Researcher's New Book Cuts Through the Negative Hype About Video Game Violence

March 2, 2008 -
Gamers and parents of gamers will likely find Dr. Cheryl Olson's new book reassuring.

The Massachusetts General Hospital researcher contradicts much of the standard research on video game violence, offering a real-world approach based on studies of real children. With Grand Theft Childhood (co-authored with Dr. Laurence Kutner) set to release in April, Olson spoke with GameCouch's Terry Bosky:
From the start, our research was designed with parents in mind... we wanted to help parents and policymakers understand what’s normal, when to worry about violent video games, and when video games might benefit some kids.

Olson believes that some of the best-known studies have serious flaws:
The most-publicized studies came from a small group of experimental psychologists, studying college students playing nonviolent or violent games for 15 minutes. It’s debatable whether those studies are relevant to real children, playing self-selected games for their own reasons...

Also, the most-published researchers have built their careers around media violence... [that is] just a small part of what we do, so we could look at the issue with fresh eyes and no agenda.

Olson found that games helped 12-14's sort out their feelings:
This included playing games to “help get my anger out,” to forget problems, to relax, and to feel less lonely... When we began our research, we didn’t fully grasp how politicized and emotional this topic was.

What about the upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV ?
One of the most surprising things in our research was how many kids aged 12 to 14 are playing Grand Theft Auto games; the series was #1 among boys, and #2 among girls. So, parents can assume that their teens will play GTA IV sometime, someplace...

We found is that most children who play GTA don’t see the characters as role models, and don’t see the game as like real life. In fact, the “unreality” is one thing they like about the series. They can test boundaries and try things that, as one boy put it, “hopefully, will never happen to you.

Don't miss the full interview at GameCouch.

Comments

Non-biased research? Who'da thunk it?

I like the cover of the book. It's a nice bait-and-switch trick to people that believe violent games are 100% bad.

"The series was #1 among boys, and #2 among girls."

Surprising to know, that those teen girls are so into GTA. Well, when I was in high school teen girl gamers were hard to come by.

This woman isn't related to the olson (Or is it olsen for them?) twins is she? No matter how sensible and moderate her research appears on face value, I could never support anyone remotely connected to those two freaky little shits.

On the other hand I would most certainly watch a 'reasoned debate' vs 'wild mudslinging' match between her & jack.

Unfortunately, I fear this book may be damned in some way or some extremists will go nuts and the good doctor a quack or something.
I'm skeptical myself right now, but it'll be interesting to see exactly what was written.

I'm going to laugh if the book makes more sales than Out of Harm's Way.

Wait, what? You mean people don't play games for escapism? You mean they don't aspire to be like the people they pretend to be in the games? Nonsense. BURN HER.

...because somebody's bound to say something, reality as we know it consists of videogames NOT being evil destroyers of morality that arm our children and turn them into murderous automatons, nor even a remotely significant factor in any violence committed.

Since, you know, numbers suggest the exact opposite of videogames promoting criminal children, as do other heavily-gaming nations' considerably lower crime rates.

Great news but I wish this had come out a few months earlier, I could have used it in my Dissertation on the perceptions on video games by all people.

I've always said that kids (particularity older kids and teenagers) aren't as impressionable as people make them out to be. They know not to emulate games like GTA and they know it's all fantasy and role playing.
The only kids who are really negatively effected by the games are those with a pre-disposition to violent or aggressive behavior to being with and usually have really shitty parents and bad upbringings in which case even if the games weren't there for them to play they'd just get their ideas and inspirations from something else, like the violence on the 10:00 news or even the Holy Bible. If anything these games are probably good for older kids and teenagers in some ways by allowing them to release their pent up anger and aggression in a fantasy setting while still knowing that doing these in real life is wrong and stupid.

I just clicked on the link above and got a "404 not found" page. Weird. If you search for the book's title on Google, the book site comes up at the top of the list. Hope that works for you guys.

Let's see if this gets rid of that problem with the errant password protection on the link.

http://www.grandtheftchildhood.com/GTC/Home.html

If not, just copy and past this URL into your browser.

I am mother of two gamers. I am also an avid gamer myself who admins a PC game website to boot for eight years. The article and your book only confirms what I have come to learn, and know, over the years in those roles.

The vast majority of young gamers DO know the difference between "real" and "reel". The games do help them work through anger, relieve stress and more. Also for many, it's a way to make friends across the globe while in cooperative play or against another player/s in MP. I remember when the call against too much "TV Violence" turning kids to violence with all the Cop and Cowboy shows....This back in the 50s!

I am looking forward to telling other about this book and getting a copy for my own library

This woman - Give her a fucking medal.

Hooray for sensible, non-knee jerk, non-sensationalist research.

@ Blackice
Seconded

It's really refreshing to see some unbiased research for a change, and lo and behold, they support what we already new.

i love you will you marry me

Wow, I can't say believe I just read that. Oh, and my vote also for the medal. All I can say is it's about damn time someone did some decent research and realized it's a much broader issue.

Take this PTC, NIMF, Jack Thompson, Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and any other anti-game asshat out there!!!!!!

That book pretty much destroys any statement by any anti-game person, whether it was made by Jack Thompson or by Leland Yee.

Dr. Cheryl Olson ftw

I've always considered gaming to be something along the lines of being able to act without having to buy an entire movie crew. Kind of like when you were a child and ran around with your arms out pretending to be a spaceship or airplane. As you get older, your imagination cannot be quite so forgiving, so we use things like movies and video games to help. I suppose saying that someone who plays Grand Theft Auto is likely to go out and commit a crime is about the same as saying Arnie shouldn't be a governor because there's a chance he might go out and kill anyone called John Connor, after all, I'm sure he rehearsed the chase hundreds of times, so surely the moment he meets someone called John Connor his 'training' is going to kick in, his eyes will glow red and we're all screwed.....

The only thing I'm surprised about is that GTA is the favorite series, lol. I mean, i like it sure, but its by no means my "favorite," and I'm 16

Still though, damn good study *claps*

can we send a signed copy to Jackie boy? I'm sure he would appreciate it.

I want to see a Televised debate between her and JT.

Can we get a link to the full paper?
Including conclusions, basic research lines and authorities?

Theres a fair few people I want to mail this to.

Another vote for a medal.

Sadly, this research is likely going to vanish under the agenda rug.

@Strªng?r_Dªng?r

He'll likely take it on TV and rip it up calling it all lies.

@Mattie: If that could happen, I'd be more than willing to pitch in for Dr. Olson's plane ticket.

On anything but Faux news.

damn, Garret beat me to the 'seconded' claim, but I'll 'third' it, and move to bypass committee, and just mint the damn medal myself. If approved, it will be ready on Friday :-). I'm thinking something akin to the staff or crown of wintereenmas. The "Medal of Winter-een-mas". I wonder if Tim Buckley would do the honors of drawing one up =-D.

@GoodRobotUs

That's a great way of putting it. I say we should prosecute all actors who have handled any weapon in a movie and prosecute them "for the children." Its what they're doing to video games, but this one has more factual basis in the "training" than the video game argument does. We can pull it off.

@JT
This study is delicious. You must eat it. Seriously. Eat it, Jack.

I like the term "unreality"- I never understood how anyone could really think they depicted reality, regardless of graphical fidelity. Hell, I would equate games these days to the new action figures. When I was a kid, you enacted epic and "violent" combat in the sandbox with GIJoe figures. Nowadays, the same kind of wars happen on my TV screen (albiet with less creative input from me).

The anti-games zealots like the term "hyper-reality" which suggests lawnmower man or matrix type immersion. The media loves the idea, but I can't begin to fathom how anyone would believe in such a concept.

@Zerodash

That type of immersion could only come with a holodeck.

Hmm, we criticise knee-jerk support for any research which does not support the line of argument we follow, yet one book is released contradicting these claims and we're willing to throw full support behind it despite having no evidence in our hands that it is well written, scientific, or even remotely accurate research.

An excited wave of "We Were Right!" because one paper pertains to evidence, no matter how compelling in our direction...

Give Me the same blind faith and I'll happily prove the existance of a god and the flatness of the earth...

@Sir.Jamesgreen

Apologies for the sudden spur of elation and support, but we have felt a bit...entrenched here in the video gaming community. So when something like this comes about, basically re-enforcing damn near everything that has been posited as the failings of the "video-games equal violence" theory, we tend to get a bit excited.
Truly, we should not be jumping up and down and hailing it until we have examined it, and weighted it for the merit to the person, but, for the time being, let us enjoy an ever so small victory. We'll share the cake, we promise :-).

@ GoodRobotUS

It's Sarah Connor he was supposed to kill. He was sent back to save John Connor, not kill him.

What is this? More of this nonsense. Guess we'll have to go book burn- Wait... what?

This... makes sense? What the fuck? Am I awake?

I've been hurt so many times before /cry, but I like what I hear, but I will tread softly.

I love how this book has a sensationalistic title that will get anti-gamers to buy it, and then they'll realize it is actually contains reasonable pro-gaming arguements.

YES!!!!!

Real, Sensible Research: infinity + this one

Agenda Pushers/chasers: 0

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good to see my hometown hospital pulling through for us. Not surprising that they're cool-headed about this, they've been getting a shipment of toys from Child's Play for a few years now, so they probably at least knew going in that gamers weren't a slavering horde of baby-eaters.

Hell, I'll think I'll give this book a look-see when it comes out. If they've done a good job, I shall add it to my bookshelf. No kids of my own, but I have some relatives with young kids that might be interested.

Holy shit, that sounds so reasonable...let's hope the public figures don't just shy away from this because it conflicts with their whole "what about the children" and nanny-state agenda born out of their ignorance from fear of video-games

@dedre

We all know it'll go down like that.

I believe in miracles
Since you came along
You clever thang

Wait a tick....

Research has defended video games?

Congratulations Dr Olsen, you just killed Jack Thompsons brain.

@ Untouchable

or killed his lack of brain

woot! i might have to scedule an emergency party!!

not only should Dr. Cheryl Olson win a medal, but a plate of cookies, the Internet, and The Game

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

@Billy

True, but that doesn't change the point in the slightest,

Dr. Olsen's remarks are nothing short of common sense. Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to read this book.


That being said though, cue Thompson, PTC, NIMF, Fox Noise, CSM, and CCFC accusing Dr. Olson of being an idustry stooge and a member of the ACLU in 5...4...3...2...

I do hope that Dr. Olson's research has been done in good faith and give her the benefit of the doubt that she is not representing the vested interests of the violence video creators.

if I actually believed in god, I'd send him a love message right now ;_;
 
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