Psychologist Jerry Weichman Clarifies Bulletstorm Comments

Clinical psychologist and self-proclaimed adolescent specialist Jerry Weichman has clarified his position on comments made to Fox News that were used in a Bulletstorm hit piece written by John Brandon. Responding to a request for comment by Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Weichman said that he stands by his comments to Fox News, but adds that those comments do not clearly state his full opinion on violence, video games, and his position on mature rated games.

First, Weichman defends his comments in the Fox News article ("If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm’s explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant. Violent video games like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems"), saying that greater regulation on videogames is necessary, because of this. He cites his own experience with teenagers as a psychologist, but does not provide any research data to back up his claims:

"My experience as an adolescent psychologist lies the behavioral work I have done with thousands of teens, including many teen gaming addicts. My opinion, as stated in my quote, is that there is potential to do harm, but certainly this is not the outcome for 100 percent of the game’s users. And obviously the folks at ESRB agree, since it’s rated M for Mature and was not designed for young audiences."

Despite sticking to what he told Fox News, Weichman says that he sees no problem with mature game content being enjoyed by the audience it is intended for, adding that he enjoys playing games such as Halo and Call of Duty. He does admit that his comments on Bulletstorm were based on several videos he watched online. He has not played the demo:

"I have not played it but seen videos of its content. As an adult, I enjoy playing first-person shooter games like Halo and Call of Duty and do so in my spare time quite often. But I would certainly not want my child exposed to these games either. Mature content should be reserved for mature or adult users."

The most interesting quote from Weichman is about parental responsibility and his disappointment that the article didn’t offer some resources for parents to check out:

"My work with teens leads me to put the bulk of the responsibility on the parent and I wish that the article had given parents more information or tips on ways they can monitor their child’s gaming activities to insure that they are playing games which contain content appropriate for the individual child’s maturity level. It’s not easy being a parent today when many children are more technologically-advanced than their parents but ultimately the parents cannot just rely on the “system” for their child’s safety. They have to educate themselves, stay involved in the content entering their home, and work a little harder to make sure that they are aware of what their kid is doing."

Read the whole thing here. You can check out his web site here.

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