Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent Video Game Law

May 21, 2011 -

We’re all on pins and needles waiting for the Supreme Court to finally release its decision on Brown v. EMA, so why not relieve some tension listening to an academic offer his less-than-impressed analysis of the evidence supporting the violent video game law authored by California State Senator Leland Yee.

Dr. Paul Ballas is a Philadelphia psychiatrist who deals with examining psychiatric illnesses in children and one of dozens who signed an amicus brief in support of the EMA.  At the recent Games Beyond Entertainment conference in Boston, Ballas examined whether Yee's evidence supported his argument that playing violent video games is a harmful thing for the kiddies to do.

Believing that any law based on research-backed harm has the responsibility to prove that it will actually alleviate said harm, Ballas looked at three studies Yee used to support his law.

The first was Douglas Gentile’s 2004 study that surveyed 607 eighth and ninth graders, asking them what types of video games they played, how violent the games were, what the students’ hostility levels were, etc.  Ballas pointed out that none of this self-reported data was corroborated.

"I've worked with 14-year-olds long enough to know that if you give them a long list of questions, and they're bored, and there's no downside to making up stuff, they'll just make up stuff," Ballas said. “What's fascinating is that there's stuff that [the study authors] could have absolutely double-checked, like grades. But they didn't do that. They didn't send requests for report cards in this study.”

The second study was covered in Craig Anderson’s 2004 book “Violent Video Game Effect.”  It measured the blood pressure of 130 college students after they had played a violent video game.  The obvious problem is that this study didn’t look at kids so it’s not applicable as evidence in the first place.  Also, Ballas wasn’t impressed by the increases in blood pressure the students experienced.

“Blood pressure goes up when you do lots of different things,” Ballas said, citing that musicians often report a rise in blood pressure whenever they perform. “It doesn't mean that they should stop performing, it just means that they were excited to do that activity.”

The third study (Jeanne Funk, 2004) measured the empathy levels of 150 fourth and fifth graders after they had played a violent video game.  While Ballas found the measures used in the study reasonable, the study’s conclusion doesn’t do much to support the need for Yee’s law anyway.

“The authors stated at the end of the study, however, that the relationships identified between the source of violence exposure and indicators of desensitization did not necessarily translate into causality. The authors further noted that children with lower empathy scores, and pro-violence attitudes, may simply have just been drawn to violent video games. The study also had a small sample size with no control group for pertinent variables like deviant peer influence and family violence.”

While it’s always fun to watch someone in the know eviscerate a law most of us actively dislike, the big question remains: what does the Supreme Court think?  We’ll find out sometime in the next month or so.  At least, as long as the world doesn’t end today.

Stay tuned...

Via: Gamasutra

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

Dr. Ballas should have been the one giving our amicus brief.

This is it. If the SCOTUS rules in our favor, it's not just CA that wins, but every state that still has some law banning or restricting games has to revoke those laws, because they will be, finally, declared 1rst Amendment protected!

But if Yee wins, everybody looses. Cause every state can pass whatever they want. But we don't back down. We keep fighting, never give up, and never back down.

"This is America. We go in, making bribes and threats until we get what we want!" Jimmy Hopkins

 

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

Not to mention that they likely won't stop there and might begin going after other forms of media.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

I recently read through a report on the Comic book hearings back in the 50s. The evidence and research they gathered actually felt more compelling and reasonable than the crap CA has been pushing out.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

Any examples?  Wertham WAS actually a good psychologist (he gave expert testimony in Brown v Board) but to the best of my knowledge his evidence against comics basically came down to the fact that juvenile delinquents all read them -- which wasn't exactly useful information in an era where ALL children read comics.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

A lot of testimonials from criminals. It was mostly about the sexual stimulation they got from reading comic books. That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

SO in a nut shell his evidence was pretty much the same as the evidence agaisnt games now.

Re: Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent ...

The world hasn't ended in Autralia, where they lack R-18 ratings for games. So we'll find out soon enough.

On that note- Harold Camping can suck it.

 
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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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