, if the quality of children's television is any indication, anyway!)


P.S. Not being snarky putting 'scientist' in quotes... more a comment on my discomfort with the term, as I get scientific method, and it's not how I work. Glad others do.


Relevant to this conversation is this discussion from the UK: 'Sacred of Kids' - demonstrates the sweeping cultural changes that arise from fears separated from actual systemic problems that are hard to fix:


"Any discussion of video game effects must present an honest appraisal of the scholarly literature. Sadly, that has all to often been lacking in this field."

Agreed, by looking at the public writings and speeches of many on the masthead here. How exactly are Video Games saving us, the world?


"How exactly are Video Games saving us, the world?"

Saving us...from what exactly?


I'm not sure if we know that videogames are saving us from anything. Except perhaps boredom, apathy, hopelessness, lack of connection, and an inability to belong in a culture so focused on external indicators like body type, money and status.

What I am confident of is that those who ignore the phenomenon are as illiterate in a digital age as elderly people who refuse to use ATMs. Their choice, certainly, but aren't they curious what they're missing? I guess not, if fear is their first response to change.

Re: the scholarly literature: evaluated and included, despite dogma, contrarianism and purely positivist outlooks. However, as a scholar I feel free to refute, or even disregard, those who simply don't know what they are talking about. Problem is that it's hard to argue those who are so sure that virtual violence begets real-world violence, just because that makes some sort of common sense. Paradoxical. As far as I can tell it's a delusion, but I am willing to be proven wrong.


"illiteracy as the refusal to use an ATM?" hmm. maybe one should rethink that statements logic.

"so focused on external indicators like body type, money and status.".

and the first thing you do in farmville or WOW is to what?...lol

staring at an empty avatar....c3


Understand the irony of my point about external indicators, c3, but meritocracies are hard to come by in the 'real' world. MMOs reward effort. Yes, sometimes people purchase that effort (collected and monetized), but the majority do not.


Controlling the sales with a ratings system is by far a better solution. It doesn't stop minors getting their hands on this content but then it is much easier to blame the parents.

I understand that Americans don't like to blame the parents, certainly "not under my roof" so go before I shoot you for trespassing.

I haven't read the brief but I hope the scholars recommended a more reasonable way of controlling access to themed media.

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