American Psychological Association Continues Bad Science Relating To Video Game Violence

Edit: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the open letter was in response to the APA’s latest publication. It has been updated to be more accurate.

Despite a coherent effort by academics to stand up to the bad science about video games being spread by the American Pyschological Association, they have released another study making all the same mistakes. Unfortunately, the APA has a history of taking a deeply skewed and unscientific approach when it comes to data on this subject, as we reported in 2011. In 2013, 230 academics and scientists signed an open letter stating their objection to the claims being made by the APA, calling them “misleading and alarmist”. It didn’t seem to make a difference.

This new publication by the American Psychological Association is awfully familiar. It is, they say, the culmination of a taskforce’s efforts to review hundreds of studies and papers on the subject published between 2005 and 2013. They state,

“The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in pro-social behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression.”

A statement that’s awfully familiar to anyone who remembers their 2005 policy statement entitled “Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media”, a wildly peculiar publication that wholly ignored studies that found no links between gaming and aggression or violence, but only focused on those claiming positive results. We explored its strange ways in 2011 when Dr Carole Lieberman made outrageous and wholly inaccurate statements to Fox News, and then attempted to use this study to defend her entirely false claims about Bulletstorm. At that time we said of their study,

“The entire article of studies absolutely ignores all the contrary studies – something that seems wildly ethically unsound. It’s certainly relevant to gather together studies on the subject, but such selective choosing implies something else is afoot.”

When we went through studies cited by the APA, we discovered many were completely irrelevant to the claims they were making, not from scientific studies (one was a parents guide to Christmas shopping!), and even – astonishingly – unpublished papers. It’s from this perspective that we approach any findings from the American Psychological Association at this point.

So, it seems, do an awful lot of psychologists, criminologists and media scholars, who banded together in their hundreds to tell the APA to just bloody stop it. Well, they put it slightly differently. They phrased it as,

“…the scientific evidence is inconsistent and that the APA should adopt a neutral stance rather than maintaining policy statements.”

Of course, like the 230 names behind this letter, we at RPS enormously welcome any and all studies that attempt to research links between gaming and violence. As we’ve repeatedly said over the years, if there’s a genuine link, we’re the first people who want and need to know. It’s a matter so serious that we must demand the best and most rigorous science, and we’re critical of bad science whatever the conclusions.

This open letter also points out that the 2005 study we found disturbingly flawed was scientifically improper. They say,

“We express the concern that the APA’s previous (2005) policy statement delineated several strong conclusions on the basis of inconsistent or weak evidence. Research subsequent to that 2005 statement has provided even stronger evidence that some of the assertions in it cannot be supported.”

They go on to describe the APA’s policy statements as “ideological”, and say that such publications can “serve to stifle scientific innovation and new theories and may inadvertently serve to increase publication bias, particularly given concerns about both disregard for null findings and researcher degrees of freedom.”

In fact, just as we concluded in 2011, the 2013 open letter observes that the APA is leaving out studies that do not find a link between gaming and violence, or those that fail to replicate the claims of previous studies. As such, they say, “we will not have a full view of the data in this field.” They go on to point out a number of flaws in the methodology used in the papers the APA did see fit to include, especially the ignoring of key variables that could explain results, and the unscientific assumption that laboratory measures of behaviour have perceivable effects on real-world behaviour. This latter concern has certainly been the undermining factor of even the most rigorous studies that we’ve read, which acknowledge the flaw themselves, but still do not propose any further study to explore the matter.

The unimprovable letter goes on to make the rather colossal point that youth violence is at a 40 year low in the United States, despite the mainstream success of gaming, and has only gone down further since the claims made in the APA’s 2005 statement. They of course don’t suggest that gaming is in any way responsible for the drop in violence, but make the observation that the low figures suggest the APA’s conclusions do not reflect a credible health concern. In other words, as gaming becomes increasingly ubiquitous, you’d expect to see some real-world manifestation of their outlandish claims. The open letter continued,

“Fundamentally, we are of the belief that the task force has a tremendous opportunity to change the culture of this research field to one which is less ideological and open to new theories, data and beliefs. So too, should scholars feel free to argue for existing theories. We believe that the field is beginning to undergo theoretical and data-driven changes that challenge previously held beliefs. Only with the freedom for data to sort itself out can this field progress… Policy statements based on inconsistent and weak evidence are bad policy and over the long run do more harm than good, hurting the credibility of the science of psychology. We are certainly happy to help the Task Force however we can in support of their important work.”

The letter is so superbly worded, a Trojan horse of politeness, containing some damning statements. We tend toward the more direct route of just saying that the APA are scaremongering and spreading misinformation, which not only does no good for the public’s understanding of the subject, but also makes the whole scientific community look bad. And worse, such obvious bias makes people far more prone to dismiss the subject, rather than keep an open mind about such an important topic.

So it is an enormous shame to see the APA continuing on, ignoring these pleas, once again publishing findings that ignore studies that dispute the agenda, and conclude that violent video games are a “risk factor” that, when combined with other such ambiguously identified factors, “lead to aggressive or violent behaviour.”

141 Comments

  1. melnificent says:

    From the APA letter

    So during the rise of video games, violence has actually decreased.

    • melnificent says:

      That went horrible wrong here’s the quote “During the video game epoch, youth violence in the United States and elsewhere has plummeted to 40-year lows, not risen as would have been expected if the 2005 APA resolution were accurate.”

    • Eightball says:

      Correlation is a sticky thing, though. In this same period we’ve also locked up record numbers of criminals, a large minority of them on drug charges. And yet some people want to reverse this.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        Research shows mass incarceration had had a minimal effect on reducing violent crime, and almost no impact at all since 1990.

        link to brennancenter.org

        • Eightball says:

          “Research shows”

          >one study

          • Spider Jerusalem says:

            Yes. Surely. There’s only one study. Yes. Absolutely. It’s that. And not that I don’t care to do people’s research for them. The information is freely available for those who care to look.

          • TheOx129 says:

            If you want, here’s a study from the Urban Institute from back in 1997 that came to the conclusion that, “Although the massive increases in incarceration of violent offenders are associated with minor reductions in violent crimes, there is no evidence that more widespread imprisonment of drug offenders has reduced drug crimes. Moreover, incarcerating less serious offenders who have not only minor or no criminal histories, but also have ties to families, schools, churches, and labor markets, may adversely affect communities.”

            There’s a broad consensus now amongst criminal justice experts that “tough on crime” policies ultimately had negligible effects on the “crime bubble” popping. Important factors that created the bubble in the first place include: the post-war baby boom (young men aged 15-24 commit violent crime at a disproportionate rate), urban decay, the decline of American manufacturing, institutional racism, the crack epidemic, etc.

            Indeed, I think it says quite a bit that conservative states that were some of the first to adopt enhanced sentencing are now reversing the trend as they find the policies did not have the desired results from the perspective of deterrence, and led to ballooning costs as a larger number of people were incarcerated. Are minor reductions in violent crime worth exponentially higher costs for the prison system and intangible damages to communities? I and many others would say no.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        A lot of people want to reverse this because putting someone in jail with a life sentence for a completely non-violent crime is ludicrous.

        It gets even worse when you realize that these long prison sentences don’t actually do anything to deter the crime in the first place.

        • median says:

          You know, sometimes I think it’s really cool that so many users here are from the UK — across from the US where I live.

          Other times, it’s just deeply embarrassing. Maybe I should do what I do when I travel: say I’m from Canada.

          • DeepFried says:

            Everyone likes Canadians.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Everyone except other Canadians from neighboring provinces.

            And you have to admit you’re American, median. If everyone with a brain and basic decency claims to be Canadian, all that’s left are the assholes.

  2. jasta85 says:

    Video games are so main stream these days that most people aren’t going to pay attention to this. The only people who will listen are those who are already convinced that video games are bad, I don’t know of any gamers that suddenly threw out their consoles just because some shady study said they were bad for them.

    And as for the old generation of politicians who might try and draw some kind of legislation against video games, they will eventually die off and be replaced by politicians who grew up playing games, not much to worry about

    • Sam says:

      Don’t underestimate the power of an apparently scientific study into Things Harming Your Children.

      The whole anti-vaccination thing was derived from a single study by a liar. This report is from the APA, which is “the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States”. What they say should have real weight, so it’s vital that they speak from real evidence.

      • Geebs says:

        Not true, anti-vaxxers have been around as a movement ever since the introduction of compulsory vaccination. The liar in question just happened to be in line with their preconceptions.

        • Cinek says:

          They sort-of always been there, but at the same time – had no effect on anything or anyone. The new anti-vac movement that popped just recently on the other hand has a notable effect on statistics.

        • gunny1993 says:

          For anyone interested: Anti-Vaxers largley came into being as a movement during the 18th century when the smallpox vaccine was invented.

          A great book on the subject is “Deadly Choices” by Paul Offit

  3. Tazer says:

    What’s crazy is you have other “game” sites reporting this study as fact, and none of the commenters question it. They just go “Oh well, it’s science and it’s been reported, so it must be true.” There seems to be a push in certain circles to eliminate violence in video games and only have walking simulators published by blue haired indie developers to be considered hip and worthy or praise. Disturbing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Henke says:

      Oh no, are the game sites and blue haired indie devs coming to take our violent games away? What are we gonna doooo? :(

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        It’s already gone in books, films, music and comics so games are next.

        • chope says:

          I don’t think that’s true.

          • SpiceTheCat says:

            I agree with your disagreement with Press X’s sarcastic disagreement with Henke’s sarcastic agreement with Tazer. At least I hope Press X was sarcastic. It’s pretty clear Henke was taking the piss. Blimey, straight-faced comments on the internet get complicated quickly.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            It’s true, everything is spanking vampires, tap dancing musicals, contemporary drama, elevator music and Garfield comics [currently under scrutiny].

      • Jenks says:

        Continue to make fun of them.

    • GWOP says:

      @Tazer: Aren’t you going to next complain about the lack of objectivity in this article since John Walker runs a gaming website and is thus obviously biased?

      Or do you do that only when it suits you?

  4. rebb says:

    link to imgur.com *drops mic*

    • Lovely Alexander says:

      I would love this to be the reason, but the apparent reason is actually a lot more interesting.
      I’ve seen similar data in the excellent ‘Freakanomics’ which attributes the massive drop in US crime in the 90s to the legalisation of abortion in Texas in the early 70s. There are other factors too, but this is likely a major cause and it goes a little something like this.
      Poor people have access to proper, safe abortion so they have fewer babies. So there are fewer children growing up in poverty, which is a major cause of crime. But there are relatively fewer poor people, because not so many are being born. So when those babies who weren’t born in the 70s don’t reach prime crime committing age in the 90s, the crime rate drops.

      Or it was Doom.

      • Atangaladhion says:

        The abortion argument for the decrease in crime through the latter part of the 20th Century has been well and truly discredited now. It was a nice idea, but the data really didn’t support it (and in fact countered it).

      • timzania says:

        Elimination of lead in gasoline is looking like a much more plausible theory these days.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Since you brought it up, there was a wonderful moment when Cameron cut a meeting with the Freakonomics duo short after they started discussing the NHS: link to latimes.com

        • pepperfez says:

          I love that so much. The Freakonomics guys claim to be nonpartisan technocrats and David Fucking Cameron thinks they’re right-wing loons. Just fabulous.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Coming from Europe, “technocrat” nearly always means “used to work at Goldman Sachs, is charged with tearing a nation apart and feeding it to the rich”.

          • pepperfez says:

            Oh, it means the same in the US, but that puts them on the center-left.

      • gwathdring says:

        Freakonomics is lot of hot air that makes money by being Edgy and Controversial. While some of it’s ideas are interesting and even appear to have some merit beyond convoluted spin-doctoring of correlative statistics, as a whole the work holds about as much water as an ant.

  5. slight says:

    What we should really be worrying about is the terrible moral and health effects of reading novels.

    link to noseinabook.co.uk

  6. emotionengine says:

    It says right beneath the title of the open letter you linked to, “(Delivered to the APA Task Force, 9/26/13)”. I don’t understand, was this letter delivered almost two years ago, or was it just recently?

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      And the upload date for the scribd link to the letter,
      Published by: StoneProphet on May 10, 2014

    • AbyssUK says:

      I too would like an explaination from RPS about the dates, so why are we only hearing about this now ?? Did a press release only just get sent out or something ??
      I know the BBC posted about it today too.. can you let us know what is going on.. if indeed the letter is so old did the ASA replay about it ? did anything happen ??

      • AbyssUK says:

        I am even more confused.. the ASA released a press release about the final review findings Aug 13th 2015..
        link to apa.org

        Is it happening again.. last time time travel gave me a nasty chinese burn..

        • horsemedic says:

          The APA published a video game study in 2005.

          In 2013, the APA created a task force to review the 2005 study, and to review scientific studies on video game violence that had been published since then.

          A few months later, in 2013, scholars sent an open letter to the task force, directing its attention to what they saw as problems in the 2005 study.

          In 2015, the task force released a new study that apparently reads much like the 2005 one.

          RPS mistook the 2013 open letter as a response to the 2015 study.

          • AbyssUK says:

            It does appear Mr Walker this time has uncharacteristically dropped the ball a little…

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      It was my mistake, repeating the mistake made by the BBC. I rather naively assumed they were accurately reporting the story, and did not notice the dates. I’ve corrected the article, and made a note of my mistake at the top.

      If anything, it makes the story MORE interesting. Despite having two years warning, the APA still went ahead and made the same mistakes again.

      • horsemedic says:

        But how do you know they made the same mistakes again? They reached similar conclusions, perhaps, but I don’t see anything in your report indicating they ignored studies, or any discussion of the their methodology at all.

        Maybe you could call up some of the scholars from 2013 letter and ask if they felt like the APA address their concerns. Or, you know, call the APA task force and ask if they took the letter into consideration.

        What you’re doing here—assuming that a study must be flawed because you don’t like the results and something something troubling 10 years ago—reminds me of how global warming deniers try to distort the scientific consensus on that topic. It’s very bad journalism.

      • AbyssUK says:

        I agree John this does make the story more interesting.. the APA appears to have changed the review only slightly, practically ignoring the 230 leading researchers.. are RPS planning to look deeper down this particular rabbit hole ??

        • horsemedic says:

          They changed it completely. The 2005 “review” was actually just a page-long policy statement with variations on “video games are unhealthy,” which cited arbitrary research papers and articles that supported its points. There was no methodology whatsoever.

          The 2015 paper is an actual study. They started with a broad survey of peer-reviewed papers, whittled those down to a few dozen papers that met their quality criteria, and analyzed those papers to arrive at a conclusion.

          I’m not a scientist, so I can’t say whether their method was sound, or swear that bias didn’t creep in anyway. But on first glance, it looks like the API addressed many of the criticisms raised in the open letter. It’s disappointing that a writer who says he wants to be the first to know about any link between games and violence dismisses significant evidence of one based on a misreading of a BBC article.

  7. enolan says:

    The open letter says it was “Delivered to the APA Task Force, 9/26/13”. What’s going on here? They can’t be responding to the task force’s findings from August of this year.

    Google search finds this Gameinformer article from the 14th. Is that your source?

    • horsemedic says:

      John failed to do basic fact checking, again.

      • trn says:

        I got the impression from the Gameinformer article that the reason this has surfaced again now is that the APA has just published (as in the 13th August, 2015) ANOTHER report linking gaming and violence and Gameinformer were asked to re-publicise the 2013 letter.

        BTW, as ‘reply’ never seems to work for my comments, this is a reply to the discussion between enolan and horse medic – and the discussion above about why RPS have suddenly reported a letter from 2013 that has been circulating on the internet since 2014.

        • horsemedic says:

          That’s probably why the letter is making the rounds again. But the other articles I’ve seen about it make clear it’s an old letter responding to the 10-year-old APA study. John seems to think it’s a new, or at least that’s the strong impression his writeup leaves.

        • AbyssUK says:

          It is also important to state that the APA in the new review/report conclude there is a link to aggression but not enough data to link to criminal violence. Two very different things..

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      See above. Apologies for my mistake. I’ve corrected the article.

  8. claud alexander says:

    You know what might help reduce violence in a few choice locations around the planet, if the APA governing board stopped assisting in US torture programs, making money off it, suppressing whistleblowers, then lying about it.

    Sorry for length of above, but rather rich that all this pious concern about violence and video games was coming from an organization that was at the same time helping government-employed Trevors (or whoever that GTA V character was) refine their craft.

  9. median says:

    The American Psychological Association was intimately involved with torture during the Bush administration and only eight days ago finally came around to an outright ban on any member for participating.

    Eight days ago. Reminder: It’s 2015.

    • SpiceTheCat says:

      Quite. Although as it’s taken the APA more than a decade to agree that yes, collusion in torture is wrong, I don’t suppose that they’ll be any faster to correct bad practice in any other area.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      They must have played too much GTAV.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I try not to go for conspiracies, but the timing of this publication does seem more than a little suspicious to me. It’s cobbled together, and it makes basically no new claims, other than “we finally found a real correlation this time!”

      Can something be a bad joke and a smokescreen for evil behavior, at the same time?

  10. Fluffy says:

    When we went through studies cited by the APA, we discovered many were completely irrelevant to the claims they were making, not from scientific studies (one was a parents guide to Christmas shopping!), and even – astonishingly – unpublished papers
    While guides to shopping are probably not appropriate, including unpublished papers may be – if properly vetted. The problem is alluded to later in the piece, namely publication bias. Scientific journals have a habit of only accepting papers for publication that have significant results (Proving that games will make you go on a murderous rampage is a lot more sexy than finding no relation), or – in some cases, and much much worse – that agree with whatever the editors feel is the ‘truth’. Many scientifically completely accurate papers are drawered because their findings weren’t interesting enough for publication. This means that when we look back, we only find the interesting papers, and a review might be biased one way or the other.

    That being said, this does appear a pretty horrid publication.

    • Geebs says:

      Given that estimates of the accuracy of published research go as low as 50%, unpublished data might well be better than the stuff that’s been massaged to get into a journal…

      • gwathdring says:

        Yeah, I was a little put off by the “Oh lord, not UNPUBLISHED PAPERS” comment too.

        Papers can be assessed for quality and relevance by an adequately trained peer (or in extreme cases of really good or really bad papers even by laypeople)whether or not that peer is part of a review process that directly leads to publication … and in face taking the complex politics of publication out of it probably helps papers to be seen in a clearer light.

        Unpublished papers have just as much relevance to a survey/review style paper as published papers–if not more. A qualified scientist pouring through overlooked data and perfectly robust “there’s actually nothing to see here, guys” findings can get a rather important picture of the state of the field that someone who just reads the stuff that makes it into print somewhere can’t.

        One paper I wrote simply said a cheaper technique that was supposed to be possible to produce a substance that normally requires exotic processes didn’t work for us. I described our setup, reviewed the setup of the group that pulled it off and came to the conclusion that their success in synthesizing the product probably had some unusual circumstance they didn’t recognize to it since we weren’t the only group to fail to replicate their production. If that sort of thing were publishable, you wouldn’t have 50 teams cluelessly failing to produce a product like this one published paper said they could and giving up on making the material cheaper to get ahold of… you’d instead have that original team going “Damn, there’s something special about our rig! Let’s figure out what it is so everyone can use this cheaper technique!”

  11. TheAngriestHobo says:

    And this is why you’re my favourite website for people with decreased pro-social behaviour.

  12. king0zymandias says:

    Everyone plays video games, additionally this silly outrage it’s not exclusively a video games thing, so there’s no reason for us to all up in arms do defend our hobby. It’s unnecessary. Remember even Scorsese, Tarantino, Kubrick have had to regularly defend their films from this same bullshit. It’s the same people who used to cry about how Bart Simpson is a bad role model for kids. No one with half a brain takes this seriously.

    What is important however is encouraging conversation and criticism about how regressive the whole of mainstreaming gaming has become. As a medium video games have so much potential, which is why it’s sad to see pretty much every game resorting to direct physical violence as the only method of conflict resolution. Mechanically it has been proven time and time again how diverse games can be, and how this interactive media can be used to create mechanics that lend itself to many different aspects of human life and emotion, not just resorting to shooting and stabbing people.

    The conversation should not be about weather these games are turning people into psychopaths and sociopaths, because that’s an absurd assertion, it should rather be about why mainstream games are so painfully tasteless, mechanically uninteresting and philosophically regressive.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      But we already know the answer to that. We knew the answer to that before it ever happened.

      It’s because of the marketing-driven design. Marketing doesn’t care about taste, marketing cares about attention, and the best ways to get attention undermine taste. Marketing doesn’t care about mechanically interesting, marketing cares about already-proven-to-sell mechanics, so focusing on what’s been proven to work undermines innovation. Finally, marketing really, really does not care about what “philosophically regressive” could even mean, they care about selling product.

      Everyone knew this was going to happen when marketing departments started telling designers what to do in the early 90s. In the 80s, game design was so new that marketers didn’t even know what to tell game designers (according to that one Atari documentary I saw). But by the early 90s they has started to figure out how the overall process worked and that they wanted to be in charge of decision-making (according to Ultima VII and anecdotes from every time EA eats a company). The result is a lot more products that are functional, but nothing is unique and many are extremely derivative.

      • king0zymandias says:

        Absolutely. I am not saying that there is some great mystery behind it, we all know that the industry is profit driven. What I am rather saying is that this is still the conversation to have, instead of talking about weather or not games make people violent. Why are we, as a society so eager to accept the glorification of violence? Why is it such an easy sell? Why is it so much more pervasive in gaming than in other mediums?

    • metric day says:

      I don’t remember Kubrick defending his films on this score. If anything, he pulled Clockwork Orange and prohibited screenings for years over stuff like this!

      • king0zymandias says:

        Here’s an excerpt to an interview with Kubrick. And the full interview is here- link to visual-memory.co.uk

        “Q: Is there any kind of violence in films which you might regard as socially dangerous?

        A: Well, I don’t accept that there is a connection, but let us hypothetically say that there might be one. If there were one, I should say that the kind of violence that might cause some impulse to emulate it is the ‘fun’ kind of violence: the kind of violence we see in the Bond films, or in Tom and Jerry cartoons. Unrealistic violence, sanitized violence, violence presented as a joke. This is the only kind of violence that could conceivably cause anyone to wish to copy it, but I am quite convinced that not even this has any effect.

        There may even be an argument in support of saying that any kind of violence in films, in fact, serves a useful social purpose by allowing people a means of vicariously freeing themselves from the pent up, aggressive, aggressive emotions which are better expressed in dreams, or in the dreamlike state of watching a film, than in any form of reality or sublimation.”

  13. Eightball says:

    So if videogames don’t cause violence through osmosis, how could they cause sexism via the same process?

    • Sam says:

      I think it’s fair to say that there’s a lack of conclusive evidence for causation or not-causation in both cases. (Lack of evidence for causation isn’t the same as evidence of there being no causation.)

    • GWOP says:

      It’s a lot easier to perpetuate sexism than violence.

      • Eightball says:

        In videogames? What is the mechanism for that?

      • Dave Tosser says:

        Give us a source on that, won’t you? Only fair given the article itself tackles a study.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Sigh. Videogames do not cause sexism; some videogames are sexist. Meanwhile not one videogame in history has been violent, unless you’ve experienced a particularly nasty malfunction in an Afterburner booth.

      • Distec says:

        Can you elaborate on that distinction? Games can be either or both in terms of their content, which is what I believe most people intend when they make statements about a game(s) being X. I don’t understand how games in any other sense can qualify as sexist but never violent unless the cartridges have a history of lifting up skirts.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          I’m being a bit obtuse, I admit, but I do feel that the sexism that appears in some games is often not merely simulated (for want of a better word) but genuine, whereas the violence in games is always simulated.

          • Distec says:

            Without pressing further, I’ll just say I do understand the distinction you’re making and there is merit to it. Thanks.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Good lord, at least get the argument right before you critique it.

      Said argument is not that games “cause sexism” – that is a straw argument literally nobody who knows what they’re talking about has ever endorsed or proposed. The real argument is that works of art/entertainment can perpetuate and/or reinforce and/or normalize harmful stereotypes and ideas about marginalized people which are already prevalent within the wider culture due to systemic bias within mainstream society against historically marginalized groups. The point is not establishing a direct or consistent causal link, but to propose that there can be a cumulative effect if someone is exposed to stereotypes which go unchallenged within one’s orb.

      Simple example: if I, a white man, have only ever lived in a largely Caucasian environment which is geographically and culturally isolated from urban blacks, and I watch a lot of cop shows set in cities, and everyone arrested for stealing stuff on those cop shows is black, and everyone who is stolen from is white, I will be more likely to accept a racist relative’s proposal that it is in the nature of urban blacks to steal from white people. Other factors in my life – growing up with a black parent who spent much of their early life in the ghetto, say – might act as a counterpoint to that stereotype, but in the absence of those other factors, I will be more willing to take that false data at face value. If we were to reverse the colors of the fictional thieves and their victims, however, I would in all likelihood believe that those specific fictional white people stole from those specific fictional urban blacks, because I as a white man would not be predisposed to regard the white thieves as an unknowable other.

      Now, you can disagree with that argument, but at least accept that it’s A) more complex than “videogames cause [insert harmful ideology here]-ism,” and B) that the argument in no way proposes or presupposes a definitive causal link between videogames and [insert harmful ideology here]-ism. It merely suggests that media might reinforce the [insert harmful ideology here]-ism already implicit in society. Which shouldn’t be all that controversial, given that propaganda and advertising operate on similar principles and have been shown time and again to work quite well in influencing popular attitudes. But I suppose the delusion of personal incorruptibility is more attractive than accepting one’s own potential gullibility.

    • icecreamjones says:

      Lol, gater who doesn’t understand how things work alert

    • gwathdring says:

      Since when was the issue video games making people sexist? I thought the issues was video games BEING sexist and that being an unpleasant and undesirable thing.

      Just like it is when films, books, or what-ever else is sexist.

      What makes people sexist is … well, living in a sexist society or sexist sub-section of society. Media making me personally into a sexist person isn’t the big problem. Because, well, people contain multitudes. I’m not first and foremost any one of my identities or content descriptors and neither are the bits and pieces of people, media and socialization structures that made me the person to whom those descriptors apply.

      People are complex and asking media representation to either be irrelevant to the real world or a provably guiding factor in it’s establishment is somewhat silly. Media warps people’s perspectives, sure. But so does having a conversation with people in line at the local Arbys or having a chat in the RPS forums. People are complex and are affected by interacting with stuff.

      Sexist, then, isn’t a state of being. Or at least, it’s pretty friggin’ useless when it’s treated as a state of being. It’s a content descriptor. It’s me making a judgement about your content or a game’s content based on the way that content makes other people feel or the social systems that content resonates with.

      Generally … we want people to feel good, right? We want people to be happy, right? We want people’s rights to be respected and their livelihoods to be protected and that taken care of ideally they’d also be happy on top of that, right?

      Well, certain features in our media make people who already put up with a lot of much more clear an concrete shit from society on a regular basis feel even shittier. We’ve developed content descriptors to describe that. Sometimes those descriptors apply for reasons that aren’t necessarily meanbadwrong. Maybe a character is sexist because … that character is sexist and the fiction has no intent of slapping that character on the back and telling them it’s fine and awesome that they’re sexist. Maybe the fiction has some broader, empathetic message and that character’s sexism is addressed from within the framework of that message. Maybe the sexism isn’t integral to the experience or particularly potent and it can be easily ignored.

      We can’t go around saying that You Are What You Consume. Because that’s obviously not true. But likewise we can’t go around saying What You Consume Doesn’t Matter. We can’t look at all of the beautiful, wonderful, positive ways in which games and other art affect people’s lives profoundly and turn around and say “but negative stuff doesn’t work like that” or worse “nah, games don’t matter ever for any reason not even good ones.” Because regardless of what media does to shape the behaviors of it’s consumers, media has a damn big effect on how it’s consumer feel. And I guess I think you have to be a shitty human being if you don’t care how your media makes people feel. Something making you feel bad isn’t automatically a trump card, of course, but … well, if that thing not being there doesn’t hurt anyone else and it helps you … why *not* ask for it to be changed? Why does caring about video games and being made to feel shitty by some games on account of your gender identity suddenly make you a hateful, spiteful person where critiquing a game for the way it’s graphics, mechanics, storytelling or what-have-you made you feel with respect to other touchstones of personal experience (for example, being a fan of earlier games in the IP) just makes you part of the critical discussion of games?

      Well, you probably *know* why. And it’s the same reason this stuff makes some gamers feel uncomfortable and excluded. Is it “fair” to blame gaming for being the source of broader social issues? Is it “fair” to act like gaming is dramatically worse that this or that medium on the basis of personal anecdotes that are not supported by wider review of the respective mediums? No. But does some people being unfair in the breadth of their frustration suddenly make the very concept of being frustrated with sexism in games invalid? FUCK NO.

      • gwathdring says:

        As an example that has nothing to do with identity politics, consider Arachnophobia.

        It’s very common, and there’s some evidence it’s innate to a point. Many people who wouldn’t consider themselves phobic still get freaked the hell out by spiders. But fantasy games can’t help but use them over and over and over in games where having the pants scared off of you isn’t something most of the palyer base is intentionally singing up for.

        Now, I’m not saying every product needs to come with warnings for every conceivable trigger. But there’s “every conceivable trigger” and there’s “being freaked the fuck out by giant fucking spiders.” It’s an unnecessary detail that’s not usually very interesting that often appears in games where it doesn’t add to the experience or doesn’t even make sense in terms of the setting or the ecology (either fantastical or realistic) of the game. It’s like those damn Sewer levels which, as it happens, all too often have giant bugs in them.

        I think it would be cool if games stopped putting giant-ass spiders in them just because the creators ran out of interesting things to do. It’s not that you can’t put scary things in your games or even giant insects and it’s not that you have to avoid making anyone at all uncomfortable. But at least Fallout had Radscorpians and Giant Ants. At least it didn’t half-heartedly engage one of the most common fears on the planet for no real discernible reason. Heck, even games that WANT to be horrifying tend to have much better techniques for it than giant-ass spiders.

        So when I say “Games shouldn’t have giant-ass spiders unless they have a really good reason for it” I want you to understand that it comes from a couple of places. 1) Ubiquity of dissent from the content. 2) Ubiquity of the content where it does not enhance the product. 3) Ubiquity and superiority of alternative content.

        I’m not trying to claim giant-ass spiders in games make people afraid of spiders. I’m saying a lot of people have pre-existing beefs with spiders. Enough of them potent enough that designers should really, really, really try to avoid using giant-ass spiders. But if you want to make a game and you have an artistic reason for using giant-ass spiders? I’m not going to stop you. I don’t have a gun to your head. I’m just a gamer and a critic.

      • ffordesoon says:

        May I say that I always find your comments illuminating and well-argued, even when I disagree with them? Because I would like to say that, and have been meaning to for a while.

      • gwathdring says:

        Ultimately, violence is a physical thing done to people. Speech is meaning conveyed. Games can depict violence, but they can’t perform violence. Games, however, are speech. Any condemnations we would apply to an individuals speech, and censure or complaint or distress or critique that applies to a person speaking applies to media. It applies in sometimes complex ways; who exactly is responsible for what part of a collaborative venture can get fuzzy if we’re interested in blame. But I’m not interested in blame so much as in the audience. The audience receives media as speech. The audience does not receive media as violence.

        I’m going to hold games accountable for their speech just as I’ll hold friends, colleagues, politicians, authors, strangers–any other speech-generator–accountable for their speech.

        I also think that positive representation and positive voice is a lot more important than negative voice. When you read other people’s perspectives, spend time with other people, you develop empathy and understanding and a more nuanced view of the world. This is something that speech does, whether it comes through media or not. Sure we can argue on and on about where to draw the line on the negative side of that … but we can also look at who we’re allowing to speak. Who we’re giving space to for construction diverse perspectives rather than simply recolored player models and different hair meshes. Where are our positive messages at? How healthy and diverse are they?

        When you look at speaking roles in top-grossing American films (quality and length of the speaking aside from now) you see something interesting: Black Americans are represented at roughly demographic equivalent levels and have been for some time. This doesn’t mean the portrayals are good, but compared against some media commentary it does make it appear that our Black/White dichotomous view of American racism has skewed our understanding of what fair representation for Black actors looks like. Again, this gets WAY more complicated when we bring quality of representation into play, bu I have something else I want to talk about instead so bear with me.

        When we, instead, look at directors … we see something much more dramatic. About 3% of directors in the top 100 films every year are Black. That’s substantially below demographic levels. You could make arguments about who has the money to go to theaters and bend over backwards to try and explain it … but demographic representation happens for Black speaking characters who show up on screen to be seen and heard by audience goes and not for Black directors who’s vision is seen by audience goers … but who are primarily seen and heard by the Hollywood backend on their way toward directing. Whatever the reasons, whatever conclusions you draw from that … two things remain: a perception that our media does not represent Black people in accordance with their relevance to our society and an absence of Black voices directing films.

        When you look at women in these same films, you see a demographic disparity in both speaking roles and directing roles–though again the directing disparity is much, much greater. You certainly can’t argue that women don’t spend money watching films, that women aren’t a marketable audience, or that film goers aren’t interested in female perspectives. So we’re left, again, with widespread perceptions that women are poorly represented in film … and data not only to back that up, but specifically data showing that women are particularly poorly represented as directors despite willing audiences and money-making female-centric enterprises based on female-created works of fiction that have dones absolutely fine in the world of publication. Hollywood can’t seem to stop turning profitable female authors into movie franchises, but it also can’t seem to stop giving those films to male directors.

      • gwathdring says:

        It’s hard to point out the absence of a thing when looking at individual works. So in individual works, I’ll critique negative things more that mention missing positives I would have liked to see. But holistically, I’m a lot more interested in what ISN’T there than what IS. I’m a lot more upset that there aren’t more non-combat games with big names and big budgets than I am that Assasin’s Creed exists. I’m a lot more interested in looking at the status of female game creators than I am at sneeringly attacking male creators. I’m a lot more interested in seeking diversity than in panning male leads.

        I want more women directors. More Black directors. Games have lots of games where you can pick the gender of your character or where gender is entirely absent in play but I’d like to see more single-player games with linear narratives where you play as a woman. I’d like to see more women telling stories with the power of a AAA budget behind them. I’d like to see games do more awesome stuff.

        Sometimes, I express that through criticism, frustration, and anger. But it comes from a place of loving this medium and loving what games can be, not from a place of having some arbitrarily specific platform of demands I want games to fulfill. I want them to keep growing and keep celebrating the wonderful positive things games are capable of doing. To keep affecting me and keep affecting more people who aren’t like me.

        I’m not terrified that games will make the children sexist. I’m tired of games walking into dead ends when there’s so much more for them to do and only so much more of my life in which to watch them do it. And, yeah, I also care how games make people feel.

  14. quidnunc says:

    The APA review is likely guilty of inflating the decisiveness of the research and magnitude of the effect* but I think it’s important not to inflate criticisms into advocacy without considering that the letter is calling for more studies, using improved methods and tests of alternative theoretical positions that better account for the complexity in social science, not dismissing research in this area out of hand.

    *see the main author of the critical letter’s papers here:

    link to christopherjferguson.com

    including this:
    She said/he said: A peaceful debate on video game violence
    link to christopherjferguson.com

  15. vence333 says:

    Not long ago they were blaming gangster rap for violence, when that didn’t stick they turned their attention to guns, when that was destroyed they then said violence is caused by movies, and so forth and so on, they just cant recognize that violence is in human nature, they need something to blame.

    • Geebs says:

      Guns are involved in more than 90% of shootings, p < 0.001

      • vence333 says:

        Guns can be used to kill/steal in the hand of a gangster or to save lives in the hand of a cop, so obviously guns are not responsible for violence.

      • vence333 says:

        You can kill someone with a pen or with a fork, should we ban pens and forks ?

        • jasonisme84 says:

          Absolutely we should. You’ve given a completely flawless arguement.

          • SpiceTheCat says:

            Yes, I’m won over too. Also the bit about a gun in the hand of a cop saving lives was utterly convincing.

        • Volcanu says:

          Dont be facetious. It shouldnt need spelling out that guns certainly make killing large numbers of people easy for those who are that way inclined. Or did I miss those headlines about all those pen massacres in US schools?

        • GWOP says:

          Pens and forks have utility; their sole purpose isn’t to kill people. They aren’t nearly as efficient either; when a Chinese man stabbed 23 school children in 2012, all of the victims survived. Now compare that to Sandy Hooks shooting in the same year.

          • Eightball says:

            If gun’s sole purpose is killing people, are they being misused when (for the vast majority of guns) they do not kill people?

          • Distec says:

            Don’t be obtuse. On one side you have items designed for the purpose of sticking food in your mouth or writing in your journal. The other is for the express for launching high-speed chunks of metal into another living thing’s flesh.

            It’s too early in the week to have a full-on argument about guns, but this is a qualitative difference that needs to be acknowledged before leaving square one if the discussion is going to be worth anybody’s time.

          • Distec says:

            This response was actually meant to an earlier post from the same author, but since I’m already writing a clarification…

            I’m not sure where this question is supposed to lead, but if bullets are just hitting people and not killing them, then the gun is still being used as intended. But since the former result is tied pretty tightly to the latter, I hope you can understand why a firearm might inspire more fear than a spoon.

          • Eightball says:

            lol Distec. Most firearms in the US are used for putting holes in targets or reducing deer populations. Are those guns being misused?

          • Distec says:

            Shooting deer lines up entirely with my “putting metal into flesh” bit a post ago. And putting holes into targets is, at best, an activity secondary to a firearm’s main purpose. You could accomplish same with a BB gun.

            So we agree that the primary purpose of firearms is to kill or injure things, yes?

            Sure, I’ll bite: Using a firearm for anything other than self-defense could probably be considered misuse. That we have an entrenched culture that just swears they’re innocently using long-range lethal weaponry for for the fun of it is probably a small but significant part of why we’re a country that can’t think straight about them.

          • Eightball says:

            >Using a firearm for anything other than self-defense could probably be considered misuse.

            lol hilarious. No more hunting, no more Olympic shooting, no more going to the range to have some fun. Because those things *don’t* end in people bleeding, and are therefore incorrect.

          • ffordesoon says:

            @Eightball:

            “Guns kill animals more often than people” does not seem to me a very effective rebuttal to the presumption that guns are designed solely to kill. Because, you know, the killing part is kinda still in the equation.

            Guns are weapons. Like most weapons, they are designed for the purpose of causing harm, especially lethal harm. To pretend that fact is remotely controversial or even arguable is rather disingenuous, don’t you think? You can use guns for understandable and even theoretically humane reasons – protecting your family from a threat, hunting for food, putting down an animal in pain. But these all involve causing a directed explosion which propels a small piece of metal shaped specifically to penetrate flesh toward a living being. Even scaring an intruder away with a gun you never fire could not be successfully done without the threat of pain and death inherent in pointing the gun at the intruder. Guns kill, quickly and efficiently. That is why they were invented, and that is why they continue to be used, whether acknowledging that fact makes you uncomfortable or not. And if it does, as your dissembling above suggests, then you probably shouldn’t be using a gun in the first place.

          • Eightball says:

            So yes or no, if I go to a shooting range and shoot a circular target for an hour, am I misusing the firearm?

          • ffordesoon says:

            @Eightball:

            “Misusing” is a stupid way of putting it, and if Distec is willing to grant you that willfully obtuse usage, I’m not. Plenty of lethal weapons are used in ways that don’t cause harm to other living beings. They’re still lethal weapons, designed as such. The idea that anyone with a modicum of sense could conclude otherwise is frankly ludicrous.

    • metric day says:

      Who the heck is “they?” Sounds like an awfully paranoid worldview.

    • iucounu says:

      Wait, guns have been destroyed? Excellent! When did that happen? So happy for you guys.

  16. Lionmaruu says:

    you guys are soooo biased, let them work!

    I, for example, been playing videogames since 1986 or so and have killed hundreds of people over the years, and it is obviously because of videogames… or it will be my excuse when I am finally caught…since I do hate GTA I guess I’ll blame GTA

  17. James says:

    Fun Fact: If you were to submit the APA study to the Extended Project Qualification (equivalent to 1 AS-level in the UK), then 7 apparently top scientists would get a B due to the lack of depth and detailed consideration of other factors. A qualification designed for 17 year old. And a B for 7 senior scientists.

  18. bad guy says:

    Thx for reminding me to buy Qvadriga :)

  19. Distec says:

    Awesome.

    I home we get a rebuttal of similar zeal to all the trash science and its useful idiots who perpetuate the myth that gaming is turning players into sexist, neckbearded troglodytes. I mean, uh, “reinforces damaging and sexist cultural attitudes” something something.

    • GWOP says:

      Gaming might not turn people sexist, but sexist folks suuureee do get mad when a game is viewed through some kind kind of feminist criticism.

    • iainl says:

      Cause and effect wrong there, surely? They were troglodytes to start with; the problem is that making sexist games attracts them our way.

    • Distec says:

      Eh, I’m not convinced by the premises of either of these responding arguments. I think people get upset over stupid criticism, not necessarily of the feminist stripe. Especially when said criticism carries the implication – at its core – that there is something personally wrong with large swathes of people for enjoying or participating in an entertainment product. People used to get defensive when the medium was accused of enabling/perpetuating violent behavior, but you didn’t see as much of the chin-stroking “Gosh, isn’t it telling that people are so rustled by this, hmm?” thinking that’s gotten traction lately. Also find the idea that gaming attracts sexists to be a bit reaching for various reasons, but meh.

      • Yglorba says:

        I think that most of the recent analysis of sexist tropes in gaming has been pretty smart and incisive overall, really (if a bit, well, basic.) I mean, I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s rare for me to agree with 100% of anything; the overall way eg. Feminist Frequency highlights sexist tropes in gaming is generally spot-on. The issue there, I think, is that nobody denies that many popular games are violent; but that there are a lot of people who are weirdly determined to deny that many popular games are sexist.

        And I think a lot of this comes down to part of what you said; you indicated you believe that what they’re really saying is “that there is something personally wrong with large swathes of people for enjoying or participating in an entertainment product.” Now, that’s basically a lie on your part — nobody is saying that. You’re free to enjoy sexist games, just like you’re free to enjoy violent games; nobody is saying that you’re a bad person for enjoying either, nor are the people you’re attacking even trying to take the sexist games away. They’re just highlighting the sexism to make it clear what these games are — you make a violent game or a sexist game, and you can play a violent game or a sexist game, but the premise of deconstruction and cultural analysis (which is where most of this discussion of sexism is coming from) is that culture shouldn’t go unexamined, that the people who are making and consuming it should think about its underlying meaning and message.

        (You don’t even have to agree with that; cultural critics aren’t going to march into your living room and take away mindless entertainment, even if they could. But they’re writing for the people who like to think about what they make and consume.)

        When videogames get criticized as violent, you don’t see people saying “no, they’re not violent!” or “how dare you call me violent!” When someone for the NYT says “hey this game is hella violent”, you don’t see people forming angry mobs to harass them. Yet making even the most blandly-obvious statements about how omnipresent sexism is in a lot of games (as, I think, most of the Feminist Frequency stuff is) gets a huge backlash from people who feel insulted simply by having it mentioned. And the reason for this, I think, is that there are a lot of people who enjoy sexist videogames (which is fine, just like it’s fine to enjoy violent videogames), but who don’t want to be reminded that those games are sexist.

        (The other part of it, I think, is that there are a lot of people out there with culture-war axes to grind who want to deny the entire concept of sexism as an omnipresent element of culture — people who oppose anything that Feminist Frequency says simply because it has “Feminist” in the name. That’s it’s own thing, but people coming from that perspective need to recognize that their own politics are pretty out-there and that it’s dishonest to pretend that their disagreement is grounded in anything else.)

        • Distec says:

          I disagree with a fair bit of this, but I do appreciate you responding to me the way you did. I feel like I need to narrow down the following:

          A) What’s actually meant when people label something as sexist. This can seem like pedantry to people who think the meaning is textbook, and it’s not productive to endlessly labor on these ultra-specific definitions. But this is a large conversation with many voices, and it seems clear to me that not everybody is on the same exact page.

          B) Granting the accusation in A) to be true, whether it’s actually problematic. This is where I feel people who make arguments similar to yours end up shooting themselves in the foot and invite criticism; that it’s not just sexist, but also bad and unhealthy. Some might not even distinguish the two terms; sexist content is inherently problematic. I recognize that this is not the argument you’re making, but I would think it dishonest to say that nobody is making it at all.

          I can’t write a full-length response between office work I’m supposed to be doing, so that might have to wait. But cheers any way.

  20. Carlos Danger says:

    Yeah they should stop trying to blame guns for violence and get on the gravy train and blame global warming. Much more cash there.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Don’t be fatuous. Climate science actually has a broad, multidisciplinary consensus behind it, unlike psychology.

  21. Universal Quitter says:

    Given their history with the global war on terror, I correlate the APA with the rise in torture, extraordinary rendition, and the proliferation of CIA black sites

  22. Chorltonwheelie says:

    I once got so angry and confused playing an Anna Anthropy game I broke a pencil.

  23. PancakeWizard says:

    Almost as bad as the scientific research relating video game sexism.

  24. Ejmir says:

    The “science of psychology”.

    I’ve never seen a truly scientific study of psychology. At the best, it is empiric (and that’s how it heals people).
    Psychology is like economics: plagued with biased, ambitious people and other scammers.

    If you want something scientific about our behaviour, ask the neurosciences. If you want to know how violence is treated and possibly encouraged/induced in video games, ask people that know how to analyse movies, books or painting.
    For my part, I’m a philologist and I’m used to read all kinds of speeches – including some that occasion hate and violence. And indeed some video games work like that. But I don’t think that the hate of big spiders, orcs or other aliens can provoke much more harm than the hate of Tywin Lannister or Bellatrix Lestrange.

    In other games, it’s more about (often childish) competition. It’s a strong violence in words (not very different from the one between roman supporters of different chariot teams, or sometimes between two greek philosophers, at least according to Loukianos) but nothing that would lead to anything serious.

    Of course, people that are already violent (or very naive) will be worse if they play video games. Just like violent (or naive) people that read the Bible or the Quran. That’s why young children should really NOT play video games. (and almost ANY video game because they are more sensitive to addictions, which lead to frustration and violence)

    • gwathdring says:

      I think this attitude is preposterous.

      Neuroscience has it’s share of unknowns and misconceptions and misapplications but it’s a lot less interested in discussing and assessing them because, well, look there’s data see we made data and it’s science.

      Psychology as a field is too broad to pan on the basis of it being “unscientific” unless you have an incredibly unscientific definition of science.

      Scientific study is about following and detailing procedures so as to make your findings sensible, debatable, repeatable (or not) to others. It is a system of collecting and discussing and processing information, not a system of Truths. Science isn’t a replacement for religion. Science isn’t a continually edited Wikipedia page. Science is a complex endeavor that seeks nothing more or less than clarity in asking and answering questions.

      That leads to truth. That leads to data. That leads to verifiable information. Sometimes. Or it might seem so for a while. That’s the ideal, at least.

      Psychology does all of these things. As a field, it has led to a more robust understanding of human cognitiion and behavior. It has led to repeatable, actionable information about human growth and development. It has led to mistakes and misinformation, but so has the study of biochemistry–and good luck arguing biochemistry isn’t a damn science.

      Any sufficiently complex system is going to be difficult to penetrate, study and understand. Any system will be especially difficult to understand through the terms and processes of that self-same system. But what, exactly, is the alternative? Guessing? Reading Freakonomics? Reading Plato?

      Neuroscience is not an alternative to psychology. It does not, as yet, have the depth and breadth to replace psychology. Psychological research has allowed us to improve many lives through developing treatments for mental illness among other things. It has allowed us to develop many of the fundamentals on which neuroscience is based.

      Like any science, the problems boil down to poltics and literacy. This is no different in pharmacology, biochemistry, botany, geogoly, physics, climatology … the problems boil down to politics and literacy. Don’t blame the mere concept of studying human thought and behavior for shitty politics and shitty literacy on the part of you and others.

      • AbyssUK says:

        Just wanted to highlight, what an awesome reply the above is, well done gwathdring. Have some sort of AbyssUK point.. or something..

        • TheLetterM says:

          Agreed. I have never wished so hard for a “+1” button as I have today reading all of Gwathdring’s comments. Go get yourself a cookie, you.

      • HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

        “Science isn’t a continually edited Wikipedia page.” It should be though, having little tags that can warn people about “ideologically motivated research” for example would prevent lots of douchebags from using bad studies to justify their terrible beliefs

    • HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

      “I’ve never seen a truly scientific study of psychology.” Thanks for letting us know that you are incredibly ignorant.

      “At the best, it is empiric (and that’s how it heals people).” Wow this is completely wrong. First off all science is almost synonymous with empiricism so you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Secondly, the biggest reason therapy helps people is rapport and unconditional support.

      “If you want something scientific about our behaviour, ask the neurosciences.” You must be joking, brain scans are laughably useless in most fields of study, at best you end up with vague correlations, at worst you are completely unable to see whatever it is you want to study.

      “Of course, people that are already violent (or very naive) will be worse if they play video games.” Common sense is almost always wrong, of course.

  25. jsbenjamin says:

    This – the APA – is the same organization that recently had quite the kerfuffle about condemning, of all things, torture. I can only conclude that their “findings” are highly suspect – and highly self-serving.

    • gwathdring says:

      The APA is pretty awful. :( It’s a shame, because a lot of great Psychology happens in the US. The APA just makes everyone look bad.

    • HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

      “about condemning, of all things, torture.” Actually it was about how people all the way to the top (including the director of the Ethics Office hahahaha) literally condoning and supported the use of torture.

      “The Hoffman report is sending shockwaves through the APA. The director of the APA Ethics Office, Stephen Behnke, considered the “chief of staff” of the APA/Pentagon/CIA collusion, is out, followed by the “retirement” this week of the APA’s CEO, Dr. Norman Anderson, the Deputy CEO, Dr. Michael Honaker, and the executive director for public and member communications, Rhea Farberman.”

  26. Havalynii says:

    As someone who has worked with the mentally troubled and the violent, your environment has a huge impact, and while no single external factor is necessarily going to “make you” become violent, if you surround yourself with negative influences it is a verifiable fact that it will eventually impact your thought processes. Maybe violent games by themselves won’t be the deal breaker, but if you combine it with violent music, violent reading material, violent video consumption, violent pornography, negatively reinforcing friendships, etc. you quickly end up with a violent individual with associative tendencies, and you never know which external factor is going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s why it’s important to watch out for warning signs in the people we care about (and give them permission to do the same with us); no one is intrinsically beyond the possibility of a violent snap.

    As I frequently tell my kids: What goes into our eyes and our ears, goes into our brain, then eventually into our hearts, from where it comes out through our hands and our mouths. But the first step is to use your feet to take you to a place where what is coming in is edifying.

    • DeepFried says:

      What we see and hear clearly does have some influence on our actions, if that wasn’t true advertising would be a much smaller industry. However, there is a very big gulf between minor influence like buying one product over another and a radical change in behaviour from normal to violent.