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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DocMelonheadIP: Should we call out Game Politics for their refusal to exclude all of Gamergate that isn't Hate speech or harassment? Because that is what your attitude tells me.08/03/2015 - 6:28pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Come on, man. You HAVE to realize that I was just goofing around with my 6:17 comment.08/03/2015 - 6:28pm
DocMelonheadIP: As for TotalBiscuit, do you suggest that we should branded him as a bigoted liar and a fraud just because he buys into the whole "Gamergate" mission statement?08/03/2015 - 6:26pm
MattsworknameAnderw: Youtube is a great place cause everyone can say anything, doesn't make it a bation of ethics08/03/2015 - 6:26pm
MattsworknameIp: As I've said, I long ago came to the conlusion that I have no need to bother arguing with you, you long ago robbed yourself of any credibiltiy. I just let your hatred and bias shine on for all to see.08/03/2015 - 6:24pm
MattsworknameAndrew: Im totally cool it that, just cause im a jaded skeptic doesn't mean im not aware of the situatoin, and you teasing me for it is totally what I would expect if the roles were reveersed08/03/2015 - 6:22pm
DocMelonheadAlso the lie's only in regard to gamerGate, which you, IP, wanted us to denounce it as a fraud.08/03/2015 - 6:21pm
Andrew EisenI'm on YouTube. I've got journalistic ethics out the wazoo. Therefore, YouTube is a bastion of ethics. Science says so!08/03/2015 - 6:17pm
DocMelonheadIP: drop it, man, we get it: Total Biscuit Defamed Leigh Alexander, and encourage the harassment campaign.08/03/2015 - 6:17pm
IronPatriotSo far, total FAILURE in defending TotalBiscuit's lies and distortions which I posted.08/03/2015 - 6:17pm
IronPatriotIt's HILARIOUS that Mattsworkname fails to discredit a single fact posted on medium.com, so he tries to dicredit ALL of medium.com. OK, prove the jounalistic ethics of Youtube, home of your gamergate hero TotalLYINGBiscuit. LOL.08/03/2015 - 6:15pm
Andrew EisenYou realize I'm going to tease you with this every time you link something now, right? Bwa ha ha!08/03/2015 - 6:09pm
MattsworknameAndew: im a jaded skeptic with way to much mistrust of media, sadly, thats hard for me to do anymore08/03/2015 - 6:07pm
Andrew EisenI would advise evaluating what's said by what's said, not where it's said.08/03/2015 - 6:05pm
Mattsworknamealso, I ment unfettered08/03/2015 - 6:05pm
MattsworknameAndrew:: Noit on facebook, not on twitter, not really on reddit. And on youtube im very skeptical about content from scertain sources08/03/2015 - 6:04pm
MattsworknameDoc: I don't think anyone argues that there were jerks and others who latchs onto the movments, but it was a small portion of the activity around that movment08/03/2015 - 6:03pm
DocMelonheadIP: Give GamerGate a rest okay; we get it, it's a cover for bigots to continue their hate speech and harassment against minorities.08/03/2015 - 6:01pm
Andrew EisenMatt - "unettered"? What was that supposed to be? Anyway, so, I imagine you turn your nose up at anything written on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or said on YouTube?08/03/2015 - 6:00pm
DocMelonheadThen again, none of this matter since what TB did is victim blaming on a minority for receiving harassment.08/03/2015 - 5:59pm
 

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