Study: No Link Between School Shooters And Violent Games

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Study: No Link Between School Shooters And Violent Games


New research by Professor Christopher J. Ferguson of Texas A&M University [http://www.tamu.edu/] concludes that there is "no significant relationship" between violent videogames and school shootings, and strongly criticizes "faulty" claims that such a relationship exists.

Ferguson's report, The School Shooting/Violent Videogame Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?, begins with a short overview of current research on the impact of violent videogames on behavior, saying that the results of such studies are "mixed," with some supporting a link between violent gaming and aggressive behavior and others finding no such link. But results are tainted by numerous factors, he says, including the failure to include "third" variables such as personality, family violence and genetics, as well as the "considerable difficulty in generalizing the results from laboratory tests of aggression to real world serious acts of aggression."

Lacking a solid body of facts, Ferguson said videogame opponents rely instead on the creation of "moral panic" to popularize their views. "A moral panic occurs when a segment of society believes that the behavior or moral choices of others within that society poses a significant risk to the society as a whole," he explained. "Moral panics may emerge from 'culture wars' occurring in a society, although moral beliefs often become disguised as scientific 'research,' oftentimes of poor quality." Real causes of violent crime, like family environment and poverty, are difficult problems to address, he said, while videogames present a "straw man" that politicians can use to create the appearance of taking action. The media also has a hand in promoting such panics, indulging the public appetite for sensationalism regardless of the actual facts at hand.

Even scientists can be prone to using moral panics to forward their agendas, according to Ferguson. "It has been observed that a small group of researchers have been most vocal in promoting the anti-game message, oftentimes ignoring research from other researchers, or failing to disclose problems with their own research," he wrote. "As some researchers have staked their professional reputation on anti-game activism, it may be difficult for those researchers to maintain scientific objectivity regarding the subject of their study."

Ferguson notes the fact that police arrest and crime victimization data have shown that while violent videogames have become more prevalent in society, violent crime has decreased dramatically, not just in the U.S. but in Canada, Australia, the E.U. and U.K. as well. "For our understanding of [school shootings] to progress, we must move past the moral panic on videogames and other media and take a hard look at the real causes of serious aggression and violence," he wrote. "As presented here, the wealth of evidence, from social science research on videogames, to governmental reports and legal cases, to real world data on crime, fails to establish a link between violent videogames and violent crime, including school shootings. The link has not merely been unproven; I argue that the wealth of available data simply weighs against any causal relationship."

Ferguson, an assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M's Department of Behavioral, Applied Sciences and Criminal Justice, holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has published peer-reviewed papers and books on the topics of violent criminal behavior and the influences of videogames and other violent media. The full text of The School Shooting/Violent Videogame Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic? can be downloaded here [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/121556773/PDFSTART?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0]. (PDF format)

Source: GamePolitics. [http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/01/21/researcher-no-link-between-violent-games-amp-school-shootings]

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DamienHell

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Oct 17, 2007
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Good Post, we've all known this for a while. Wierd how it goes down,up,down,up,etc
EDIT: I'm going to add on to this cause video game haters are going to read this and go. "AAHHHH! ITS A LIE! PEOPLE HAVE KILLED OVER VIDEO GAMES!" Yes, yes they have. But humans like killing each other, people have killed each other over everything, ever! That guy shot the president because of a movie! Do movies cause violence? No. The controvercy is whether or not video games make the majority of people who play them kill people, and they don't.
 

Trivun

Stabat mater dolorosa
Dec 13, 2008
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Thing is, even if there was a positive corrolation (i.e. as violent video games sold rises, so do school shootings), there would still be no proof that they were linked. People think that if one thing happens just as another thing does (e.g. as the number of swallows in an area falls, the number of predators eating them rises), then it means there is a link IT DOESN'T! Many times people, in particular politicians, will use statistics to claim something that isn't true. What the above graph shows is that there is less likely to be a link between youth violence and violence in video games. For the record, I believe that video games don't incite violence. However, I do believe that games like Manhunt are sick and should still be banned, not because of teir real world effects but because they are basically snuff films where you control the main guy (i.e. sick as fuck).
 

Jharry5

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Nov 1, 2008
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I hope that this study will be taken into account by a wider range of people besides gamers.
However, I get the feeling that the anti-game brigade will just shoot this down before it becomes too well known...
 

DamienHell

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Oct 17, 2007
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Jharry5 said:
I hope that this study will be taken into account by a wider range of people besides gamers.
However, I get the feeling that the anti-game brigade will just shoot this down before it becomes too well known...
No they'll just ignore it, remember you can't let a thing like fact get in the way of slander.
 

Sylocat

Sci-Fi & Shakespeare
Nov 13, 2007
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And in other news, the sky is blue and grass is green (except in modern video games, where the sky is gray and grass is brown), and the Moral Guardians still won't abandon their conviction that video games are responsible for everything wrong in the world.
 

Tharticus

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Dec 10, 2008
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Despite the research, some people still uses video games as scapegoat for their problems. But this research has been performed sometime ago but it's good to do it again to see solid proof.
 

Gxas

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Sep 4, 2008
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Sylocat said:
And in other news, the sky is blue and grass is green (except in modern video games, where the sky is gray and grass is brown), and the Moral Guardians still won't abandon their conviction that video games are responsible for everything wrong in the world.
No, sadly they won't. They are in a higher position than many others which boosts their idea that their lack of data proves their lies.

Tharticus said:
Despite the research, some people still uses video games as scapegoat for their problems. But this research has been performed sometime ago but it's good to do it again to see solid proof.
People will always find a scapegoat. Like that kid who shot his mom blamed Halo. It wasn't the game that caused him to do it, he did it on his own accord. He technically hadn't played the game because his parents took it away as soon as he bought it.

The_root_of_all_evil said:
I think I speak for most people here when I say "In your face, Fox News!"
I say everyone on this forum sends an email with the link to this article in it to Fox. Maybe then they will get the picture.
 

mattttherman3

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Dec 16, 2008
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I bet you won't see this story on FOX or any of the other networks. If I could meet this man, I would shake his hand.
 

elmaxx

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Oct 2, 2008
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Too bad I'm not in the vicinity of the good ol' professor to drop him off a case of beer, cheers mate.
 

Isaac Dodgson

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May 11, 2008
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I'd say duh... But the reason that this study was done was because it's apparently not obvious to some people
 

Radelaide

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May 15, 2008
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So all us gamers had to do was put "OMG LOOK IT'S AN OFFICAL STUDY" on the beginning of our "Games aren't the cause, bad education is!" rants?

Damn, should have thought of that a long time ago...