Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

March 6, 2014 - Andrew Eisen

Anyone think we should keep studying the effects of violent video games?

There has been a lot of research over the last 15 years or so into how violent video games affect those that play them and not a bit of it has convinced a single, solitary court in the U.S. that such games pose any danger to those who play them.  Granted, most of the research is really poorly done, something else courts and various academic reviews have pointed out.  Hell, even the authors of some of these studies have admitted to sloppy methodology.

Then again, maybe we haven't found the true effects of violent video games because most of the studies are not well thought out (or, perhaps, not adequately funded).  Or, maybe this area of study is spinning its wheels because it's the same few researchers (Craig Anderson, Brad Bushman, etc.) performing the vast majority of them?

You know where I'm going with this.  What do you think, readers?  Is it time to give it a rest or should we continue studying violent video games?  Vote in the poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or in an email to us at SuperPACpodcast@gmail.com.  Or both!

EZK and I will discuss this topic and reveal the poll results on next week's podcast.

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I'd like to suggest a related subject for research.  Evidence shows a correlation where politicians, pundits, and these agenda-driven 'researchers' all learn to hate the United States Constitution, especially the inalienable rights granted by the 1st 10 Amendments.

Obviously there are negative effects. I know it! We just need to find them!

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I voted for more research.

I would love to see more, but I think it will need to wait.  Right now there is too much political energy behind it.   The entire field of how things like narrative and language shape our world view and norms is really fascinating and there are real effects in play, but they are not the simple 'game violence => real violence' model funders want proven or disprove.

Hopefully someday games can be folded into that same area of research and take their place with passive consumption and maybe find some interesting overlap between games and the psychological effects you get from places like message boards and how those reinforce, distil, and normalize various patterns.

But right now, I do not think the discussion can be had with any real maturity.  We have one side ranting about how games cause violence like mass shootings, and another side ranting about how it is just fantasy and thus has zero impact, and both sides are, at least according to similar non-video game related work over the last half century, wrong.  Neither community though seems willing to see the more complex reality for fear of the other side declaring victory for their extreme.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I'm all for more research, but it needs to be good, honest research.  Not more of the agenda-driven witch hunting that has characterized so much of what has already been done.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I voted "yes, if we get some new faces involved", largely because I expect that it will shake out along the lines of "no statistically significant difference from other forms of media with similar content". The fact that all the "it's dangerous" papers are coming from the same few people would throw up a big red flag in any other field of research -- results that cannot be reliably reproduced by third parties are, simply put, not results.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

That depends. Can we get real research, or are we going to get research funded by people with an agenda who are looking for a specific answer?

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

That's the part that always irks me. It's not really research if you already have you answer cherry picked.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

Actually... it kinda is.

In research you start with a question and an answer, you use that answer to design a test to determine if works or not.   Hypothesis, theory, experiment.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I think what they are getting at is that the researchers will come up with the answer first, design a test that they think will prove it, then declare it proven regardless of what the data from the test actually shows.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

Considering that it has since been revealed that Frederic Wertham falsified his research into comic books, it makes one wonder if Brad Bushman, Craig Anderson, Douglas Gentile, etc. has falsified their research to make their hypotheses fit.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Solidarity for the Saints = No retreat, no surrender. 2013 = Saints' revenge on the NFL. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I can believe that, but I do encounter a lot of people who believe it is not scientific if you go in with a specific predicted outcome.  These are the same people that tend to complain that you should not present theories like they are facts *headdesk*

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

That's one possibility. The alternative is that if the research doesn't produce the wanted result, it simply isn't published. In fact, it doesn't even have to be that the result is wanted - research often doesn't get published when it doesn't produce a statistically-significant result. In the case of video games causing violence, there are only three possible outcomes of research:

1. Statistically significant correlation between games and more real-world violence.

2. Statistically significant correlation between games and less real-world violence.

3. No significant correlation found either way.

So, if someone does a study and it finds no correlation, that's less likely to be submitted and harder to publish than if it does find something. Additionally, since the common wisdom is that video games might increase violence, but not the other way around, if case 2 does come up (either by chance, by a poorly-designed study, or by an actual correlation in this direction), the researchers are more likely to assume something went wrong in their study and either not publish or go back and redo it.

As a result, there doesn't actually need to be any actual foul play going on in order to create a bias in the literature here.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I wonder how often skipping publication is actually done though.  If you are working on a grant, failing to publish is no minor deal.  Even if you are not, if we are talking academics here (as opposed to think tanks) publishing is how you stay employed and is a significant metric in your career advancement (or even maintenance).  Sitting on something that could go in a journal and failing to submit it is usually not going to be in the researcher's best interests even if the results go against what the sponsor wanted.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

Well I think there are two issues...first, it's less that someone "sits on" data, and moer it can't get published due to it being non-significant.

Two, there's been a lot of talk in psychology lately about how, if scholars get a non-significant finding, by switching up the statistical analysis, it can often be converted from non-significant to significant (see Simons et al., 2011 in Psychological Science).  In other words, social science methods are often loosey-goosey enough that the results are not set in stone.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

To be honest, it depends a lot on the field of research. I can only speak to my own (astrophysics). Here, it's not uncommon for new analysis methods on surveys to not show promising results. While the projects don't get officially abandoned, they often get shuffled to a lower priority than other projects. This can lead to unfinished papers lying in wait until either they're forgotten or superseded by something similar done by someone else.

So it's not really a case of scientists deciding not to publish at all, but focusing their efforts on projects that will have statistically significant results. I can't speak to other fields from personal experience, though.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

Ditto. I'm all for finding out how games and the like actually affects us, for better or worse since it can only be helpful to find these things out. But the second you get someone like the AFA and their ilk funding the "research" you can guarantee the concept of scientific method goes out the window of the car as it speeds down the highway towards that brick wall of the bomb factory...

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I voted yes for research, but at the same time I feel there is a link between visual media and lower levels of mental behavior. You can see concerns about children's mental behavior towards violence by commentaries before video games were contemporary. For example, The Wild Bunch (1969) depicts several concerns of youth glorification of violence; the opening when children are burning ants and scorpions, when several kids circle around dead bodies making shooting actions, and when a child actually handles a gun and shoots someone intentionally.

I know that it's just a movie, but it's a criticism on a state of mind at the time, a time before video game violence really existed. It's by that thread that investments in the overall study of children to media should be considered, rather than focused just on video games.

Re: Poll: Should Violent Video Game Research Continue?

I voted no, there's enough research.

The research into fake "violent" video games has not shown any proof that fake "violent" media "causes" real-life violence regardless of what quacks like Brad Bushman, Craig Anderson, or Douglas Gentile think. For example, Bushman's "research" puts people in competitive situations, making it seem like the more competitive a person is, the more "aggressive" they are. Also, their research tries to claim that short-term "aggression" after gameplay is a long term indicator when it isn't. Meanwhile, other research has debunked their claims.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Solidarity for the Saints = No retreat, no surrender. 2013 = Saints' revenge on the NFL. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

 
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