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'Boozy Gamer' Researcher Questioned 109

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 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 drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @05:14PM (#15207837) Homepage Journal 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 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.

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • by wibs ( 696528 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @06:44PM (#15208429)
    I'm with you, the study is weak, but you aren't exactly arguing from a fair playing field either. For example...

    >> Death of a cartoon figure registers as little more then a Saturday morning cartoon with little association.

    That one sentence could have (and probably has had) an entire study devoted to it. Presenting assertions like this as facts, without anything to support it, weakens your argument in the exact same way you're trying to weaken the study's.
  • Re:And I ask again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swv3752 ( 187722 ) <swv3752&hotmail,com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @06:57PM (#15208500) Homepage Journal
    There are studies that show that moderate use of beer or wine is beneficial. A more relaxed attitude towards sex leads to a healthier happier person. Unless you have a caffeine free life and take no pain relievers, you really should shut up about drugs.

    Besides these were not younger teenagers, but adults. They are allowed to vote, die for thier country, and depending on age and jurisdiction drink.
  • by DesireCampbell ( 923687 ) <> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @07:40PM (#15208734) Homepage
    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.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler