Wired on Lieberman and the Game-Rape Correlation

Game | Life is the latest outlet to talk to psychologist Carole Lieberman about her recent "games cause rape" comments to Fox News. Much like every other outlet that has sought out an explanation for those outlandish comments (or some evidence to back those comments up), Wired instead finds a wall. And let’s face it, there’s no back pedaling from the fantastic conclusion that Lieberman drew in that Fox News article.

The most interesting comments don’t come from Lieberman in Wired’s piece – they come from Iowa State University professor Douglas A. Gentile, who soundly squelches her claim that there are "thousands of studies" that draw some sort of correlation between sexual scenes in games and real world sexual assault.

"I don’t know where [Lieberman] would get any evidence for this opinion," said Iowa State University professor Douglas A. Gentile, who has studied media violence since 1999. "There’s really very little to substantiate her claims in research literature."

In a phone interview with Wired, Gentile could not think of any modern games that contain real sexual content. Games like "Leisure Suit Larry and Custer’s Revenge," Gentile said, are hard to find on store shelves.

In her extended conversations with Wired through email and on the phone, Lieberman continued to say that there are a number of studies that support what she says. At the end of it she went from "thousands" to "hundreds" of studies:

"Over the years, I have read hundreds of studies linking videogames to violence. Rape, as a violent act, is implied in them," she wrote in an e-mail. "When videogames are violent and sexual, it causes the players to become desensitized to rape and think it is a ‘game.’"

Unfortunately for her, not one researcher that commented in the Wired article agreed with her. Another example:

"No serious researcher is linking playing violent videogames with criminal violence," Gentile said. "There is good evidence that playing violent videogames will lead to increases in aggressive behavior, and violence is a very extreme subtype of physical aggression … but there is almost no evidence that playing a violent videogame has a clear causal link to that level of serious criminal violence."

Unfortunately for Lieberman, it is too late to say what she should have said right after that Fox News article was published: "I was mistaken."

Read the full article here. It is an interesting dissection of the whole situation.

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