Agenda Driven Science to Vilify Video Games is Getting Old

Known video game critic Brad Bushman and his partners, Alessandro Gabbiadini, Paolo Riva, Luca Andrighetto and Chiara Volpato have set their sights on video games again, concluding that video games drive a lack of empathy among boys toward women. The link between video games and societal impacts is a tired one, with the only proven conclusion being that there are no causal links between video games and violence.

Bushman and team tested 154 Italian high school students and concluded that they served as enough of a representative sample to draw a conclusion. There was no mention of any pre-testing to determine initial perceptions or biases and the students were only allotted 25 minutes to play their games, which doesn’t provide much time to formulate new perceptions. Furthermore, Bushman never acknowledges that games with violence aren’t intended for boys, as they typically carry a Mature rating for audiences over the age of 17. The ESRB has this rating system in place so that parents can make more informed purchasing decisions for their children.

This study is the latest example in studies-that-don’t-really-prove-what-the-researcher-says, and New York Magazine’s Jesse Singal does a great job of outlining where one of the biggest inconsistencies lies: the study findings found no straightforward evidence to suggest that video games decrease empathy for female violence victims.

Furthermore, Singal pointed out that in a press release used to promote the study, Bushman says that it was significant that males who played games that were violent but didn’t have a sexist component didn’t show the same lack of empathy as those who played the games that combined sexism and violence. However, the study showed no statistically significant difference between the two groups given their empathy scores.

Thankfully, Singal and gamers around the country have called foul on this study – it just doesn’t add up. However, negative perceptions about games and gamers will continue to exist when a major publication like the Washington Post takes a click-baity approach to headlines and doesn’t question the findings or motives of a researcher who has dedicated much of his work to vilifying video games.

Unfortunately, there will always be individuals out there who take an ill-informed perspective on video games, and outlets like the Washington Post who provide them with a platform to spew their misinformation. Defending against these attacks is why VGVN exists and we need your voice in fighting back. Consider joining VGVN if you’d like to protect video games.


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