Video Game Editorial vs. Editorial

In a response to a recent Tampa Tribune Editorial Board editorial backing California’s efforts to ban the sale of violent video games to minors (called "Videos kids shouldn’t play"), psychologist (and associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Texas A&M International University) Christopher Ferguson pens a strong series of counter-points.

Among the litany of valid points made by Ferguson, is the emphasis on the fact that science just does not support what the state of California is trying to prove; a conclusive correlation between playing violent video games and violent behavior.

Instead of running down all of Ferguson’s points, here are a few samples from the article:

As video games have soared in popularity, youth violence has plummeted to 40-year lows. Of course, video games are probably not the cause of this decline, but we now know video games have not sparked a youth violence crisis. The best studies that are coming out – those that carefully consider youth violence or youth mental health, find little to no evidence of harmful effects.

It’s probably time to discard this hypothesis.

Another strong point is about Postal. Here’s what Ferguson thinks about it:

The state of California (and the Tribune) makes references to a single game, Postal. Indeed, this is a vicious game morally unsuitable for minors. However, I’ve reviewed research databases of my own and colleague Cheryl Olson and the Pew Research Foundation in which children report on games they play. Of approximately 2,500 children, not one reported playing Postal or its sequel. So California is paying millions of dollars (which could have gone to children in need and families at risk or used to not lay off thousands of teachers) to prevent children from playing a game they already don’t play.

Read the whole thing here.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    NecroSen says:

    From the article:

    "A law that distracts us from real causes of youth violence and diverts precious money from education and mental health into a law that will help no one is what is truly harmful."

    Thank you. God, thank you.

    Everyone, please circulate this article to as many of your friends as you can. Not only is it a breath of reason and sanity in a drowning sea of ignorance over the California law, but is, in its own way, a commentary on public understanding of scientific findings and fear-mongering news reporting in general.

  2. 0
    Avalongod says:

    Well I could buy that lots of violent crimes go unreported.  But even if that’s true, the youth violence statistics are still valid in tracking trends over time.  Unless you had some rationale for why crime would be reported less often than 20 years ago (given massive efforts to destigmatize victimization, if anything, the opposite should be more likely). 

  3. 0
    Avalongod says:

    No I’m not saying it’s a debate-ender.  Neither is it an unimportant piece of evidence (although in fairness I don’t think that was your point…not trying to straw man you).  I do think the violent crime data gets shoved into a black/white mentality.  Either it ends the debate or its unimportant (again I’m not saying that’s what you said, but certainly the Anderson/Gentile crowd try to make that argument…and in a way that’s hypocritical).  When folks make claims that 10-30% of crime can be attributed to media violence (as folks like Huesmann, Strasburger and others have done), they "open the door" for consideration of youth violence (and general violence) statistics.  Similarly many media violence scholars (Anderson, Bushman, Centerwall) happily pointed to violent crime rates while they were rising, only to hypocritically arguing they’re unimportant once they are on the decline.

    We’re probably arguing over details despite being 80% in agreement, but…debate ender…no.  Worthwhile and important piece of that debate…absolutely yes.

  4. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Sure, but again, it’s not a debate-ender.  Unless the debate is "youth crime has been on the rise since violent games were introduced."


    Andrew Eisen

  5. 0
    Avalongod says:

    I think its intended more a counter to claims that video games have a massive impact on youth violence (10-30% according to Strasburger, 2007). 


    So it’s meant to "kill" the absurd arguments, not necessarily "reasonable" arguments.  However it’s the absurd arguments that too often are being made by scholars and filtering down to the general public. 

  6. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Uh, we didn’t achieve world peace in the 70s.

    Anyway, here’s a fact: as violent games have become more numerous and detailed in their depictions of violence, youth crime has gone down.

    However, that’s simply a correlation.  It’s an interesting fact to point out but it’s not a debate-ender.


    Andrew Eisen

  7. 0
    Aidinthel says:

    Who’s to say that without macaroni and cheese we wouldn’t have achieved world peace in the seventies? I declare that sports drinks are why we haven’t sent a man to Mars yet. Prove me wrong. 

  8. 0
    Monolith says:

    Considering that Postal 2 was supposedly satire, that would mean that not even that would be covered by the California law due to it having merit. This thing really is useless.

  9. 0
    vellocet says:

    I think the California Lawyer actually said that Madworld would "probably" be covered.  So the law is even more useless because with the exception of Postal 2, they couldn’t reliably name another game that would trigger the law, and even the games that would "probably" be covered, no kids played them anyway.



    Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

  10. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "The fact youth violence decreased so much should be the end of the entire debate."

    Not necessarily.  Who’s to say that without violent video games, youth violence would not have decreased even more?


    Andrew Eisen

  11. 0
    Zerodash says:

     The fact youth violence decreased so much should be the end of the entire debate.  Obviously, the anti-games people don’t care about the facts, but the industry has been very lax in promoting this critical piece of information.

Leave a Reply