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.