Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin of the Moral Panic Wheel”

November 10, 2010 -

Texas A&M International University professor and videogame researcher Christopher Ferguson has penned an editorial for the Sacramento Bee in which he argues that the state of California is acting “irresponsibly” in its push for a law that would ban the sale of adult-rated violent games to minors.

Ferguson, as readers of this site well know, tends to generate research that is more open-minded in terms of the relation between violent games, youth and aggression. As such, his research was featured prominently in the amicus brief (PDF) for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA filed by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

In his opinion piece, Ferguson wrote that the California attorney general’s staff, and some scholars, “have simply ignored wide swaths of evidence opposing their claims, and misrepresented the strength, consistency and validity of existing research.”

Studies that do utilize “well-validated measures and those that take care to control for other variables such as family environment, mental health, peer delinquency and personality,” stated Ferguson, “find no cause for alarm.”

The professor goes on to state that what effects can actually be measured from playing videogames come in with less impact than similar studies on television, “So it's time to stop claiming the interactive nature of video games makes them uniquely dangerous for children.”

Ferguson then discusses the economic impact of the case:

California is a case study in just how harmful these laws can be, not only in reducing First Amendment protections, but in diverting precious funds into a useless law and away from services that could help families and their children.

Comments

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

Good points, but keep in mind, this bill isn't just targeting "adult-rated" games. It's very ambiguous in it's definition of "violent games", and even "M-rated" isn't for adults only, but 17+. This gives the government freedom to decide what's violent and what's not, and could attack everything from T-rated FPSes to "cartoon violence" in E-rated games.

That's how dangerous this bill is.

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

 You would think the fact that youth violence has declined as videogames have become more popular would end the debate.  

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

Well, not necessarily.  I mean, who's to say that without video games, youth violence wouldn't have decreased even more?

Personally, I'd think the niggling little facts that there is no evidence of children being harmed by playing violent games and this law would do absolutely nothing to prevent them from playing violent games even if they did cause harm would end the debate.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin ...

You raise a reasonable point about the crime/VG data, although wherein some researchers claim as much as 10-30% of societal violence (see Strasburger 2007 in PEdiatrics) can be explained by media violence, the onus is on the "true believers" to explain their theories in light of this crime data.  The "oh it doesn't matter because there are probably other factors even though we can't explain what they are" is both self-serving and lazy science.

 
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InfophileI know the ZE series was in the red in Japan, but international series boosted it to profitability. That may not mean it's more profitable in the west, but it does mean ZE3 wouldn't exist without the western market.07/04/2015 - 7:54am
Consterwhy aren't "Video game players" an option on the poll? :P07/04/2015 - 5:19am
Andrew EisenThat was quick! Pretty accurate cosplay of the new Ghostbuster uniform and proton pack: https://twitter.com/mirabellemusing/status/61673135125394227207/03/2015 - 6:23pm
Matthew Wilson@mast I dont know, but I do know it got a cult fallowing here.07/03/2015 - 6:22pm
MastermuneWasn't the Zero Escape series more popular here than in Japan?07/03/2015 - 6:19pm
Matthew Wilson@mast given the game was revealed in the US, I wouldnt be shocked if it was released at the same time.07/03/2015 - 6:15pm
MastermuneI don't trust the big AAA worldwide simultaneous releases though.07/03/2015 - 5:57pm
Mastermune@Infophile I have come to the conclusion that smaller games like zero escape, JRPG's and the like are actually worth preordering sinc they are limited quantities and since they usually release in japan first we know if there are any issues.07/03/2015 - 5:56pm
Infophile@Matthew! Awesome news. I'd preorder on that shout alone if I didn't have a policy against preordering anymore.07/03/2015 - 5:16pm
Matthew Wilsonzero escape 3 was announced today.07/03/2015 - 4:21pm
Matthew Wilson@pnx I am guessing a ddoss since that is what happened to neogaf, but sony needs to do a investment in psn as a whole. steam is still the most reliable and fastest digital platform I use.07/03/2015 - 3:06pm
PHX Corphttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/psn-is-down-sony-investigating/ not again: PSN is down, Sony investigating07/03/2015 - 3:04pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/digital-extremes-trespasser-keystone-pc/ if true, this is funny and embarrassing for Digital Extremes. companies need too have better security.07/03/2015 - 2:57pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-destiny-the-hardcore-gamers-slot-machine/2300-6425852/ this is very good, and well researched.07/03/2015 - 12:41pm
InfophileOther features to become standard: The ability to remap controls however the hell I want. Quicksave at any time (especially for handheld and mobile games). Plus everything Andrew said07/03/2015 - 10:43am
InfophileRegion-freeing becomes tricky for games with a strong online component though, especially when the servers are run by different branches in different regions.07/03/2015 - 10:41am
InfophileI'm in favor of getting rid of region-locking for any purchased games. I can understand an exception for free, ad-supported games, as many ads are only relevant in certain regions, and it's a ridiculous hassle to get ads for all regions.07/03/2015 - 10:40am
PHX Corphttp://kotaku.com/payday-2-has-been-broken-on-xbox-one-for-three-weeks-1715384186 Payday 2 Has Been Broken On Xbox One For Three Weeks07/03/2015 - 8:44am
Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/3bxduw/why_was_riama_along_with_a_number_of_other_large/ here is a more complete acount of whats going on.07/03/2015 - 1:32am
Matthew Wilsonredit is on fire right now. most subreddits have been set to private.07/03/2015 - 1:24am
 

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