Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin of the Moral Panic Wheel”

November 10, 2010 -

Texas A&M International University professor and videogame researcher Christopher Ferguson has penned an editorial for the Sacramento Bee in which he argues that the state of California is acting “irresponsibly” in its push for a law that would ban the sale of adult-rated violent games to minors.

Ferguson, as readers of this site well know, tends to generate research that is more open-minded in terms of the relation between violent games, youth and aggression. As such, his research was featured prominently in the amicus brief (PDF) for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA filed by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

In his opinion piece, Ferguson wrote that the California attorney general’s staff, and some scholars, “have simply ignored wide swaths of evidence opposing their claims, and misrepresented the strength, consistency and validity of existing research.”

Studies that do utilize “well-validated measures and those that take care to control for other variables such as family environment, mental health, peer delinquency and personality,” stated Ferguson, “find no cause for alarm.”

The professor goes on to state that what effects can actually be measured from playing videogames come in with less impact than similar studies on television, “So it's time to stop claiming the interactive nature of video games makes them uniquely dangerous for children.”

Ferguson then discusses the economic impact of the case:

California is a case study in just how harmful these laws can be, not only in reducing First Amendment protections, but in diverting precious funds into a useless law and away from services that could help families and their children.

Comments

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

Good points, but keep in mind, this bill isn't just targeting "adult-rated" games. It's very ambiguous in it's definition of "violent games", and even "M-rated" isn't for adults only, but 17+. This gives the government freedom to decide what's violent and what's not, and could attack everything from T-rated FPSes to "cartoon violence" in E-rated games.

That's how dangerous this bill is.

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

 You would think the fact that youth violence has declined as videogames have become more popular would end the debate.  

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

Well, not necessarily.  I mean, who's to say that without video games, youth violence wouldn't have decreased even more?

Personally, I'd think the niggling little facts that there is no evidence of children being harmed by playing violent games and this law would do absolutely nothing to prevent them from playing violent games even if they did cause harm would end the debate.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

You raise a reasonable point about the crime/VG data, although wherein some researchers claim as much as 10-30% of societal violence (see Strasburger 2007 in PEdiatrics) can be explained by media violence, the onus is on the "true believers" to explain their theories in light of this crime data.  The "oh it doesn't matter because there are probably other factors even though we can't explain what they are" is both self-serving and lazy science.

 
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Mattsworknameall I know is that whatever else it is, its gonna look good, cause the tech nowadays means you can do so much more with it.05/06/2015 - 9:39pm
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Goth_SkunkI know. :P05/06/2015 - 8:13pm
Andrew EisenGoth - Great. Just don't be a dick about it! (not aimed at you)05/06/2015 - 8:13pm
Matthew Wilson@goth do it in a reasonable manner thought. do not harass her.05/06/2015 - 8:13pm
Mattsworknamelots of gamers fall into that p roblem, as do some feminists and other grooups05/06/2015 - 8:11pm
Goth_SkunkI think when someone is as influential as Sarkeesian is, having and espousing that opinion is dangerous. It has to be challenged. She has to be told, 'No, you're wrong about this.' And her influence should suffer as a result.05/06/2015 - 8:11pm
Mattsworknamegg has its bad actors and most moderate ggs dislike or outright work against them. be careful not to let your own hate or bias make you act like those you accuse05/06/2015 - 8:10pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Hell, sometimes minorities (peoples, opinions, whatever) themselves are just so damn scary to a number of the majority that they get marginalized whether there were so called bad actors or not.05/06/2015 - 8:09pm
Mattsworknamemechacrash, my point was that groups get marked by the actions of minoritys among them. as andrew points out, this isn't just feminist or gg, it's universal due to the wide spread use of social media05/06/2015 - 8:07pm
Andrew EisenI meant there's nothing wrong with having that opinion, not that it's completely unassailable. It's certainly not.05/06/2015 - 8:07pm
Andrew EisenOf course she does. She's linked to several of them.05/06/2015 - 8:05pm
 

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