New research from Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University and independent researcher Cheryl Olson (author of Grand Theft Childhood) concludes that games such as Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, and Halo do not serve as "triggers" to teenagers with symptoms of depression or attention deficit disorder. In other words, video games do not cause these groups to become aggressive bullies, delinquents, or murderers.
In Episode 55 hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight talk about the latest GamePolitics poll, a video game researcher's testimony at a mass murder trial, the Xbox One, the Ouya, and some discussion on the upcoming E3 press conferences. Download Episode 55 now: SuperPAC Episode 55 (1 hour, 37 minutes) 89.5 MB.
Responding to a bill proposed by New Jersey state Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) that would ban "mature" rated games from use in public spaces, Christopher Ferguson, a Professor of psychology at Texas A&M, told NBC that the bill is a typical waste of taxpayer money that capitalizes on a national tragedy to support a war against culture.
This week former Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who is now chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) tried to emphasize that the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act are dead, buried and never to be pushed by his group in Congress again.
"My own view, that legislation is gone. It’s over. It’s not coming back," Dodd told Wired in an interview earlier this week.
He still insisted that the cause of these bills' defeat were due to online petitions and e-mail campaigns that he called "over the top."
Australia New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione is taking a lot heat for comments he made recently blaming the rise of teen knife-related crimes on playing violent video games. Scipione recently told The Daily Telegraph that teens were being desensitized to violence by playing violent video games that reward them for "killing and raping people." Obviously a tired trope related to Grand Theft Auto spewed by politicians.
While supposed experts are quick to blame video games for the recent massacre in Oslo, Norway that left 76 dead, clinical psychologist Christopher Ferguson flatly rejects those conclusions.
Ferguson, a leading expert and fastidious researcher of video game violence at Texas A&M International University, said video games aren’t to blame for this tragedy caused by Anders Behring Breivik. Instead he blames the man responsible for this recent crime, but he also cautions that blaming video games every time a white male kills people is inherently racist.
Dr. Jeroen Lemmens is a teacher at the University of Amsterdam and just last week successfully defended his dissertation and received his PhD, which he believes makes him the world’s first possessor of a PhD in game addiction.
Dr. Lemmens’ dissertation consisted of four articles, which are summarized in a paper entitled Causes and Consequences of Pathological Gaming (PDF). According to the doctor, it’s the first time longitudinal analyses were utilized in order to reveal the causes and consequences of pathological involvement with games.
The paper’s underlying claim is that “adolescent gamers with pre‐existing psychosocial vulnerabilities, such as loneliness, low social competence, and low self‐esteem, are more likely to become pathologically involved with games.”
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).
A pair of opposing editorials appear on the USA Today website, delivering two distinct takes on Schwarzenegger vs EMA.
Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer penned a piece opposing the game industry, stating that the showdown “pits the profits of a multibillion dollar video game industry against the best interests of kids.”
Steyer, whose organization backed California with an amicus brief of its own (PDF), went on to cite American Academy of Pediatrics research to back his choice of sides, research which “declared the connection between game violence and aggression nearly as strong as the medical association between cigarettes and lung cancer.”
Results from a new study seem to indicate that teenagers brains reacted less emotionally the more they were exposed to violence, but another researcher has thrown some cold water on the results.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) performed its study by using an MRI brain scanner and electrodes on 22 boys between the ages of 14-17, according to Live Science. The subjects were asked to press one of two response buttons while watching a series of violent videos in order to rate the current video as either more or less aggressive than the previous one.
It was reported that:
The research of Iowa State University psychology professors Craig Anderson (pictured, left) and Douglas Gentile (pictured, right), in addition to Rob West and ex-ISU professor Brad Bushman, makes up the bulk of the argument for the California side of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA in the amicus brief (PDF) filed by State Senator Leland Yee earlier this year.
Yee’s brief referenced nine studies from the ISU researchers, while Anderson, Gentile and Bushman also helped in authoring the brief’s Statement on Video Game Violence. Nevertheless, Gentile and Anderson, in an ISU press release trumpeting the pair's achievements, wanted to emphasize that while they contributed scientific “evidence,” they do not necessarily endorse the California law.
Eighty-two scholars and researchers signed their name to a brief voicing opposition to the California law at the center of Schwarzenegger vs EMA.
Noting that the issue now awaiting a Supreme Court ruling is subject to strict scrutiny because it attempts to regulate the sale of games based on content, the scholars’ brief argues that California has neither provided “substantial evidence” that games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors playing them, nor does the state “demonstrate that the restriction will ‘alleviate these harms in a direct and material way.’”
Indeed, California does not offer any reliable evidence, let alone substantial evidence, that playing violent video games causes psychological or neurological harm to minors. California confesses it cannot prove causation, but points to studies that it says show a “correlation” between the two. But the evidence does not even do that.
As Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff continues to decide whether to throw his state’s support behind an amicus brief opposing California’s violent videogame bill at the heart of Schwarzenegger vs EMA, Texas A&M International Associate Professor Christopher J Ferguson sent a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune urging Shurtleff to join the game industry’s side.
Ferguson, best known around these parts for his videogame research, outlined three reasons why Shurtleff should oppose the California bill:
While videogame addiction still isn’t recognized by the American Medical Association, an article on the subject in the Dayton Daily News features quotes from Iowa State researcher Douglas Gentile in which he continues to make the push that videogame addiction is real.
The article begins with a mention of Quinn Pitcock, the ex-NFL player attempting a comeback with the Seattle Seahawks following a bout with depression, which, he claims, led to excessive videogame play. From there the article evolves into a discussion on the subject of game addiction itself.
Sarah Greenwell, a Pediatric Psychologist from the Children’s Medic l Center of Dayton, kicks off the piece by stating that, throughout her years of service, she has come across only two kids that were genuinely addicted to videogames.
When not deflating the findings of game-hating researchers, Texas A&M International University Associate Professor Christopher Ferguson often conducts his own studies, including a recent example which indicates that violent videogame players handle stress better than non-players and can actually feel less depressed and stressful following a session with aggressive games.
The Hitman Study: Violent Video Game Exposure Effects on Aggressive Behavior, Hostile Feeling and Depression (press release) was authored by Ferguson and his fellow TAMIU colleague Stephanie Rueda. The study included 103 students from a “Hispanic-serving public university” in the Southern U.S. 62 were male and 41 were female, with 98 Hispanics, three Caucasian and two who declined to answer.
Remember that study from earlier this week which intimated that playing videogames and watching television were linked with attention problems in children? Texas A&M researcher Christopher J Ferguson and T. Atilla Ceranoglu, from Harvard Medical School, saw the research and responded with a scathing (for research anyway) rebuttal.
Ferguson, who has challenged the work of Iowa State University’s Craig Anderson before, and Ceranoglu, who uses games to assist in psychotherapy treatment, submitted their response—entitled Poor Measurement, Poor Controls and Spurious Results in Swing et al.—to Pediatrics, which also published the original research.
A special issue of the Review of General Psychology published this month turns its attention entirely to videogames.
Dr. Christopher Ferguson (left) of Texas A&M International University dropped GamePolitics a line this morning to say that he has published a new study with some interesting findings about media violence.
Ferguson's new work (co-authored by Claudia San Miguel and Richard Hartley) appears in the Journal of Pediatrics and maintains that youth violence is linked to depression and peer delinquency, not consumption of violent media. Ferguson summarized his findings in an e-mail to GP:
We examined multiple risk factors for violence in a sample of 603 mostly Hispanic youth... We assessed results across seven separate measures of youth violence and serious youth aggression, including the Child Behavior Checklist aggression and rule-breaking scales as reported by both children and their parents, involvement in violent and non-violent criminal behaviors and bullying behaviors against peers.
We found that depressed mood and association with delinquent peers were the strongest and most consistent risk factors for youth violence across outcome measures. Parents' use of verbal cruelty in domestic relationships and the child's antisocial personality traits were also reasonably strong predictors of violent behavior. By contrast video game violence exposure and television violence exposure were not found to be predictors of youth violence.