Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent Video Game Law

May 21, 2011 -

We’re all on pins and needles waiting for the Supreme Court to finally release its decision on Brown v. EMA, so why not relieve some tension listening to an academic offer his less-than-impressed analysis of the evidence supporting the violent video game law authored by California State Senator Leland Yee.

Dr. Paul Ballas is a Philadelphia psychiatrist who deals with examining psychiatric illnesses in children and one of dozens who signed an amicus brief in support of the EMA.  At the recent Games Beyond Entertainment conference in Boston, Ballas examined whether Yee's evidence supported his argument that playing violent video games is a harmful thing for the kiddies to do.

Believing that any law based on research-backed harm has the responsibility to prove that it will actually alleviate said harm, Ballas looked at three studies Yee used to support his law.

The first was Douglas Gentile’s 2004 study that surveyed 607 eighth and ninth graders, asking them what types of video games they played, how violent the games were, what the students’ hostility levels were, etc.  Ballas pointed out that none of this self-reported data was corroborated.

"I've worked with 14-year-olds long enough to know that if you give them a long list of questions, and they're bored, and there's no downside to making up stuff, they'll just make up stuff," Ballas said. “What's fascinating is that there's stuff that [the study authors] could have absolutely double-checked, like grades. But they didn't do that. They didn't send requests for report cards in this study.”

The second study was covered in Craig Anderson’s 2004 book “Violent Video Game Effect.”  It measured the blood pressure of 130 college students after they had played a violent video game.  The obvious problem is that this study didn’t look at kids so it’s not applicable as evidence in the first place.  Also, Ballas wasn’t impressed by the increases in blood pressure the students experienced.

“Blood pressure goes up when you do lots of different things,” Ballas said, citing that musicians often report a rise in blood pressure whenever they perform. “It doesn't mean that they should stop performing, it just means that they were excited to do that activity.”

The third study (Jeanne Funk, 2004) measured the empathy levels of 150 fourth and fifth graders after they had played a violent video game.  While Ballas found the measures used in the study reasonable, the study’s conclusion doesn’t do much to support the need for Yee’s law anyway.

“The authors stated at the end of the study, however, that the relationships identified between the source of violence exposure and indicators of desensitization did not necessarily translate into causality. The authors further noted that children with lower empathy scores, and pro-violence attitudes, may simply have just been drawn to violent video games. The study also had a small sample size with no control group for pertinent variables like deviant peer influence and family violence.”

While it’s always fun to watch someone in the know eviscerate a law most of us actively dislike, the big question remains: what does the Supreme Court think?  We’ll find out sometime in the next month or so.  At least, as long as the world doesn’t end today.

Stay tuned...

Via: Gamasutra

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

Dr. Ballas should have been the one giving our amicus brief.

This is it. If the SCOTUS rules in our favor, it's not just CA that wins, but every state that still has some law banning or restricting games has to revoke those laws, because they will be, finally, declared 1rst Amendment protected!

But if Yee wins, everybody looses. Cause every state can pass whatever they want. But we don't back down. We keep fighting, never give up, and never back down.

"This is America. We go in, making bribes and threats until we get what we want!" Jimmy Hopkins

 

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

Not to mention that they likely won't stop there and might begin going after other forms of media.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

I recently read through a report on the Comic book hearings back in the 50s. The evidence and research they gathered actually felt more compelling and reasonable than the crap CA has been pushing out.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

Any examples?  Wertham WAS actually a good psychologist (he gave expert testimony in Brown v Board) but to the best of my knowledge his evidence against comics basically came down to the fact that juvenile delinquents all read them -- which wasn't exactly useful information in an era where ALL children read comics.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

A lot of testimonials from criminals. It was mostly about the sexual stimulation they got from reading comic books. That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

SO in a nut shell his evidence was pretty much the same as the evidence agaisnt games now.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

The world hasn't ended in Autralia, where they lack R-18 ratings for games. So we'll find out soon enough.

On that note- Harold Camping can suck it.

 
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ZippyDSMleeEh still rather subjective… the haters would be better off going after teen and beauty rags and magazines than fiction, fiction follows reality and going after fiction tends to turn into a bullying fest’s… plus its fiction its unrealistic to start with….02/27/2015 - 1:10am
MechaTama31That's a pretty difficult anatomy to break.02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
MechaTama31"the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy" <-- I'm sorry, but we are talking here about the woman who can roll up into a little ball and live to tell the tale, yes? ;)02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
Andrew EisenAs far as examples that could be culled from female game characters though, that one's pretty mild.02/26/2015 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenNot as much the heels or the suit in and of themselves but certainly the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy to show off her lady bits.02/26/2015 - 9:10pm
E. Zachary KnightWell, Samus's heels are certainly impracticable, but I wouldn't really call her Zero suit objectified. I don't really feel that the new Lara Croft is objectified either, but that is my subjective opinion.02/26/2015 - 9:08pm
Andrew EisenTomb Raider: No but we haven't seen much of anything yet. Samus: Yes.02/26/2015 - 9:07pm
ZippyDSMleeWould you call the new tomb raider objectified? WOuld Samus Aran from the new Smash bros be objectified?02/26/2015 - 9:02pm
WonderkarpI'm hoping they put the rest of the comic book ghostbusters in there. Ortiz and Rookie(From GB the game)02/26/2015 - 8:38pm
Wonderkarpghostbusters board game is doing great. getting close too a 3rd extra playable Character. Ron Alexander.02/26/2015 - 8:37pm
Andrew EisenSmurfette is not subjective. If there's more than one female character, it's not Smurfette. Anyway, as with everything on the list, Smurfette is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing.02/26/2015 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI think there's 5 women (out of 15, I think) but other than one being a bit more "hippy" than the others, they pretty much all have the same body type. Especially when compaired to the huge variety of male body types.02/26/2015 - 8:31pm
Wonderkarpso I dont see Smurfette as a bad thing. Unless like all your female characters are Smurfette. remember the Smurfs also had Sassette02/26/2015 - 8:29pm
E. Zachary KnightOne good example of the larger issues is one Anita used in the presentation, Blizzard's Overwatch game. There are a dozen men in the game with a dozen body types. But there are only 4 women with 2 body types, but 3 of them have the same one.02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
Wonderkarpthe smurfette thing is subjective to how many female characters you have. Take Sonic for example. You have Amy, who is obvious smurfette, but there's several other female characters now without that. Including the original animated seriescomics with Sally02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
E. Zachary KnightAE. Very true. I think that is where I was going, but it didn't come out right. Jack Harkness is sexy but not objectified. Whereas, a women would have to be objectified in order to be "sexy" in most games.02/26/2015 - 8:26pm
E. Zachary KnightAnd as Andrew pointed out, there is a big difference between a sexualized man, and an idealized man. But for some reason, there is no distinction between women in games. For the most part.02/26/2015 - 8:25pm
Andrew EisenI think one of the issues we run into repeatedly with these conversations is the confusion over "sexy" and "sexually objectified."02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightYet, for some reason, in orde rto have a sexualized women, she must be wearing lingerie or a bikini. Can't women be sexual and still dress for the job at hand?02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightThe problem I have with complaints of "sexualized men" is that men don't have to wear speedos to be sexualized. Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood/Doctor Who, was one sexy man, but he spent 99% of his time in a WW2 soldier's trenchcoat.02/26/2015 - 8:23pm
 

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