Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

January 15, 2010 -

A new paper penned by a pair of Widener University researchers examines the track record of psychological research used in past videogame legislation court battles and suggests new ways to create such research in the future, so that it might be more effective.

Constitutional Kombat: Psychological Evidence Used to Restrict Video-game Violence” is the work of Beth Donahue-Turner and Amiram Elwork and was published in the Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology.

The article begins by noting:

Although courts have established a clear precedent for overturning restrictive videogame legislation on constitutional grounds, proponents of these laws seem to be relying on the hope that eventually the available psychological evidence on the harmful effects of violent games will become persuasive.

The research then delves into a history of restrictive videogame legislation and the different applications of psychological studies as applied to these cases. The duo then analyze why existing research has lacked persuasiveness in these legislative battles:

Our first impression from this review is that the research results on the effects of violent video games have been inconsistent and equivocal.

Our second conclusion is that none of these studies meets the minimal research criteria that the courts have established as necessary to be probative in a legal context.

For example, there has been no research to address the question of whether violent video games are more harmful than other forms of violent media. In addition, no research has been done on whether violent video games cause long-term or short-term effects.

The pair thinks that substituting an applied minded approach to research, versus theoretical, would help:

… the primary goal of applied research is to solve a real-world problem; its contribution to theory is also incidental. For example, one might study the effects of violent video games on minors in order to answer very specific legislative questions that may or may not be important to psychological theory.

Other suggestions for researchers include: create studies that answer legally relevant questions, use conditions that are representative of real-life conditions (external validity) and to include statistical validity, so “research findings can be attributed to an actual relationship between the scores being measured, as opposed to a chance occurrence (random variability).”


Comments

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

I think the biggest tip to offer for videogame research, is to perhaps try to get a life and try to PLAY videogames before coming to a conclusion.

Because most conclusions have been made up without the slightest knowladge of what is normal for videogames, and to be more in depth, what is normal for someone playing a shooter game, what is normal for someone playing a Platformer game, what is normal for someone to play an RPG, what is normal for someone playing a puzzle game/driving game/sports game/fighting game/sandbox game... even a Japanese Dating Sim game since the entire genre could be criticized in the near future.

Because I can feel that we are all a little bit tired when some anti-gamer person is talking all about how in shooting games you can score points for killing people when in reality there is no point scoring function at all.

If there is any point I can offer for those who are wanting to do videogame research, it is to perhaps...PLAY the games you are talking about.

Also we should define that with many of the 'so called' studies that tried to link videogames to violence have often been used from "Media Science" and NOT "REAL Science", by the deffinition of REAL, I am talking about allowing the science to be criticized in order to see if the results of the research match the conclusion and can stand up to criticism. 

With Media Science or Social Science, they just take popular beliefs and run with them in order to create news or to establish a society opinion but it is rather fake science in reality.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

Quoted from above:

 

"We put a pot of water over a burning campfire, and the watter eventually boils.

According to the limitations of some of the research, we would then blame fire for the water boiling.

However, science actually shows us it isn't FIRE per se that causes the water to boil.  You can get very technical, however, in layman's terms, it is the heat produced by the fire and its reaction to the specific liquid and the nature of that specific liquid that causes it to boil.

We can, in fact, create heat without the fire itself, thereby causing the water to boil.

Additionally, we can change the liquid, apply fire, and that particular liquid willl not boil.  And, we can apply heat without fire to that liquid and it boil, but at a greater or lower temperature than another liquid, such as water."

 

One analogy you missed... If we put the pot of water over the fire, then we are responsible for the water boiling. It's not the liquid or source of heat. It's who brought the two together. In most case, that's a parent who put GTA IV into the kid's hands, and not some third party. But you will never, nevernevernever, see research pin the blame on parents. Ever. Media, developers, publishers, ESRB, retailers, government... anyone but the parent.

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

Actually, the analogy can still stand.

Knowingly placing a pot of water over the campfire, we, in general, KNOW what the end result will be.  There are, however, varibles yet to be taken into consideration.  What is the initial temperature of the water?  What is the air temperature?  What is the material the pot is made of?  Can the pot itself withstand the heat long enough for the water to boil?

A Parent who willfully goes out, grabs a game off the store shelf, without knowing all the variables (the rating of the game, the content of the game, certain factors of their children (are they easily frustrated, are they easily drawn to new material, do they even like the platform/genre of the material being bought), etc), is the person who just grabs something that will hold water and put it over an open fire for the purpose of boiling water.

A Parent who takes even a few minutes to know what they are buying, as well that Parent having paid attention to their child, even mildly, in the past, or willing to pay a few moments attention afterwards to see if there are any negative effects because of unforseen variables and be ready to step in, is closer to the person who makes certain of the conainer (pot), the liquid, and the heat source, making certain the end result is reached without any negative side effects.

Nightwng2000

NW2K Software

http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

None of those problems will ever be address as long as there's an agenda behind the research, and there almost always is. As far as I've been able to tell they never go in with a neutral mind set and are looking to have their biases confirmed.

Not to mention no matter what the research actuially says, idiot crusaders twist the results into something borderign apocalyptic, as in if we don't ban games the next day the US will be bathed in blood, when in fact if their claims were true we'd have been living in a world ismilar to Fallout decades ago.

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

The problem is that most of these studies don't try to be scientific.

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

The fact is, researchers are too lazy to do thorough, in-depth, complete, competent research.

"For example, there has been no research to address the question of whether violent video games are more harmful than other forms of violent media."

More than this, there is no comparison/contrast to ANY other type of exposures, media or otherwise, of differing types.  Also, no in-depth evaluation of the individual subjects involved. 

The complexity of individuals negates any of the narrow research done to date.  Life experiences (ALL life experiences, from the smallest (where even a single tiny event may have, or not have, an effect or many small similar events adding up over time) events to the hugh "life changing" events), personality traits, and changes of those traits over time, as well as genetic predispositions and probabilities, as well as neurological tendancies, among other things that make the individual who they are.  All these DO need to be taken into account to understand what and why a particular individual's immediate reactions to any given situation are what they are.

This means that researchers will have to actually do extensive research on individuals.  And a great many individuals to see the true diversity that is Humanity.  Various other research has been done which could account for many individual's reactions.  Far better than what the individual is exposed to, it would explain WHY they have the reactions to the exposure that they have.  But, instead, the researchers want to focus solely on the exposure being the reason for the reaction.

I suppose, a pretty weak analogy could be used thus:

We put a pot of water over a burning campfire, and the watter eventually boils.

According to the limitations of some of the research, we would then blame fire for the water boiling.

However, science actually shows us it isn't FIRE per se that causes the water to boil.  You can get very technical, however, in layman's terms, it is the heat produced by the fire and its reaction to the specific liquid and the nature of that specific liquid that causes it to boil.

We can, in fact, create heat without the fire itself, thereby causing the water to boil.

Additionally, we can change the liquid, apply fire, and that particular liquid willl not boil.  And, we can apply heat without fire to that liquid and it boil, but at a greater or lower temperature than another liquid, such as water.

This level of detail is not performed in psychological research.  As has been pointed out by many so-called "experts", the individual is taken out of the equation.  And that leads to much misinformation and incomplete research.

Nightwng2000

NW2K Software

http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

Actually the study below does consider the relative influence of video game violence use and television violence use, controlling for other factors.  It was concluded that neither television or video game violence use has much influence on player behavior once other factors were controlled (this is a correlational study with youth):

Ferguson, C. J.  San Miguel, C., & Hartley, R. D.  (2009).  A multivariate analysis of youth violence and aggression: The influence of family, peers, depression and media violence.  Journal of Pediatrics, 155(6), 904-908.

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

Perhaps some psychological research is in order for the folks who continue to use lies and propaganda to push anti-games laws.  These people have demonstrated themselves as having peculiar quirks in common.

I want to know what is going on inside of their heads for a change.

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

TL;DR: Do proper research. 

Re: Tips Offered for Better Videogame Research

I sincerely hope that the irony of that comment is not lost on anyone.

 
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