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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MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
 

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