Grand Theft Childhood Authors Respond to U of Michigan Prof's Criticism

June 30, 2008 -

In the preceding GamePolitics article we covered University of Michigan Professor Brad Bushman's criticism of Grand Theft Childhood.

The book, written by Harvard researchers Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, downplays the effects of video game violence on adolescent behavior.

We also contacted the authors for comment on Bushman's attack on Grand Theft Childhood. Dr. Cheryl Olson shared these thoughts (and provided several of the links):

I don’t mind other researchers criticizing my work as long as they don’t engage in personal attacks... Brad Bushman is absolutely entitled to air his views.

 

Unfortunately, Dr. Bushman has some of his facts mixed up. In the 2001 Surgeon General’s report on youth violence, exposure to TV violence was actually near the bottom of the list of influences on real-world violence – so low that it was relegated to an appendix!

 

He theorizes that teens are more likely to identify with video game characters than TV or movie characters. That’s plausible, but I could just as easily argue the opposite; boys told us repeatedly in focus groups that they enjoying taking the bad guy role in a video game specifically because they don’t want to behave that way in real life. Also, because video games require active control and participation, players are constantly reminded that the game is merely a game.

 

Dr. Bushman’s statement that video games directly reward violence is only partly accurate; anyone who actually plays video games knows that players are not always rewarded for acting violently, and in fact are often penalized immediately or later on (even in parts of Grand Theft Auto IV). The content and consequences in video games are extremely varied, which is one reason that studying their influence is so difficult.

 

Finally, regarding his experimental study of Dutch teenagers playing a game for 20 minutes in a lab: Those teens are fully aware that no researcher will allow them to act in a way that causes permanent physical harm to someone. Dr. Bushman may be a bit too credulous – a view that is supported by a quote from that Surgeon General’s report.

Co-author Dr. Lawrence Kutner added:

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Game Violence Researcher Rips Grand Theft Childhood Book

June 30, 2008 -

While Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson's recent book Grand Theft Childhood has given cheer to video gamers (and the video game industry), a longtime media violence researcher strongly disagrees with the authors' conclusion that violent games aren't all that bad for younger players.

In an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman writes:

Kutner and Olson’s advice to parents is particulary puzzling since their own data suggest that such games are linked to aggressive behavior... Although laboratory experiments can be used to establish cause-effect relationships, they quickly dismiss most lab studies as artificial and invalid.

 

I strongly disagree. Consider a laboratory experiment I recently conducted... Boys about 14 years old were randomly assigned to play a violent or nonviolent video game for 20 minutes... Next, they completed a noise blast task, with the winner blasting the loser with a noise...

 

The boys were told that inflicting higher noise levels could cause “permanent hearing damage” to their partners... These boys were even willing to give another boy noise levels loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage...

 

Violent video games are not the only risk factor for aggression, or even the most important factor, but they are definitely not a trivial factor...

Bushman was among the authors of the American Psychological Association's 2005 resolution which held that there is an increase in aggression following violent video game play. Bushman also participated in a 2007 study which found correlation between violent Biblical passages and aggression. He is also one of controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson's expert witnesses in an Alabama lawsuit alleging that an 18-year-old's murder of two police officers and a dispatcher was motivated by playing Grand Theft Auto.

42 comments

GP Book Review: Halo Graphic Novel

September 26, 2006 -



Halo Graphic Novel

-reviewed for GamePolitics by Matt Paprocki

Transcending the world of video games, Halo is a cultural phenomenon.

While the days of seeing video game characters plastered on boxes of kiddie cereal are becoming less common, their more grown-up progress into other mediums is becoming commonplace, like movies and books. Thankfully, the Halo Graphic Novel exists in a realm free from director Uwe Boll’s influence.Entrusted to the hands of comic masters Marvel, this beloved Xbox franchise is in the best of hands.

While a slender volulme, the Halo Graphic Novel is jammed with four separate stories. Multiple authors and artists contribute their work to craft this gorgeous book, including the likes Simon Bisley, Brett Lewis, and Moebius. According to his bio, Lewis doesn’t even own a TV, but was so gripped by the paperbook novelizations of the Halo universe that he ended up contributing some of the graphic novel’s most vivid writing.

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Andrew EisenAlso, I know it's nitpicking but only ONE of the 21 movies on offer goes for $15. Four more are $10 and the rest are $6. But right now, all of them are $6 (except for two that are free).08/27/2014 - 3:22pm
E. Zachary KnightMasked, What are you talking about? I guess you never buy DVDs either?08/27/2014 - 3:21pm
Andrew EisenNot if they've hired more people.08/27/2014 - 3:13pm
MaskedPixelantePlus, now that they're negotiating movies, that's LESS manpower to negotiate true, pre-2000, non-console-port classics.08/27/2014 - 3:08pm
MaskedPixelanteNo rewatch value, once you've seen it there's no reason to rewatch it, and it's 15 bucks down the drain.08/27/2014 - 3:06pm
E. Zachary KnightIndie movies are a great start. They need a great distribution system too.08/27/2014 - 3:04pm
Andrew EisenEven if that were true, so what?08/27/2014 - 3:01pm
MaskedPixelanteYou do realize that there are going to be NO Hollywood movies on this service, right? It's all going to be indie documentaries and stuff like that.08/27/2014 - 2:56pm
Andrew EisenI think it's an awesome next step for GOG and completely fail to see why anyone finds it problematic or improper.08/27/2014 - 2:51pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4ZGKI8vpcg My feelings on the latest GOG news.08/27/2014 - 12:47pm
Andrew EisenFalcon SNUB!!!08/27/2014 - 11:28am
E. Zachary KnightAh. Didn't realize Captain Falcon was from F-Zero. Perhaps they didn't want too much SSB cross over characters.08/27/2014 - 10:30am
ZenEZK they could easily just put Captain Falcon in (they are using his car anyways) and he would be the most recognizable character from the series for the anime, games, and Smash Bros.08/27/2014 - 9:42am
ZenMasked there are also the two from Animal Crossing that are going to be in it. I am wondering what they will do for the Excitebike level they gave a peek at.08/27/2014 - 9:41am
E. Zachary KnightDoes F-Zero really have a character that is recognizable that could be used? I would think the cars and tracks would be more recognizable.08/27/2014 - 8:55am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/08/27/rockstar-lohans-gta-5-lawsuit-just-jonas-ing-for-publicity/ Rockstar releases the biggest "no duh" statement in the universe.08/27/2014 - 8:07am
MaskedPixelanteI'm just saying, they're giving us an F-Zero kart and an F-Zero track, but their crossover representative is Link?08/27/2014 - 8:00am
ZenMasked, not really sure what your are talking about lol. They will be giving a total of 6 characters, 8 vehicles, and 16 tracks...plus the Yoshi and Shy Guy sets if you get both packs. Not bad for about the price of a single CoD map pack lol.08/27/2014 - 7:02am
MaskedPixelanteSee the flaw here. Blue Falcon car, F-Zero themed track, and Link as a playable character.08/27/2014 - 6:46am
IanCNext Level Games would like to say hi.08/27/2014 - 6:32am
 

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