Tag: violence

Two violent game studies have been retracted

Two highly public scientific studies which claim that there is a link between violent computer games and real violence have been mysteriously pulled.

The first, entitled “Boom, Headshot!” published in the Journal of Communication Research in 2012 was retracted last January. That study looked at the “effect of video game play and controller type on firing aim and accuracy”, and found that playing first-person shooter games can train a player to become a better marksman in real life.

However Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, found some inconsistencies in the data published in the study. The lead author of the study, psychology professor Brad Bushman claimed the allegations were part of a smear campaign against him and his co-author

By the end of 2015, OSU launched a misconduct investigation into Whitaker, but hasn’t released any details about its findings.

“A Committee of Initial Inquiry at Ohio State University recommended retracting this article after being alerted to irregularities in some variables of the data set by Drs. Markey and Elson in January 2015. Unfortunately, the values of the questioned variables could not be confirmed because the original research records were unavailable.”

Another paper published in Gifted Child Quarterly in 2016, authored by Bushman and three others, caught the attention of Joseph Hilgard, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. The paper had studied the “effects of violent media on verbal task performance in gifted and general cohort children”, and found that when children watched a violent cartoon for 12 minutes, their verbal skills dropped substantially for a temporary period.

Hilgard was surprised because there was such a huge effect which was unusual, considering the effect size that’s typical in this type of psychology research.

Hilgard said that OSU, Bushman, and others he spoke with about the study were helpful and forthcoming, but could not provide information on the study’s data collection process.

The author who collected the data, it turned out, lived in Turkey and fell out of contact following the recent coup attempt. Last week, Gifted Child Quarterly retracted the paper.

“As the integrity of the data could not be confirmed, the journal has determined, and the co-authors have agreed, to retract the study,” the retraction notice said.


Kids are mostly alright

the-who-the-kids-are-alrightSince the 1990s there has been an outcry about the rise of violent computer games which were supposed to corrupt children and turn them into psychopaths. Now studies have shown that the violent games did not make a blind bit of difference.

A group of researchers, led by biological psychologist and video game violence skeptic Peter Etchells, has published an analysis suggesting that players of violent games might face a very small increase in risk for behavioural problems.

The area is tricky because it is possible that people with behavioural problems would seek out violent media rather than have it caused by violent games. Then if you focus on the violence, rather than things like the fact that they are challenging, competitive, fast-paced, these could also cause the problem.

Etchells and his team used a study which was based on games from the ’90s.

The data used in this analysis came from people participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which had started with more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. Around 2,400 of the children in the study had answered a questionnaire on their gaming habits when they were eight or nine years old, and around 5,000 had completed an interview called the Development and Well-Being Assessment (“DAWBA”) at the age of fifteen. Approximately 1,800 children fell into both categories.

The researchers focused on two outcomes of the DAWBA: risk for depression, and risk for “conduct disorder.”

Then, they tried to eliminate or control for as many confounding factors as possible. They looked for children who had been rated as high-risk for conduct disorder by their parents when they were seven years old and removed them from the study. The researchers included family history of mental health, maternal education and socio-economic status, religiosity, family structure, gender, bullying victimhood, IQ, and social and emotional problems in their model as well.

Children who had reported playing shoot-em-up games at the age of eight or nine had a slightly increased chance of conduct disorder. The effect was weak, though; just on the border of statistical significance.

The weakness is that ’90s games are not the same sort of thing. However the research suggests that the problem is small potatoes.

“Some have claimed that the magnitude of this effect is larger than the effect of exposure to smoke at work on lung cancer rates. Our findings do not support such claims.”

Video games do not make kids violent

Yet another study into the effects of playing video games indicates that being human is mostly the cause of agression.

The report was penned by Dr Christopher Ferguson of Texas A&M International University. He recruited 302, mainly Hispanic youths ages 10-14 from a small Hispanic-majority city population on the border of Mexico, as part of a larger study of youth violence.

They were interviewed at the start of the study and again 12 months later to see what exposure to violence both in video games and on television had on them.

The study looked at neighbourhood problems, negative relationships with adults, anti-social personality, family attachment, delinquent peers, exposure to domestic violence, depressive symptoms, serious aggression, bullying and delinquent behaviour.

Published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, the study found 75 percent of the youths played video games within the past month on computers, consoles or other devices and 40 percent played games with violent content. Boys were more likely than girls to play violent games.

No surprises there. During the year seven percent reported at least one criminally violent act, while 19 percent reported at least one non-violent crime during the same period.

What Ferguson found was that violent video games were less likely to feature in the lives of people who were involved in criminal activity. However symptoms of depression were almost certainly involved.

Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, Ferguson concluded.

So in other words if a teen is depressed and perhaps comes from a troubled family, they are more likely to commit crimes than those who do not. Computer games are not a factor – they just happen to be on the scene of the crime saying “it is not my fault the bloke was broke when I got there.”

If the study is right, and it seems perfectly logical, it paints a picture of humanity frantically trying to blame technology for faults that it creates all by itself. A hundred years ago it was cinema, 30 years ago it was television, and now it is computer games. One day humanity will wake up and realise that it is stuffed up and does not really need much help from gizmos.

Games do make kids more violent

The Aussie Christian Lobby claims that a federal government review of research into the effects of violent video games has been too hasty to dismiss studies showing links to aggression,

Ministers called for a review of available research into violent video games to help them decide if an R18 games rating was required. It would effectively allow more violent games to be seen in Oz.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said it was inconclusive whether violent computer games made users aggressive, but the “literature does not bear out that assertion.”

Australian Christian Lobby chief of staff Lyle Shelton said he thought the review had been a little hasty in dismissing the vast body of research showing links between exposure to violent games and aggressive behaviour.

“It does show there’s definitely, certainly, short-term evidence and they’re not dismissing the long-term effects,” Shelton said.

Having grown up amongst the fundamentalist Christians in New Zealand, I can confirm that kids are definitely turned into psychopathic monsters by over exposure to violence.

After all, many fundamentalist Christians kids are bought up to read a book which starts out with the hero drowning men, women, children, fluffy bunnies, cute kittens and puppies for not paying him enough attention. The same hero goes on to fire bomb one town and draw all the water from a woman who happened to turn around to look.

The same hero orders one of his followers to inflict loads of curses on the Egyptians, including killing their first born, for failing to issue travel permits on time.

Next, the same hero orders mass genocide throughout the Middle East, including live stock, for crime of being in the way.

Throughout chapters of murder and mayhem, including scenes where daughters shag their dad, the climax is after the hero has murdered most of the world in a tremendous war. The final scene has the hero raise the dead to life so that he can set fire to the lot for eternity.

Obviously a child growing up with the hero in this book as a role model would grow up into a psychological nutcase whose method of dealing with anything would be to use their fists.

If they didn’t spend their time pulling the heads off badgers and telling other people how to live, they would turn to an Apple hating, fruitcake, who performs black magic in his spare time. 

Computer games might reduce crime

The rise of the use of violent computer games during the recession might have led to a reduction in violent crime.

Coppers in the US have been unable to work out why crime actually dropped when traditionally it rises during a period of economic trouble.

Violent crimes fell 5.5 percent last year and property crimes declined 4.9 percent.

One theory is that the US has locked up everyone who might have committed a crime and the other is that smart, data-driven police strategies have prevented anything from happening.

But Lawrence Katz, a labour economist claims that it is all to do with video games.

Katz thinks that games and Web sites may have kept the young and idle busy during this recession, thus explaining the surprising lack of an uptick in crime.

Video games can not only provide hours of entertainment. They can also give people an outlet for frustration that doesn’t involve actual violence.

The theory is that while video games can promote obsessive, antisocial behaviour and can make violent situations seem ordinary they keep people off the streets.

Gordon Brown's alleged violence rendered in exquisite CGI

As you’ll know, allegations of Gordon Brown beating the crap out of his staff have been flying around all the UK press for quite some time now. A Hong Kong TV show has taken it upon itself to fully render in exquisite CGI exactly what the lashings may have looked like.

The video was brought to our attention by Current TV – Sky 183, Virgin Media 155 – with this post.  The link is embedded so take a look – the good stuff starts happening at about 40 seconds in.


Here’s our rundown:

0:38 – Gordo is apprehended in a hallway and violently pushes his staffer aside.

0:42 – Gordo Tekken-rushes a member of staff with an epic left hook, duck and diving along the way.

0:46 – Gordo has had enough of his receptionist putting through Ipsos Mori polls about whether he’s out of office really soon and throws her to the goddamn floor. He then goes onto her computer to Tweet about it.

0:54 – Gordo HATES riding in cars so he megathumps the back of a fat guy’s car seat to put the Fear of Gord into the other passengers.

1:20 – A still of a bunch of politicians with the caption “fucking ego” over the top.

This is the best thing we have ever seen on YouTube, and we are totally hyped about Dynasty Warriors: Westminster.

Thanks @jordanstone  for bringing this to our attention.