Thursday, 1 September 2005

Effects of video game violence

by Dave Munger of Cognitive Daily

In the last two days, Dave looked at two studies related to effect of violent video game on human attitude and behaviour. See Critiquing the video game violence studies and More on video game violence. In both situations, he went back to the original papers, looked at the data and noted carefully the conditions under which the data were collected. Here is his conclusion: [my emphasis]

Does Williams and Scoric’s data undermine that of Gentile et al., discussed yesterday? The two studies hardly intersect. The average age of Gentile et al.’s population was 13; Williams and Scoric’s was 27. Gentile et al. used participants’ own ratings to determine how “violent” the games they played actually were; Williams and Scoric preselected a game they had arbitrarily determined to be violent. Gentile et al.’s most significant result was a correlation of exposure to video game violence with physical fights; Williams and Scoric didn’t ask their participants about physical fights at all.
psychologists have a hard enough time figuring out how people react to different colored squares. Understanding a complex social phenomenon like video games is not going to be a simple task, and making public policy based on that understanding will be even more difficult. Perhaps the best we can hope is for policy-makers — and the general public — (not to mention science writers) to understand that we’re dealing with a limited set of data, and to not put too much faith in any single study.

I think Dave's comment applies to educator's use of game as a teaching strategy. The data is just not enough to draw any conclusion yet. I still prefer to learn from the game designers rather than blindly use commercial games in our classrooms.


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