IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders over WoW Research Comments

March 8, 2013 -

Video game developer and Chair of the International Game Developers Association’s Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee Daniel Greenberg offers a scathing rebuke to Republicans in Congress for criticizing World of Warcraft and tax payer dollars given to use the virtual world for research over at Salon today.

Greenberg specifically name checks House Majority Whip Eric Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner, though he notes that other Republicans followed suit in the dust up before Sequestration automatically kicked in earlier this month.

First he points out that their attacks were based on facts that were just plain wrong:

"The facts lay out a different version of reality than the ones tweeted by politicians. North Carolina State University scientists found that playing World of Warcraft can improve cognitive function in older people who were having mental difficulties. The study did not cost $1,200,000, but only $5,000, not a penny of which came from federal tax dollars (it was paid for by the University)."

It was after that $5,000 grant and the WoW study that researchers were given a grant to do further research using different games and platforms like puzzle game Boom Blox for the Nintendo Wii. The initial research did not "pay people" to play World of Warcraft as Republicans had claimed, says Greenberg.

He says that the reason Cantor and Boehner mentioned video games is because it is being lumped into the debate on gun violence and gun control by lawmakers looking for something to blame for school shootings in America.

More importantly, Greenberg points out that vilifying a popular brand and scientific research is pretty silly because most American households have gamers in them. He closes his editorial with this paragraph:

"It’s time for politicians to stop the gratuitous attacks on video games (a retraction and clarification of the falsehoods would be nice, too). No one should make video games or science funding into a partisan issue. Remember, there are millions of video game players in the U.S. and we vote. We can easily determine who supports game research and who scapegoats video games. Because, you know, our cognitive functions are very strong. From playing all those video games."

It should also be pointed out that, while Republican leaders have attacked research funded by tax payer dollars related to video games, there are plenty of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that have done their best to vilify video games and other media as the cause of various acts of real-world violence.

You can read the whole thing here.



Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Where does the public University get much of its budget? Oh yeah, the government (whether directly or through U.S. subsidized Grants and Loans).  If it was a private university it would be another matter.

But yes, a government over $16 trillion in debt should cut back on everything and get its finances in order. Currently the U.S. government budget is over 24% spent on the INTEREST on the federal debt. TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT. I'll make a deal with liberals and conservatives. Eliminate that and you can each have 12% to waste on tax cuts for your voters and government payouts to your friends.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Here's a deal. Cut the military and we speak. No? Though luck. Science improves mankind, rotting shells of ships don't.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

It is an NC public school, therefore most of the non research money comes from North Carolina, not the federal govenment. In addition it is a Research 1 school, meaning most f the money for research comes from *either* the state, private companies, tuition costs, the students/teachers themselves OR the federal government. Since the school states it payed for it themselves I would bet it came from the regular state account.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

I worked with a Mensa member who worked in our call center. Before she left she admitted the only reason why she is working in a Call Center and not trading futures 24/7 would be because she had a government grant to study black women working in call centers.

Between that and a government grant for $315,000 NSF-funded study on whether playing Facebook's FarmVille can help adults develop relationships; $80,000 to examine why the same teams always end up leading March Madness; and a $1.5 million grant for scientists to design a robot that can fold laundry -- at a rate of one towel every 25 minutes



  • how dragon boating can help cancer survivors
  • how canoes can help cultural identity
  • how snorting cocaine creates anxiety

It's just waste. Instead is cutting let's say Federal Unemployment by 10% during the sequester why not cut these useless grants?


Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

The funny thing I've noticed is that whenever people start screaming about frivolous governmental waste on bullshit, they always point at "they spent a few thousand dollars trying to help prevent a debilitating disease," but they never seem to notice "we're buying dozens of tanks at over six million dollars each when we already have a few hundred mothballed in a desert."

Wonder why that is.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

No. What you notice is that Republicans complain about frivolous spending that does not involve the military. However, Those of us who understand the true nature of the budget uderstand that we need to severely cut the military, Medicare and Medicaid too.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Useless is a subjective judgment.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

If Greenberg finds this research to be so important, perhaps he should fund it himself rather than having the government steal my money in order to fund it. Or if he was feeling a little adventurous, he could convince Activision to fund this research.

The main point these Republicans are making is that the government is spending money on things that are not part of the Constitutional role of the government.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

I take it you missed the part where the fed did not pay for the study?

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

'stealing' your money?

Setting aside outdated rhetoric about ownership, the Constitution was never intended to lay out the only roles government can do.  It layed out things the government must do, and things it must not do, along with some structure for how such things work.  It it not an exclusive list.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Actually the constitution was defined as what the government was allowed today. Anything in it was supposed to fall to the states. It was through expansionist efforts that we have the fed we have today.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Also, I must say that I love this: "outdated rhetoric about ownership" Not so sure what is outdated about keeping what I earn. I guess you are more than willing to leave your door open to anyone who wants to help themselves to your property. You probably keep all money you earn in a nice box on your porch for anyone to use as they see fit. After all, that is the "updated rhetoric about property."

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

That's hyperbole and you know it.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Well, of course it is hyperbole. It is just as ridiculous as saying that I should be able to have a say in how my money is spent is an outdated notion of property.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Yes stealing my money. I earned it. I have the right to choose how to spend it. I understand that there are certain roles the government plays and that it needs money to do it. However, I believe that the US Constitution spells it out pretty clear that if it is not specifically outlined in the Constitution as a role the Federal government is authorized to do, then that is left to the State governments and the people.

Scientific research, NASA etc all fall under that.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Courts in the US have been interpreting the constitution for hundreds of years, in a matter a lot more sophisticated than "I believe that the US Constitution spells it out pretty clearly...". You're referring to the tenth amendment here, which states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Okay, so the next question is: What powers are delegated to the federal government? Well, quite a few. Of particular note here, there's Article 1, section 8, which says in part: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

This is one of the most important clauses in the Constitution, as it allows the federal government to do things that are necessary for one of its other duties. For instance, the same section grants the government the power to raise an army and a navy, but not an air force or a marine corp. And yet, no one complains about the constitutionality of the latter two. Why? Well, the judicial theory behind it is that the clauses allowing for a an army and a navy are part of the broad goal of allowing for a military (see the beginning of the section, where it says, "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare"), but the founders had no way to predict advances in technology or changes in warfare that might necessitate other branches of a military. So, under the necessary and proper clause, to accomplish the goal of having a military, other branches of it are fine, even if not specifically laid out.

Similarly, the section has the line, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." This line explicitly grants the authority for copyright and patents, but it also says clearly that the goal is to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" (which, again, is also covered under the mandate to promote the general welfare of the nation). To accomplish this goal, the federal government is additionally allowed to fund specific projects or organizations such as NASA. One could also argue that the progress of science is necessary and proper for maintaining a military force, which certainly covers what NASA does.

To sum it up: The constitution gives the federal government the authority to promote the general welfare (which advances in science do, in the long-term), and the authority to do what is necessary and proper for this (contrary to the beliefs of many, scientific research tends to pay off extremely well... but only decades down the road).

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

And you are working under the broadest interpretations of some of the more vague portions of the Constitution. For many people, such as my self, "promote the general welfare" is not permission to do anything and everything that anyone could theoretically argue falls under that definition. That section is a broad definition of what government is and why the Constitution was written. That section does not describe any specific duty of any branch of governmnet.

As for the Promote the progress section, that is a statement of a goal with a specific method of achieving that goal. It is not a suggestion or a "not limited to" type section. It is "Here is the goal, here is the method." Nothing more.


Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

Indeed. The whole thing is up for interpretation. The authors of the constitution knew it would need interpreting, so they provided for an official judicial branch of the government which would be charged with interpreting the constitution, and determining if various acts are constitutional. On this particular issue, the verdict is that there is zero problem with funding science. See here, for instance, where the Supreme Court lets an appellate ruling stand (meaning a supermajority agree with it) that allows federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. (Unfortunately, they don't give their reasoning for cases they let stand, like they do for cases they hear, so there's no official opinion to discuss, simply the result.)

Of course, the Supreme Court is comprised of humans, and they've made mistakes and horrible decisions in the past. But the fact is, if they say X is constitutional, it's by definition constitutional. That's how the US government works. If the people don't like it, they can vote in people to the executive branch who will appoint better justices in the future, so that a bad decision can be revisited, or they can work to amend the constitution to change its language to clearly allow or forbid something (or even change the role of the Supreme Court itself). But until and unless that happens, the Supreme Court has said scientific funding is constitutional, and that's that.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

So the government should not fund research?  I hope you know that government money in research has lead to a greater understanding of science and has helped to invent many of the things we enjoy everyday, Like the internet. Hell take NASA for example. That is not one of the governments jobs but look at all the achievements that has come from it. You need to look at the big picture, If we stuck to a Constitutional role the country would not have come as far as it has.

Re: IGDA's Daniel Greenberg Lays Into Republican Leaders ...

The Federal Government is also one of the biggest hindrances to medical advancement, food production and distribution and a wide swath of personal property rights. They have the ability to take a $1000 project and turn it into a $100,000 job. They have the ability to take from one sector or group of people and give it to another and reduce the value of what they have taken at the same time.

The Federal Government is not benevolent. It has its uses as long as those uses revolve around the idea of protecting life liberty and property as long as those uses are based on Constitutional principles. The Government is instituted to be operated under the consent of the people.

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