Dr. Patrick Markey is someone you may not have heard of before, but he is an associate professor of psychology at Villanova University, the director of the Interpersonal Research Laboratory, and a former president of the Society for Interpersonal Theory and Research. Yesterday, USNews published his opinion piece “In Defense of Violent Video Games“ that sheds some light as to how studies conduct – or rather how they half-ass – the link between videogames and violence: “In fact, most people are surprised to learn exactly how video game research is conducted. The average experimental study in this area involves having one group of people play a violent video game while another group plays a non-violent video game. After a short game play session (usually around 15 minutes) participants’ aggressive thoughts or behaviors are assessed.”
Dr. Markey then explains how these statistics are then connected to violent acts: “Using such a methodology, researchers have found that individuals who play violent video games are more likely to expose others to loud irritating noises, report feeling more hostile on a questionnaire, give longer prison sentences to hypothetical criminals and even give hot sauce to people who do not like spicy food. Although these various outcomes are related to unfriendly thoughts and behaviors, it is quite a leap to imply that the desire to expose others to loud noises or hot sauce is similar to the violent events which occurred at Sandy Hook.”
The doctor goes on to point out that “In the past 15 years, sales of video games have consistently increased whereas homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults during this same time have decreased.” and “Research does not show a clear link between playing violent video games and real world violence.” Anyone looking to educate themselves or others should certainly consider this piece a must read.
There is of course the matter of this being an opinion, but looking at his credentials this man is obviously knee-deep in the trenches of psychological research and understands why and how current issues are being spun by lawmakers and news outlets alike. In fact, upon reading this I saw why there is a fundamental disconnect with how the data is designed to be obtained and that people are viewing these short-term results as long term results. This reminds of the old adage of a leg and an infection, where chopping off the leg is better than treating the infection to save the body. This just further strengthens my and I am sure others’ opinions that those who do not understand games are trying to cut out gaming instead of trying to find out if there really is a link between videogames and violence.
This isn’t the first time a powerful group didn’t understand something and tried to condemn it by any means necessary. The classic argument is of course Rock & Roll, which now is heard everywhere. The one you may not have heard of involved the popular pen and paper based game Dungeons & Dragons, which was blamed for murder and suicide in 80′s; 60 Minutes even ran a story of it in 1985. Video games are just the latest victim of misunderstanding and ignorance in this new century and the only way to change it is by educating those who don’t understand it before someone else comes along and puts another bad spin on it.