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'Boozy Gamer' Researcher Questioned 109

Posted by Zonk
from the we-only-like-good-beer-at-least dept.
Via GameSetWatch, a Gamespy interview with Sonya Brady, the person who ran the research study we reported on a while back. The one that claimed gamers enjoy getting high, drinking alcohol? From the article: "What kind of feedback have I received? My feedback from research colleagues and other older adults has generally been positive. What I find most interesting is the feedback I have received from adolescents and young adults. Some people are interested in learning more about the research, even if they are skeptical of the results. Other people have been very angry."
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'Boozy Gamer' Researcher Questioned

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  • by alfs boner (963844)
    other people have been very angry

    These are the people that would be better off as "boozy gamers" :D

  • by Saven Marek (739395) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:44PM (#15207564)
    When I saw "Boozy Gamer" I thought for a minute I was reading about some future Ubuntu release.
  • Explain to me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:46PM (#15207582)
    ...how gamers are any different from other [young] adults, in that they as a group tend to enjoy drinking and experimenting with drugs? For that matter, how are 'gamers' defined as separate from young adults as a general population?

    And for the question of the year: Who really gives a shit? Come on, young people are demonized as a matter of course, particularly for drinking or doing drugs. Trying to draw a causal link between games and that sort of behavior is unnecessary.

    • To the first question: With the average age of a gamer being 27, I don't think you can really call gamers young adults, as that generaly infers the 16-20 age range.

      To the second: You're right, no one should give a shit about it. Such a link, even if it did exist, wouldn't be particularly helpful information to anyone except hand wringers.

      • With the average age of a gamer being 27, I don't think you can really call gamers young adults, as that generaly infers the 16-20 age range.

        I suppose it's all a matter of perspective, but I wouldn't consider a 16 or 17 year old a "young adult", I'd consider them a teenager. I'd put the "young adult" label more in the 20-25 range than the 16-20 range. So a 27 year old would be pretty close to qualifying.

        • Yeah, subjectivity is the reason why I bracketed "young" off. I've heard the definition reach down into the tweens and stretch into the mid-twenties. Social habits like drinking, partying, playing games and the like tend to be pretty stable through that long period though, from personal observation at least. The only real differences between the younger and older ends of the set tend to be availability ("let's see some ID") and personal mobility ("Mom, can you give me a lift to Billy's party?").
      • Re:Explain to me... (Score:2, Informative)

        by SoapDish (971052)
        From the summary that Sonya Brady gave (linked to from TFI): "We randomly assigned 100 male undergraduates aged 18-21 to play a game relatively high in violence, Grand Theft Auto III, or a game relatively low in violence, The Simpsons: Hit and Run." So, the sample population of the study was aged 18-21, which most people I know would consider as (young) adult. The study certainly didn't look at the average gamer.
        • It should also be noted that they're all UNDERGRADUATES... A population with one of the highest percentages of people drinking and doing drugs--they tend to have the free time and the disposable income for such hobbies... or at least the ones who didn't have to work/take out huge loans to pay for their studies...
    • And for the question of the year: Who really gives a shit?

      Parents who watched Grandma's Boy [rottentomatoes.com] and figured out that Little Johnny's interest in XBox and gaming magazines is going to a lead to a life of boozing, smoking and unsafe sex with grandmothers.
    • ...how gamers are any different from other [young] adults, in that they as a group tend to enjoy drinking and experimenting with drugs?

      Yeah. I didn't see the original article, but reading this summary made me think a more accurate title would be "study finds that lifeforms on earth in general enjoy getting high, drinking alcohol."
    • Well, I guess the theory is that if we can find out what activities are funn enough to want to do while drinking and getting high, We can stop people from getting high and drinking by stoping them from doing these activities.

      I guess with all that time on thier hands, they should be able drive around and find somethign constructive to do like finding new ways to get high and drink. /chicken and egg sarcasm thing.

      It is funny when you think about what people might try with information like this. sometimes the
  • Stupid headline... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigZaphod (12942) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:46PM (#15207593) Homepage
    ..makes it sound like he is being questioned by police or academics or something for, perhaps, faulty research - when in fact he's being questioned in the context of an interview! Here I was all excited to join the crowd of people slamming this guy for his anti-videogame-ways only to be thwarted by the english language! Now what am I going to do with my afternoon?
  • They are no different in there purpose than movies, tv, visualizations, or fingers... they are cool and fun... when using recreational pharmacuticles or intoxicating beverages.
  • by the_demiurge (26115) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:56PM (#15207679) Homepage
    The original research said that a group of people were made to play either GTA or the Simpsons driving game (Hit and Run). The people who played GTA had more permissive views of drug uses than the people playing Hit and Run. Assuming that their methodology for those results are valid, the research still leaves a lot of questions unanswered:

    What if they were made to play other sorts of games? What would be the differences between Katamari Damacy and Tetris, for example.

    What if they were exposed to other sorts of things? What would be the difference between playing GTA and watching Casino? Or between watching football and watching fishing.

    I think more data is needed to avoid making an oversimplified generalization from these results.
  • If people genuinely think that this research is flawed and feel passionate about the issue of whether videogame violence has any negative effects, I encourage them to pursue a career in research and to potentially design their own research studies in the future. Like many other careers, a career in research requires strong mathematical, science, and writing skills. I would like to see people's energy directed towards not only becoming involved in the debate, but also in the science.

    So if you don't like t
    • This seems fair to me. You don't dismiss a published study by saing 'nuh uh'. You can either give specific examples on how it's intrinsicly flawed or do your own study. Anecdotal evidence doesn't cut it.
      • As I said the first time this article came out, from the study's abstract, I'm going to go with the blood pressure as the underlying cause behind the differences between the groups. The odd thing is, she does not mention it during her conclusion. Possibly because, when looked at it that way, it's an really just two things we already know: i.e. if you get someone's blood pressure up, they are more likely to be confrontational & not think as much about their actions; and playing a fairly realistic vid
    • So if you don't like the conculsions of her research, go to school, get a degree and do your own. Almost sounds like she has no interest in input from anyone but her peers. Most of which are probably not gamers.

      However, at the same time, it is kind of like asking a WWI General about how the war is going on in the trenches when you are both sitting in a nice French Chateu sipping on noon tea.

      Chances are they are quite educated about the analysis and the subject of war fare, but you are going to get quite a d
    • Where they will train you to be as poor a researcher as she is, and penalize you for "wasting time" attempting how to research for real. Sorry, one would have better results persuading the terrorists to take out the current psychological and mental health cabal.
  • You can see it in the title of this story, "questioned" he wasn't questioned, police question. He was interviewed. And 'boozy gamer'...
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @05:08PM (#15207782) Journal
    If you are slightly older and wiser then your average teenager, you might have seen similar reactions to other studies.

    Believe it or not young ones but there was a time when some people claimed smoking wasn't just not bad for you but actually GOOD for you. Boggles the mind doesn't it? You can imagine that smokers having grown up with idea that smoking a good thing didn't react all that well when people started telling them how bad it is.

    Even worse when smoking parents were being told they were harming their childeren.

    It is a sorta holy war. A constant one is the debate as to who is right when it comes to working hours. The americans with long working weeks or the europeans with short ones. Part of the problem is perhaps that their is no right answer but I think the main reason that such a discussion always becomes a flame war is that each side feels themselves being attacked for a fundemental part of their livestyle.

    To test the effects of violent games on gamers lets use another hobby but one where we have very clear examples of the violence it generates. Soccer.

    I am sure even americans have heard about violent soccer fans (hooligans) that are a major problem in europe and have been since I was a kid. Almost every match needs a sizable and costly police force to keep things under control. Even with this huge cost to the taxpayer it still frequently goes wrong and you the results are very clear closed of city centers that look like a disaster struck and a constant bill for public transport in destroyed vehicles (and a train costs a lot to rebuild).

    Now I challenge you with this. You go on public tv in europe and claim that soccer is the cause of this violence and that restrictions should be put in place to curb the violence. Good luck.

    The evidence of violence is very clar as is the link. If a hundred hooligans go out of the stadion and on a rampage it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you forbid audiences at soccer matches you would limit the problem.

    Hell, even simpler suggestion. Let the soccer clubs pay for the police presence. They make billions they can afford it. Good luck again.

    So, nobody likes to be told that their hobby is the cause of problems. Nobody likes to be told what they should do.

    So is that strange that gamers react strongly to being told that their hobby is bad and should be regulated or even banned?

    It doesn't matter if the accusations hold water. What matters is that your lifestyle is being questioned. The smoker doesn't want to be told to stop smoking, the soccer fan doesn't want to pay for the soccer hooligans and the gamer does not want to be restricted in the games he can play.

    Very normal. But is it helpfull?

    Smokers have lost, soccer fans hangon because soccer is a billion dollar industry with a wide fanbase. Gamers? Well, we are not exactly popular are we. We don't have the public on our side.

    Does it really help our case of "violent games don't cause violence" if we react violently against anyone who claims it? Isn't that rather like claiming "I am peacefull and will kill anyone who claims that ain't so"?

    It is easy to feel attacked in your personal freedom but when you attack your enemy for claiming your violent you are only proving his point.

    Worse, perhaps we are like those smokers who claim that smoking ain't bad for you. How many gamers are even willing to consider that the link between violence and gaming could exist? Based on past experience, not many. This is another holy war and both sides got their fanatics.

    • by Aim Here (765712) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @05:34PM (#15207994)
      I think you need some facts.

      Police forces in Britain already send the football clubs a bill for policing their event. The police don't make a profit but they do recoup a big portion of the costs.

      Violence between fans at football matches is very rare these days, due to policing and segregation and whatnot. What violence there is tends to take place away from the football ground itself. If a fight happens between rival fans on a train 30 miles away from a football stadium, how realistic is it to blame the football clubs? Come to think of it, if there is some sort of causing link between gaming and violence, it's likely so subtle and tenuous that you really cannot point any finger of blame at gamemakers, or censor them. You can't say speech isn't speech because if you say something to half a million people, two of them might twist your words enough to use them to kill somebody. Pretty much every preacher, politician or rock star in the land would have to be forcibly silenced if that was the case.

      Top football matches in the UK are already rather expensive and the football fans rarely complain, except if venal American asset-strippers happen to take over their club.
      • I am from holland where the current story is about a match between Feyenoord and Ajax and how the police had to arrest a few hundred feyenoord supporters to keep them from attacking Ajax supporters.

        Oh and a smaller article about 2 ADO fans who were caught trying to set fire to a Ajax clubhouse supposdely in revenge for a group of Ajax fans who attacked a ADO clubhouse and beat up the people inside.

        Yeah, that sounds like things being under control.

        NOT.

        As for the police being sent a bill, good for you. So

    • Almost every match needs a sizable and costly police force to keep things under control. Even with this huge cost to the taxpayer it still frequently goes wrong ...

      In the U.S., such security is universally billed to the event, including all necessary overtime and equipment. The cost comes out of the ticket prices, and so the cost to the taxpayer is nil. Is this not the way it is done in Europe?

    • You can imagine that smokers having grown up with idea that smoking a good thing didn't react all that well when people started telling them how bad it is.

      Ah, but there is a direct connection between smoke and harm. Everyone who smokes harms his health, and the health of the people around them. However, whether the quoted study is correct or not, it only states that gamers are more likely to drink and get high. So while the smoking study says something about ALL smokers, the gaming study says something ab

    • Well I think you are wrong. If the soccer would be banned, the hooligans would find some other way to cause some havoc. It's not the game that those kind of persons are really interested, it's the violence. So don't go making stupid generalisations, mr Older-And-Wiser.
    • 1) Smoking causes cancer.

      2) Obviously there is/has been violence at football games (but I doubt the causation between the two is 100%).

      3) There is no proof that video games cause violence (at least no more of a percentage of causation than simply being alive causes violence).

      Therefore, videogamers DO have a right to protest such a horrible unintelligent study.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @05:14PM (#15207837) Homepage Journal

    ...to properly critique it. In particular I would be suspicious of the way in which the questions were asked, but neither gamespy article talks at all about what steps were taken to avoid inaccurate results, aside from that they "randomly" assigned the 100 students to the two games. In fact they don't even tell us what "random" means in this case. Did they just pick every other one? Or did they assign them all numbers and then pick 50 numbers to figure out who would play one of the games?

    I just sent feedback to gamespy.com about their article, as suggested on page 2. Hopefully they'll get back to me, but I'm not holding my breath. Here's what I sent 'em:

    Basically no information is given on methodology. Without this information it is not possible to form a rational opinion of the validity of the study.

    Following is a series of small excerpts from the one paragraph on methodology, with my questions:

    > We randomly assigned 100 male undergraduates aged 18-21

    Just how random was this? In particular, what was the method of creating random values, and what was the method of assigning values to students, and thus, students to games?

    > to play a game relatively high in violence, Grand Theft Auto III, or a game relatively low in violence, The Simpsons: Hit and Run.

    What were the demographics of the two groups? Do they actually indicate that the sample was large enough? For instance, was one group noticably younger or older by average or median? What backgrounds did the members of the groups come from? Did one group or the other have a greater history of drug or alcohol use, or of violence?

    > Random assignment means that any differences observed after gameplay should be due to differences between the games rather than any potential differences between the people who played each game.

    It SHOULD, but only if the sample is large enough. Was it? We have no way to know.

    • I think that this study is weak, mostly because you can poke some pretty serious holes in it with only the information we currently have. The things that stick out in my mind are the age of the participants in the study, as well as the conclusions made.

      So they chose 100 male undergrads. This demographic has some general qualities that are relevant here. The first is that they often are risk-taking individuals, and this comes from the general mindset of young males out on their own for the first time.

    • It also does not address whether the participants were likely to willingingly skew the results.

      I mean, c'mon, we are talking about a bunch of immature males that just got asked to play games. I remember when I was in college, I would probably intentionally skew the results if I was in such a study.
    • Just how random was this? In particular, what was the method of creating random values, and what was the method of assigning values to students, and thus, students to games?

      Random is random. It's very easy to divide 100 people in two random groups. The exact method is not relevant. Sure, it's thinkable that some mistake was made there, but then you might as well question if they added the numbers correctly, and a hundred different things.

      It SHOULD, but only if the sample is large enough. Was it? We have no
      • Actually, we do need more info to know whether the difference was significative or not. The article doesn't give us the probability that the difference isn't significative, and we'd have to know (at least) the standard deviations and the averages for the different groups to have a shot at estimating that.
  • And I ask again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Oldsmobile (930596) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @05:16PM (#15207851) Journal
    And I ask again, how is being permissive towards the use of alcohol, sex or even drug use a problem? Alcohol can be used in moderation, sex can be safe when using condoms and some drugs can be perfectly safe when used in moderation, so safe, that many are prescribed by doctors!

    This research is like saying "reading books about food will make people hungry" or "reading a wine tasting magazine will make people more permissive towards alcohol use". Geez!
  • I tried to drink while playing videogames but it was too hard to hold my beer AND the controller.
    • by SpectreHiro (961765) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @05:48PM (#15208088) Homepage
      Drinking while gaming can be very tricky business, so it pays to put a little forethought into your imbibing. The following tips should help:
      1. Choose hard liquor - Drinking beer or wine is too hands on. Try drinks that are effective with quick gulps (whiskey, vodka, tequila, etc). These also lessen your need to visit the piss-bucket.
      2. Choose the right time - The best times to drink are A) During level loads, B) While waiting to respawn, C) Before gaming (pre-gaming) and D) While paused.
      3. Consider technological answers - There are numerous small pieces of equipment that can ease your in-game drinking, from something as simple as a straw, all the way to Camelbacks and those awesome beer-hats worn at baseball games.

      And if drinking is too hard... Try drugs instead.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Haha, too funny.

        For those curious, the effect of drugs on gaming depends largely on the drug(s) chosen. For example:

        -Alcohol: Eventually you can't react for shit, and your ability level drops off rapidly. Losing was never so exciting. Neutral.
        -Caffiene: Quickening of reaction time, however games can become frustrating because of load times and deaths from over-twitching. Recommended.
        -Marijuana: Similar to alcohol, except without the bathroom breaks, and an insatiable hunger. Hide the cheez-its. Neutral.
        -Coc
      • Whisky or quality rum are what I prefer for drinking and gaming. It's even better if you have a headset so you can share your drunken ramblings with your guildies. I love doing that.
    • Try MLB 2004 (I think) homerun derby. Only one button to hit so you have a free hand and is tons of fun while drinking.
    • I tried to drink while playing videogames but it was too hard to hold my beer AND the controller.

      Thats what nintendo revolution will do for you: be able to drink your controller while you use your beer to play...hic!

  • Of course some people are going to be angry. When you present skewed information and lies as fact you are going to upset someone.
  • People who enjoy populating alternate realities are interested in narcotic consciousness expansion? Shocking!
  • Correlation is not causation.
    • Not yet, but soon!
    • Re:four words (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sigma 7 (266129)

      Correlation is not causation.

      But it is a symptom of causation.

      What was the research topic again? Was it where a group of 100 was split into two groups, one playing a GTA game and the other playing a Simpson's game, and the GTA players had a higher level of social tolerance to alcohol? If so, a reasonable person can conclude that the Simpsons game reduces the social tolerance for alcohol. While I haven't played the game in question, I do know that The Simpsons TV show ridicules drunks by the portrayal o

  • by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @06:09PM (#15208213) Homepage Journal
    "We randomly assigned 100 male undergraduates aged 18-21 to play a game relatively high in violence, Grand Theft Auto III, or a game relatively low in violence, The Simpsons: Hit and Run."

    So they used 100 guys 18-21, likely most of which were from one geographic area. They also had no control group, so there is no way to prove that Gamers are any different than Non-Gamers, only that 18-21yr old males who play these games have some difference.

    "Those study participants who played Grand Theft Auto III had greater increases in diastolic blood pressure from a baseline rest period to gameplay in comparison to participants who played The Simpsons."

    Which is much more likely based on the fact that GTA has much more realism and realistic punishments. Death and prison register in our minds as real possible penalties. Death of a cartoon figure registers as little more then a Saturday morning cartoon with little association.

    "After gameplay, GTA III players had more negative feelings, more uncooperative behavior, and thought that using alcohol and marijuana was less harmful to their health than players of The Simpsons."

    other then being subjective and with out statistical backing, this is a great result. With only 100 people in the pool, any findings could be easily skewed by a few outliers. Also, there is nothing that states the pool sizes. So if the GTA pool had 65 participants and the TS pool had 35, it would be factual to say that the GTA group had more negative feelings. Also, the result is poorly worded, I highly doubt that everyone in the GTA group thought that "using alcohol and marijuana was less harmful to their health." It is more likely that GTP players were "more likely to think that using alcohol and marijuana was less harmful to their health."

    "Among those people who grew up in more violent homes and communities... Among those people who grew up in more violent communities..."

    So now, out of 100 people they are making conclusions for the entire male 18-21 gaming community based on a hand full of people. Assuming a third of the participants grew up in a violent house hold, another third in a violent community, and the final third grew up in Mayberry, and then each of these groups was evenly distributed between GTA and TS, you're looking at 16 people to base your research off of.

    "Consistent with the results of many other people's research"

    None of which appears to be sited.

    With no statistics posted, this should outright be tossed as a valueless publication. And judging by their claims and process, any statistically substantial findings they made are most likely due to outliers skewing the results.

    -Rick
  • by thestuckmud (955767) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @07:04PM (#15208547)
    Here's my observation of the way the study is being presented: Playing an intensely violent and realistic video game led students to say that alcohol and marijuana use are less harmful than they would have otherwise.

    Where was this published, in the journal "DUH!"? Since when is it a surprise that people reduce their assessment of other risks when confronted with a specific risk? I don't worry about government wiretapping when I'm high off the deck rock climbing. We are, quite simply, wired to deal with the risk we are facing. A real control in this experiment would have put some of these randomly selected students in a risky, blood pressure raising situtaion (climbing could work, ethics guidelines are not likely to allow a simulated mugging), and ask them the same question.

    Games like GTA really do induce a "reptile brain" response. I'm 45 years old, and find it kind of scary getting behind the wheel after virtually driving wrong way the length of the Las Veturas strip at full tilt with a mob goon tied to the hood of the car. In that situation, I am hypersensitive to driving risks, and likely not worrying about other things.

    Last, somebody needs to point out that you can't reasonably play these games when you are wasted. GTA is freakin hard to play. I assume that computer games provide an alternative to drug use, rather than fostering it as is implied by the headlines.
  • Are we seeing the birth of Jack Thompson's successor? He's slowly falling out of favour, and with continued litigation against him we can be sure few will listen to him. But know we see a "doctor" actually "researching" the subject. She seems much more reputable than Thompson - and this could mean the start of some serious problems.
  • Other people have been very angry.

    no duh, what if someone did some research and found that people who research the effects of gaming on people were big time drug & booze users?

    Would the researchers just sit back and go "yeah he's right, I'm totally a coke feind" or "I love to get loaded before touching those machines" or would they be rather pissed off?

    Hell in any relation to anything, would the majority of people feel proud to be called a Boozy high person?
  • Any game with cool visuals can only be enhanced by hallucinatory chemicals.... What the hell, it's not like I was ever actually skilled at playing them anyway...
  • Ubuntu Linux 7.20 Boozy Gamer, new release due in 2007.
  • I believe these kinds of studies reflect the culture as a whole, since it's virtually impossible to isolate root causes and make useful observations in such a chaotic setting. It's worth noting that each new generation reinvents itself, in the context of it's own development, and this process greatly affects the profile of the individuals who compose the group. Observe the evolution of the gaming community from the perspective of the kids, if you want to understand where this experiment is going. I sponsor
  • First, her sample size is 100. Second, her sample is 100 males between 18-21. Third, her sample is undergraduates.

    I think these three items speak for themselves, but to make it more plain: her sample does not represent the gaming population at large, nor does it represent the portion of the gaming population for whom we have the greatest desire to shield from violence and permissive attitudes towards drugs: people under the age of majority (i.e., 17 years old and younger).

    If I had the time and still ha
  • I remember reading about this research a couple of weeks ago, well, really more like skimmed an article, but, my first thought was "correlation does not imply causation." All the research does is prove that people it asked to play GTA happened to drink and smoke more than the people that were asked to play the other game (it was Sonic or somthing? ...my memory is bad, all that drinking and smoking). Tell me again how this is research? Let's do a study to see if people that play Horde like Cheerios while pe
    • Oh my god. I never noticed before, but since I got back into WoW a few months ago I started eating cheerios.

      And get this:

      I play horde!

      I would eat frosted flakes but they're worse for you. Maybe Alliance don't care so much about their sugar intake?

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