Friday, December 09, 2005

Today's Study on Violence and Gaming

From Next-Gen
A new academic study has been released, claiming that game players are more aggressive than non-game players.

Hell's bells. Is every dipshit with a psych degree and a clipboard conducting a "study" on gaming violence?

There's more, unfortunately.
[the] study was based around showing images to people and measuring their reactions. He showed young men images that were violent or non-violent, and asked them to rate their feelings on the image. Game-players were more likely to be nonchalant about the violence than non-game players, suggesting that they are immune to such images.

Woo! Talk about sophisticated methodology. Which truck would you like to drive though this? It's so obvious I'm not even going to write about it--just pick your favorite and start the engine.

I really can't stand psychological studies, because it's not like they're, um, totally subjective or anything. What can you establish from a small sampling of people when you ask them questions? Not a damn thing, if you want it to be a more generalized proof of something in society at large. That's why psychological studies come out all the time that hail something incredibly important, then the next five studies on the same subject come to the opposite conclusion.

Am I interested in whether exposure to violent media (be it music, films, television, or games) makes people more likely to commit violent acts? Absolutely. Not just kids, either--I'd like to know whether it makes adults more likely to commit violent acts as well. But most of these studies are so poorly designed or so small that they're absolutely meaningless.

Worst of all, most people don't care about the methodology or the data--all they want is the one-paragraph conclusion. If it agrees with their position, then hooray! If it disagrees with their position, then it's "flawed." There's no general consensus on study size or methodology or anything--you're either for me or against me, and that's all that matters.

Allow me to publish the results of a study I call "Me."

I've played games for almost thirty years. In that time, I've easily "killed" over one hundred thousand on-screen enemies. I must be the poster child for being desensitized to violence. Yet I've never shot a gun. I've never punched anyone. Here, for the record, is my entire history of violence:
1. I pushed down Todd Petty in the rain in second grade and felt guilty about it for months.
2. I wrestled Doug Cook in fourth grade for the right to woo Kathleen Burdett (horse girl--you might remember her) and fast-talked my way out of an air-supply threatening headlock.
3. I got ferociously punched in the jaw by Joe Davidson in seventh grade, after which I dropped the basketball I was holding, went into my house, and started to cry.

After thirty years of playing games, which started only a few years after incident #3, there is still no incident #4.

After playing "killing simulators" for decades, how am I not some kind of crazed predator? Why are me and my droogs not out for a bit of ultraviolence?

Maybe because it's much more complicated than that.

Oh, and I'm not implying that Bruce Bartholow, assistant professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of the study, is a dipshit.

I'm not saying he isn't, either. I have no knowledge either way.

And I'm also not implying that people with degrees in Psychology are dipshits. Dipshittedness is unique to the individual and does not rely on education or profession. Call it free will: the dark side.

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