Grand Theft Childhood Authors Respond to U of Michigan Prof's Criticism

June 30, 2008 -

In the preceding GamePolitics article we covered University of Michigan Professor Brad Bushman's criticism of Grand Theft Childhood.

The book, written by Harvard researchers Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, downplays the effects of video game violence on adolescent behavior.

We also contacted the authors for comment on Bushman's attack on Grand Theft Childhood. Dr. Cheryl Olson shared these thoughts (and provided several of the links):

I don’t mind other researchers criticizing my work as long as they don’t engage in personal attacks... Brad Bushman is absolutely entitled to air his views.

 

Unfortunately, Dr. Bushman has some of his facts mixed up. In the 2001 Surgeon General’s report on youth violence, exposure to TV violence was actually near the bottom of the list of influences on real-world violence – so low that it was relegated to an appendix!

 

He theorizes that teens are more likely to identify with video game characters than TV or movie characters. That’s plausible, but I could just as easily argue the opposite; boys told us repeatedly in focus groups that they enjoying taking the bad guy role in a video game specifically because they don’t want to behave that way in real life. Also, because video games require active control and participation, players are constantly reminded that the game is merely a game.

 

Dr. Bushman’s statement that video games directly reward violence is only partly accurate; anyone who actually plays video games knows that players are not always rewarded for acting violently, and in fact are often penalized immediately or later on (even in parts of Grand Theft Auto IV). The content and consequences in video games are extremely varied, which is one reason that studying their influence is so difficult.

 

Finally, regarding his experimental study of Dutch teenagers playing a game for 20 minutes in a lab: Those teens are fully aware that no researcher will allow them to act in a way that causes permanent physical harm to someone. Dr. Bushman may be a bit too credulous – a view that is supported by a quote from that Surgeon General’s report.

Co-author Dr. Lawrence Kutner added:

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Game Violence Researcher Rips Grand Theft Childhood Book

June 30, 2008 -

While Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson's recent book Grand Theft Childhood has given cheer to video gamers (and the video game industry), a longtime media violence researcher strongly disagrees with the authors' conclusion that violent games aren't all that bad for younger players.

In an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman writes:

Kutner and Olson’s advice to parents is particulary puzzling since their own data suggest that such games are linked to aggressive behavior... Although laboratory experiments can be used to establish cause-effect relationships, they quickly dismiss most lab studies as artificial and invalid.

 

I strongly disagree. Consider a laboratory experiment I recently conducted... Boys about 14 years old were randomly assigned to play a violent or nonviolent video game for 20 minutes... Next, they completed a noise blast task, with the winner blasting the loser with a noise...

 

The boys were told that inflicting higher noise levels could cause “permanent hearing damage” to their partners... These boys were even willing to give another boy noise levels loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage...

 

Violent video games are not the only risk factor for aggression, or even the most important factor, but they are definitely not a trivial factor...

Bushman was among the authors of the American Psychological Association's 2005 resolution which held that there is an increase in aggression following violent video game play. Bushman also participated in a 2007 study which found correlation between violent Biblical passages and aggression. He is also one of controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson's expert witnesses in an Alabama lawsuit alleging that an 18-year-old's murder of two police officers and a dispatcher was motivated by playing Grand Theft Auto.

42 comments

GP Book Review: Halo Graphic Novel

September 26, 2006 -



Halo Graphic Novel

-reviewed for GamePolitics by Matt Paprocki

Transcending the world of video games, Halo is a cultural phenomenon.

While the days of seeing video game characters plastered on boxes of kiddie cereal are becoming less common, their more grown-up progress into other mediums is becoming commonplace, like movies and books. Thankfully, the Halo Graphic Novel exists in a realm free from director Uwe Boll’s influence.Entrusted to the hands of comic masters Marvel, this beloved Xbox franchise is in the best of hands.

While a slender volulme, the Halo Graphic Novel is jammed with four separate stories. Multiple authors and artists contribute their work to craft this gorgeous book, including the likes Simon Bisley, Brett Lewis, and Moebius. According to his bio, Lewis doesn’t even own a TV, but was so gripped by the paperbook novelizations of the Halo universe that he ended up contributing some of the graphic novel’s most vivid writing.

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Wonderkarpthough not strictly games. I have Lightsabers mounted on the wall, and on a shelf you'll see the Infinity Gauntlet, the Ocarina of Time, a Sith Holocron, and some of my Ghostbusters Props11/22/2014 - 8:57pm
Wonderkarpswag of all kinds, Andrew. I'm trying to build a game room as impressive as AVGNs nerd room. I'm also trying to build a coffee table/storage space shaped like a NES Controller11/22/2014 - 8:55pm
E. Zachary KnightI need new controllers for my Gamecube. Its not everyday you can get brand new 1st party controllers.11/22/2014 - 8:51pm
Andrew EisenPredominately figurines or swag of all kinds?11/22/2014 - 8:37pm
WonderkarpI would like a new gamecube controller....but I also just like gaming swag....11/22/2014 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI'm just waiting to buy a new Gamecube controller for my Gamecube.11/22/2014 - 7:15pm
Wonderkarphttp://kotaku.com/smash-bros-gamecube-adapters-sold-out-online-prices-g-1662162871 Smash Bros Gamecube adapter sold out, online prices go nuts11/22/2014 - 6:50pm
Andrew EisenI bet there's a lovely comedy of errors surrounding that list's journey to the IGDA's page!11/22/2014 - 6:49pm
Andrew EisenAnd the fact that it was curated by some random person on Twitter should have been another.11/22/2014 - 6:48pm
Andrew EisenYep, it's pretty clear that whoever at the IGDA grabbed that list, didn't look at it first. I think the fact that there's over 10,000 names on it should have been a bit of a red flag.11/22/2014 - 6:44pm
Wonderkarppenguin books is on the list. wow.11/22/2014 - 6:43pm
Wonderkarpthats better, though I'd prefer something a little more than a simple tweet, I'll take it.11/22/2014 - 6:37pm
Andrew EisenKate Edwards' Twitter: "like people, tools are imperfect; we've removed it for now."11/22/2014 - 6:35pm
Andrew EisenHard to say with any certainty but it appears it at least understands the tool didn't do what it thought it did.11/22/2014 - 6:34pm
WonderkarpI've yet to find the IGDA responding too the situation other than deleting a link.11/22/2014 - 6:34pm
Matthew WilsonI hope the IGDA understands why its a mistake, that's all I want.11/22/2014 - 6:33pm
Andrew EisenHeh, lawyering up would be grossly overracting! And really silly. Well, if what the IGDA did say was not enough for you, try contacting them and letting them know how you feel.11/22/2014 - 6:31pm
Wonderkarpall I want is an apology from the IGDA. nothing fancy, not even addressed to me. Just something that says, "We messed up. We're Sorry" thats it. Not exactly those words except Sorry. If I was overreacting, I'd be lawyering up.11/22/2014 - 6:29pm
Andrew EisenI get it, I just think you're taking it the wrong way and overreacting.11/22/2014 - 6:27pm
Wonderkarpatleast Matthew understands why I am miffed at that list11/22/2014 - 6:26pm
 

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