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Violent videogame research has flawed methodology

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Media Coalition has released a 13-page report entitled “Only a Game: Why Censoring New Media Won’t Stop Gun Violence” the conclusion of which is that the theory that media such as videogames and movies can cause people to kill is based on flawed research and that the people who support it disregard the fact that there is a growing amount of evidence to the contrary.

Media Coalition is an American organisation that defends the right to free speech for mainstream media. Its Executive Director, David Horowitz made the following statement to gamepolitics.com:

 “The claim that video games cause violence has become a convenient narrative that is just not supported by the facts and is used as a crutch to avoid the more complex – if politically unpopular – issues…Our report explains that when independent bodies review the research they find no studies that show that video games cause actual violence, and the studies that claim a connection between new media and aggression are flawed, in dispute, and ignore obvious explanations for their results.” 

May I add the loud rejoinder of “DUH.”

The report states the governments of Australia, Great Britain and Sweden each recently conducted their own reviews of research claiming a link between violence in videogames and aggression and reached the conclusion that this research is both inconclusive and flawed. As a result, none of these three countries have imposed restrictions on videogames containing violent imagery and plotlines – despite the fact that none of these countries protect the right to free speech as stringently as the United States.

Some key findings of the study were that:

1. Crime statistics do not support the theory that new media causes violence – In fact it was found that in national populations, including America, statistics show that more videogame sales correlate with less crime.

2. Research into the effects of video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive. Much of it suffers from methodological deficiencies and provides insufficient data to prove a causal relationship – In 2011, while striking down a California law aimed at restriction on the sale of violent videogames, the US Supreme court ‘…noted that the scientific evidence the state relied upon had been rejected by nearly every court to consider it, and that “most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.”’

Embarrassing.

It’s good to know that important people are taking notice of the fact that very often the researchers looking to find a link between violence in videogames and violence in RL are not always unbiased in their approach to the research topic. I understand that these researchers may feel pressured by certain media groups and/or social organisations to reach a particular desired result as we as human beings feel the need to have something specific to blame in the face of tragedy. However, the flaws in the methodology of this research mean that we seem to be pointing fingers at the wrong parties. Perhaps this report will put us on the road to accepting societal and, very importantly, personal responsibility for violent behaviour.

You can read the full report here.

Another article on this topic can be found here.

Stephanie's Twitter / MWEB Gamezone Twitter | Facebook

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