Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Year And No Government Game Studies

Does anyone remember the U.S. President's speech last year regarding Sandy Hook and a call to Congress to fund a study on video games and their affects on children? Some of us groaned because it was pulling away from the other issues that were at hand, such as gun control and mental health. Others applauded it to show that once and for all, games are not corrupting children.

That was a year ago and as Gamasutra followed-up with our government, not a thing has happened since. As Mike Rose pointed out, this wasn't an issue to be taken lightly. Never before have we had a standing President speak about video games in order to find a reasonable, responsible, outcome instead of wild theories. That's great. But, it didn't help push funding forward as we sit here, a year later, with no new information and no changes. After the initial meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, who would head the development of the research team, it all dissolved. The $10 million request never changed hands. Congress sat on their butts and did what they always did (which is nothing, hah!). A few researchers were interviewed, including Dr. Chris Ferguson, an associate professor at Texas A&M who is an active opponent of linking games with violence (with a few studies to trump the notion and following up with fear over violence in video games is a sign of classic moral panic, and not a symptom of games themselves). But that's as far as the research team had gone. A few interviews and good-bye.

There have been studies since the President's request, but not under his memorandum. The only study that seems remotely close to what Obama was pushing for, was held by Mirjana Bajovic at Brock University, that actually focused on teenagers real gaming habits. And the results should be known to adults: Hey, your younger then 17 kids are playing M rated content. Learn the ESRB system (it's really easy! I promise) and start paying attention. It's not to say that all M games are violent and full of nudity, but that mature content needs to be monitored so your kids will have a better grasp of the difference between reality and fantasy.

At least the government hasn't spent the money yet. It probably went to their salary increase.


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