Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Violent Video Games - Jeffrey Goldstein

Starting off with a snapshot of Mr. Goldstein to put a picture to his words.

The first thing I noticed about this article was its “encyclopedia like” style and that it is full of a ton of good information and quotes. Goldstein begins the article stating his goal of looking critically at definitions and empirical studies dealing with the video game violence issue. He also lists a few questions that he hoped to answer by the end of the chapter. They are:

What is a violent video game?
How does its violence differ from other media violence, and from real life violence?
How do consumers of video games perceive the violence before them?

Since there is so much information and references in this article, I’ll go through some of the things I found most interesting in each of the sections.

In his first section, Meanings of Violence in Video Games introduces a couple interesting ideas. First he talk about the Third-Person Effects in Media Research, which is the idea that media affects others, but not oneself. This effect has even been seen in older children talking about younger children. We have also seen this effect in a number of media pieces from class. Additionally in this section he proposes the idea that the exaggerated use of violence in video games, film and other media is a product of the American society. This is interesting because I know I’ve heard before that there have been studies where non-Americans watched sessions of American television and after surveys it has been shown that they saw the world as a scarier and meaner world.

Goldstein introduces three research strategies mainly used when studying the effects of violent video games; correlational studies, experiments, and meta –analysis.

First he goes into correlational studies and addresses right away that there is little causal information that can be pulled from these. Any study he mentioned, he quickly said no significant relationship could be concluded.

His experiments section has the more detail and information. I’ll go into a few of them because I think they are interesting. First, the study conducted by Craig Anderson and Karen Dill where they tried to find two video games similar in everything but violence. They chose Wolfenstein 3D and Myst. Even though the experiment found some interesting things, it was criticized because the games, which were supposed to be similar other than violence, were not.
He goes through multiple experiments and for each of them presents their flaws. Even in the meta-analysis, which is when you take the data from many studies and try to find conclusion with all of the data clumped together.

At the end of the article he concluded that, “the research is too inconsistent and insubstantial to allow any conclusion to be drawn.” Overall the article is an excess of information and experiment about video games and violence, but it draws no conclusions.


Adrian said...

I actually really liked this article, if only because I felt that his critical eye, perhaps biased though it may be, still actually applied criticism to these studies. Many of them were just RIDICULOUS. "Oh, I see that this group didn't use fatalities, SO LET'S EXCLUDE THEM FROM OUR STUDY". I think he rightly included his editorial "(!)", in that section.

Eric M said...

It was a little bit of a refresher to read Goldstein's piece as he didn't readily to submit to all the studies and the supposed links that were found between violent video games and violent behavior. He rather pointed out the flaws in each study and left me the reader questioning these and the rest of the studies I might run into about this very topic. With the other readings we've read in this class, it has become clear that we really don't have the one solid piece of evidence that links violent games and violent behavior. Until that happens (if it ever does), I don't see a reason to regulate them. This would usually be where I go on a rant about the parents role in terms of what their kids are consuming, but I'll save you all of that.

Sarah. R. said...

I thought this article was a good counterpoint to the congressional testimony, in which one of the people who was testifying actually said something totally contrary to Goldstein's article - he suggested that there is so much evidence out there from studies that we already do have sufficient information to draw conclusions. Goldstein really casts doubt on this notion, although that isn't to say that the studies haven't been valuable even when they have "failed." The important thing is to do these sorts of research review articles that take a step back and examine methodologies in critical way.

I'm probably going to refer to this article when I do my own game paper for tomorrow, actually. I like the way he categorized the different media effects, although it could be confusing at times.

Jasun said...

It's rare one comes across a well-written critical article of this nature. Placing each of these studies under the same microscope reveals the failings, as well as stengths, of each. As one who reads academic studies with a (sometimes too) critical eye it's refreshing to see a comprehensive review which takes this same tack.

"I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb."

rtaylor said...

I really liked the conclusion of this article. It's nice to see someone that will admit to knowing that the inforamtion gathered from studies so far is unconclusive. Another point he made that interested me was the third person effects in media. It is a theory I've never heard of before, but is definitely something I catch myself doing. A very good read.

Jon72585 said...

Although this article was a little dry (which was brought up in class), I too enjoyed it. I found the analysis of all the data that has been collected on the effects of playing violent video games. I especially liked when he brought up that the expressions on the kid's faces were the same whether they were playing a "violent" game or a "neutral" one. (Let me pause for a second here to say that "neutral" is a strange word choice for a game that doesn't have violence). This just reinforces to me the fact that violent video games and other games are the same in that they are first and foremost meant to be fun. Shiguru Miyamoto!

Marlon Heimerl said...

Correlation does not always equal causation. How many times have we heard this? Though, this saying is crucial, especially when comparing Wolfenstein 3D and Myst. I have played both of the games and to even compare Myst to Wolfenstien is truly ludacris. Shooting Nazis through a maze of doors that either open or do not just isnt the same as piecing together complex puzzles. I am glad that the author took a critical approach to assessing this study, because I certainly would not have trusted its findings.