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Relationship Between Violent Behaviour and Video Games | Article Analysis

Relationship Between Violent Behaviour and Video Games | Article Analysis

The essay by Ryan C.W. Hall, Terri Day, and Richard C.W. Hall, “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of Science” is about how science can be exaggerated and used for things that the research done does not support. Here, Hall et al., look at how people have used scientific research to show how violent video games affected young children, and how the Supreme Court will review and interpret this data. This essay was written due in part to the Schwarzenegger v Entertainment Merchants Association case, in which California tried to pass a bill that would restrict access to violent video games for young children. Hall et al. said that both sides of the argument used scientific data to support their claims, and both said that the data supported their claims.

Hall et al. starts their essay off by talking about a debate about comic books from the 1950s. The medical and social science experts brought into the debate wrote articles saying basically the same thing about “crime and horror” comic books as experts today are saying about violent video games, “Concerns were voiced that these comics would lead to a decline in public morals, an increase in violence and aggression, an increase in general lawlessness, and societal disrespect and deterioration.”[1] Because of this, studying the comic book controversy may help understand the Schwarzenegger case, and what may happen to be the outcome of the case. Although medical professionals at the time said that comic books would have an overall negative impact on society, the actual outcome of comic books was a net positive impact on societal values. This was because children have heroes to look up to, something to aspire to be and to learn from. So, it may stand to reason that today, video games may not have a negative impact on children, but they may teach them something about society and being a part of one. This section of the article is important because it is good to look back at what happened in the past to help try and see what may happen in the future.

After this section of the article, Hall et al. goes on to look at both sides of the argument and break down the reasoning and logic behind each argument. Hall et al. first look at the side that are against violent video games. Based on the data given, the researchers on the side against violent video games base their arguments on data differences that would normally not be considered statistically significant, and therefore would not be used for an argument. One of these examples is, “First, the players of violent video games were less likely to help those involved in a staged confrontation than the players of nonviolent games (21% vs 25%)”[2] Hall et al. uses examples like these to show that the arguments used against video games are based off an exaggeration of what the numbers actually say. This example shows only a 4% difference between people that have played violent video games and those who have played nonviolent video games. This difference would be considered statistically insignificant and would not be used to show that people who play violent video games are significantly ruder and more violent than those that don’t.

Hall et al. next looks at the side that does not think that violent video games will have a negative impact. Hall et al. have some good arguments and examples in this part of the essay, although nothing is supported by number-based statistics showing how this was reached, “A study from Iran by Allahverdipour et al. found that “nongamers” and “excessive gamers” both had lower self-reported mental health wellness scores than “low to moderate gamers.””[3] The fact that there is no actual data in this argument makes is underwhelming, and does not allow the reader to draw their own conclusion from data provided, like in the previous arguments for the other side of the debate. There is a possibility that this shows that Hall et al. have a bias towards this side of the argument, so they neglected to show any of the data because they believed that it would be self-evident that this would be the case.

Due to inconsistencies and exaggerations in the study of violent video games, Hall et al. call for a more critical review of the literature about violent video games. Hall et al. make an important point in saying, “It should be remembered that a correlation does not prove a causation. For example, in the past, a correlation was reported between coffee consumption and lung and pancreatic cancer. However, is the real culprit the coffee the person is drinking, or the proverbial cigarette he or she smokes with the coffee.”[4] This fact is true of all scientific research, there may be a variable that wasn’t accounted for when the research was being conducted that connected two things that would normally be unconnected. Hall et al. also make an argument that it may be less parental supervision of children who play violent video games that lead to more violence rather than the violent video games.

Hall et al. next review how the supreme court concluded the violent video game restrictions in California. Hall et al. mention that the supreme court found that the conclusions of the people testifying in favor of the restrictions were exaggerated, thus the law could not be passed. They specifically mention, “[Defense Experts] noted that Dr. Anderson’s testimony, however, does not support such a stark and sweeping conclusion … [Defense Experts] notes that Dr. Anderson not only had failed to cite any peer-reviewed studies that had shown a definitive casual link between violent video game play and aggression, but had also ignored research that reached conflicting conclusions.”[5] This is evidence that the side for restricting violent video games had no real evidence to support their conclusion, and that they actually ignored research that did not support their conclusion, meaning there was likely a heavy bias in their research. This was used to support the belief that scientific research could be changed and altered to support different conclusions.

Hall et al. finishes their essay by mentioning, “It is hard to prove a causal relationship between violence and media to the average judge and/or juror considering the fact that millions if not billions of people have watched violence on television and in movies, listened to rap music, and played violent video games and not engaged in violent acts”[6] and also by saying, “The current dabate about whether violence caused by video games will nit be the last time that groups of social scientists on both sides will feel compelled to weigh in with “hard data and opinions” to advance their political or social agenda.”[7] This is a problem because manipulating your data to make it seem like your research supports your conclusion means that people will be less likely to trust scientific research in court cases. In order to prove conclusions like these wrong, there must be more critical review of scientific testimony in court cases.

References:

  • Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 242-253

[1] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 244

[2] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 246

[3] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 247

[4] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 250

[5] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 251

[6] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 253

[7] Ryan C.W. Hall et al., “A Plea for Caution: Violent Video Games, the Supreme Court, and the Role of ScienceAcademic Writing, Real World Topics. Michael Rechtenwald, and Lisa Carl. Broadview Press, 2016. 253



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