Dr. Olson on What She Plays, Media Hysteria

April 21, 2010 -

When Grand Theft Childhood co-author Dr. Cheryl Olson first became active in generating videogame research, she said that she wasn’t prepared for how controversial the subject actually was.

In an interview with This Is My Joystick, Olson stated that as her research progressed, she felt “morally obligated to correct myths and misinformation that make parents worry needlessly, and may cause them to overlook more subtle but real problems.”

On the pro-gaming side, we all should be thankful for Olson’s sense of obligation. Her latest mass media appearance on CNN saw her inject a heavy dose of logic into the RapeLay debate. Olson commented on the panic that these types of reports attempt to induce:

To be fair, many older adults, including politicians, have never played video games. They may know only what they have heard others say about how terrible video games are, or they may have seen videos or screenshots of the most violent game content and assume all games are like that.

For people who are upset about social change, video games are an easy target to blame. I think that these attacks on video games will lessen over time, as young people who see such games as a normal part of life grow older and attain positions of social influence.

Olson told the interviewer that she personally prefers games with “stories or humor,” but recently picked up BioShock and Portal to play on her son’s computer. The Dr. and her 20-year old son, an avid PC gamer, take a co-op approach to playing games, as it allows Olson to "enjoy the story and graphics without being slowed down by my lack of skill.”

Queried on whether sex or violence might have more of an impact on young gamers, Olson replied:

There seems to be a European/American split on this issue. American parents tend to be very upset about any nudity in games, but more tolerant of violence (especially if it involves aliens or orcs). I personally would be more concerned about games featuring demeaning treatment of women (as in some Def Jam games, for example) or violence aimed at religious/ethnic/racial minorities, than exposure to minor nudity.

Much more over at This Is My Joystick.


Comments

Re: Dr. Olson on What She Plays, Media Hysteria

I think, because of things that have happened this year, that Dr Cheryl Olson is perhaps the BEST thing for both gamers and also parents of young gamers.

When our medium is attacked, there is always a person like Jack Thompson or a politician like Keith Vass, that tries to paint the picture of gamers to parents in a deeply disturbing way.

And then there is a Cheryl Olson...who comes onto the TV sets and she just is like...a clear headded woman who can calm everyone down and thus the media can't hype it up anymore and the politicians and people like Jack lose their momentum because of people like Dr Cheryl Olson.

If there were more people like her, our hobby would not have had these negative stigmas...

Also I love the way how when she was talking on the news about Rapelay, she turned the topic into something that it was normal for teenage or young adult boys to play these games...and just like with Grand Theft Auto it is mostly portrayed as the young male gamers who is into games like these but there are also a number of female gamers who also play games like GTA, and I am also willing to bet there is also a similar number of female gamers who play games like rapelay...but I am more talking about games like Absolute Obediance, Enzai and of course Animenundai that are Japanese visual novels that are more appealing to the female dating sim/visual novel genre.

Plus, Dr Cheryl Olson is perhaps the only person who has related things back to a time where books were being criticised for their violence and things like that, and I feel that we all must do that same sort of tactic when confronted by an anti-gamer who wants nothing more than to bully us in public...

And best thing is, she is talking from a parent who has taken the time to understand games too, so I feel that things are about to change slowly here thanks to people like her...if only she were making games I wonder what sort of ideas she would have in mind for the games industry if she were to work for a developer?

 

 

TBoneTony

Re: Dr. Olson on What She Plays, Media Hysteria

It's nice to see someone with a level and fair explanation of the current state of video games when the various news shows decide to try and create a sensationalist headline or story.  The only problem is if she keeps logically and fairly explaining and de-escalating these situations they'll probably never have her back.  News is less about news and more about trying the scare the **** out of people for good ratings and "mindshare".

On a side note I haven't found it yet, but it's got to be out there online somewhere.  If not, someone needs to do a large historical write up of the (non) moral panic/outrages of the decades.  In the late teens and early twenties wasn't Jazz music and clubs the moral dilemma created by the older generation, then comics and Rock N Roll destroying the youth, then in the late 70's it switched to Dungeons and Dragons and Punk music being the downfall of "morals" and the youth.  Followed by "the rap", and computers that are taking our jobs.  Now we have video games, "the internets", social media, and texting.  I mean looking it over historically we're in an endless cycle of something new coming along that a certain percentage of the older generation just doesn't get, so they decide it's evil and ruining everything, natch Moral Panic!

So here's the plan to stop this stupid cycle, how do we create a moral outrage about moral outrages.  That's right people, one moral outrage to end them all. 

Re: Dr. Olson on What She Plays, Media Hysteria

http://gamepolitics.livejournal.com/257289.html

The above is one of my early GP articles.  It links to a Wired piece that's pretty close to what you're looking for.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Dr. Olson on What She Plays, Media Hysteria

Hmmm, swap "Video Games" for "Waltz" and you have the basic's of it still.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: Dr. Olson on What She Plays, Media Hysteria

Well spoken yet again Dr. Olson. It's good to know that there are reasonable people in the world who are contributing to minimize the BS that big media hypes purely for ratings.

 
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Goth_SkunkIt really bothers me that there is no explanation for the PC's misanthropy. Even the Saw movie series, despite the level of violence in them, had a premise that fascinated me. The only thing about Hatred that fascinates me is the controversy.01/29/2015 - 7:27pm
Goth_SkunkI can't think of a time a game has made me simultaneously want to both buy it and not buy it. On the one hand, I find the premise disturbing and repulsive. On the other hand, I find the controversy fascinating and want to play it just to say I did.01/29/2015 - 7:25pm
Andrew EisenTrailer for new Van Damme movie, Pound of Flesh. "They just stole the wrong man's kidney!" http://vimeo.com/11808880501/29/2015 - 7:24pm
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Goth_Skunk@WonderKarp: And that's why I don't read or watch mainstream news.01/29/2015 - 5:06pm
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