To Know For Sure

The Sandy Hook school shooting was a tragedy, a horrible horrible crime that has rightfully appalled all of us, around the world.

It may also be the tremor that starts the avalanche against the increasing violentization of our media.

Unfortunately when these events occur (these days) elements of the news media like to immediately jump on the, “these guys play violent games” bandwagon… even when they don’t.

Now Obama has announced that, along with a raft of other measures, that the CDC will be conducting a study into the effect of violent video games on people. I say it’s about time.

To date there have been a number of such studies, and none to my mind have been completely conclusive.

The studies that have pointed out causative effects have been conducted or funded by groups that have some form of agenda. Groups like The Parents Television Council have a philosophical bias against violence and sexuality in the media and are well known for their attempts to force bans on TV shows. The terms of reference for many of their studies are going to produce the results they want to see. Can we trust any studies from groups like this?

Likewise, can we trust a study saying games do not cause violent behavior when they are funded by an organisation that produces games, or is related to the video game industry? I suspect most gamers would like to say that we could, but let’s be realistic here, okay?

The few independent studies we have seen have indicated that violence in games is not a causative factor in the violent incidents we have seen with alarming regularity. There is an indication that violence in games temporarily raises aggression levels in teens, but that it diminishes quickly. I would guess that is the result of increased adrenaline in the body. I suspect that adults also see a similar effect but are able to control it a littl;e better.

So the announcement that the CDC is going to do this study is perhaps a good thing. Assume that there is no bias here, I don’t know if the government will pressure them for a result so lets give them the benefit of the doubt. The CDC is in the business of conducting health studies (mental health studies?) and would be well versed in using good scientific method. Any result here is likely to be correct.

I welcome this. Honestly I would like to know if violent games and media are actually causing problems for society.

Does this mean I would sanction censoring them, if they were bad?

Certainly not!

I believe that as adults we have the right to make choices for ourselves. That the government nanny state has infiltrated itself far into our society and consists of people that think they know what is better for the individual than the individual does. I have the right to read, watch, listen to, and most of all think about anything free of government interference.

But a correctly executed study does give me more information on how to conduct my life and the choices I make. I’d like to know for sure to put all this speculation and misinformation to rest.

Bring it on!