5 Reasons The Latest Violent Video Game Study Means Nothing

By: 12.08.11

#2) …Which the Methodology Might Have Failed to Take Into Account…

The claims made by the study don’t really seem to hold up when you look at the methodology, because there’s just not enough data collected to make a definitive statement, of any sort.

The study worked like this: 28 young men between 18 and 29 were selected for the study due to their minimal gaming in their past history. They were given an MRI, and then 14 were issued a laptop with “a shooting video game”, with instructions to play it for ten hours over a week, and half weren’t. Then MRIs were administered at one and two weeks, after the “gamers” had stopped playing. The MRI tests used Stroop tasks to determine functioning of these two areas.

Every single part of that frankly rings alarm bells. Why were no women involved? Why only 18 to 29 year olds? How were their “minimal gaming” pasts determined? What video game were they assigned to play? Was it a commercial product, a game designed by academics for other reasons, or one engineered for the study?

One thing that stands out: why were Stroop tests administered? At the very least, they must be aware that the theory that the ACC was shown to perhaps be tied to emotional control because of films shown to the subjects, not Stroop tests. “Emotional” Stroop tests do exist, but it seems an unusual choice.

But here’s the key thing: their behavior wasn’t tracked and no relevant medical data was taken. There wasn’t even any self-reporting, as far as we can determine from released materials.

That’s a huge problem. If you’re going to say there are possible behavioral changes, you really should, you know, demonstrate changes in behavior.

#1) …And There May Be Excellent Reason For All Of That

Here’s the most important line, in our opinion, of the entire study:

“The research is supported by the Center for Successful Parenting.”

This is the website for the Center for Successful Parenting. You might have noticed they have a bit of an agenda. In fact, they’re a lobbying organization.

Here’s what really stands out: we can’t find anybody who actually runs this place. The closest we can get is a profile of it as a charity. It seems to collect about $500,000 every year…but from who? There’s no “donation” link anywhere on the site, no treasurer identified, nothing. We couldn’t find any financial reports. Heck, the privacy policy on the site isn’t even a link.

A quick scan of the email address led us to a limited liability company run by Christopher Rohe, who may have a few neoconservative political ties, but for all we know, this guy sells Internet access from his house. It’s a dead end.

In other words, this study was funded by a group with an agenda that apparently is unwilling to actively identify anybody who could be contacted directly.

Yes, that smells funny to us too.

So, there you have it: five very large grains of salt to munch on.

Around The Web