Book Dismisses Link Between Games and Violence
Finally, some one who thinks the same way I do! I wanted to post the whole thing here instead of linking to it. Taken from 1up:
With the election season creeping up alongside the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, it’s inevitable that we’ll see (even more) politicians, pundits, and authors decrying video games as a cause — nay, the source — of all social evils. But not all authors jump on the bandwagon, and a new book takes research on the topic of game violence in a radically different direction.
Game Couch has an interview with Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, the co-author of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games. Based on data from a joint research study from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, the book asserts that many studies on the topic of game violence have been skewed by various factors, including smaller sample sets, lower time playing, bias against media violence, and conducting the studies around games that the children didn’t choose for themselves.
The studies from Grand Theft Childhood claim to be different, having used larger sample sizes and focusing on the effects games have when children simply talk about what they are already playing. “We did not set out to prove that violent games cause aggressive behavior,” Olson said, dismissing the studies that attempt a causal link. “Instead, we focused on identifying markers of risk: patterns of game play that were associated with problem behaviors, that both parents and pediatricians could spot.”
Olson went on to explain that games can be healthy in anger management or in “forget[ting] problems, relax[ing], and feel[ing] less lonely.” As for the elephant in the room, the upcoming release of GTAIV, Olson pointed out that kids 12-14 do play Grand Theft Auto games, as it was the #1 series for boys and #2 for girls in the study. She puts the onus of responsibility on the parents to deal with the reality that kids will likely play the game. “So, parents can assume that their teens will play GTA IV sometime, someplace,” she said. “We recommend looking at screenshots, trailers and reviews and getting familiar with the content, so that you can talk with your kids about your concerns.”
That doesn’t mean that the kids playing well below the ESRB guidelines will emulate Niko, though. “One reassuring thing we found is that most children who play GTA don’t see the characters as role models, and don’t see the game as like real life,” she said. “In fact, the ‘unreality’ is one thing they like about the series. They can test boundaries.”