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Stats Games

Video Gamers From the '90s Have Turned Out Mostly OK (arstechnica.com) 239

A study reported on by Ars Technica indicates that video games, much ballyhooed (alleged) source of mental, physical and psycho-social ills for the kids who spent a lot of time playing them, don't seem to have had quite as big a negative effect on those kids as the moral panic of the past few decades would have you believe. Instead, There didn't seem to be an association between the number of games the children reported owning and an increase in risk for conduct disorder. When examining depression among shoot-em-up players, there was evidence for increased risk before the researchers controlled for all the confounding factors, but not afterwards. Of course, there's a lot of data to go around in the several studies referred to here, and the upshot seems to both less exciting and less simple than "Video games are good, not bad!"
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Video Gamers From the '90s Have Turned Out Mostly OK

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  • Paging Jon Katz... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @12:41AM (#51460331) Homepage

    In regard to social issues, I do like that Slashdot is getting back to its roots [slashdot.org] at least! :)

  • Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mantrid42 ( 972953 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @12:43AM (#51460339)
    Just like the kids who grew up on metal, and comic books, and rock 'n roll, etc.
    • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @01:19AM (#51460453)
      There's a reason people dismiss claims of IRL "harm" the from Tipper Gores or Jack Thompsons or Anita Sarkeesians of the world. The burden of proof is always squarely on them, they almost always fail to meet it, and years later we (as often as not) get scientific evidence showing the opposite.
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        That doesn't stop them from crying about xyz being the new moral panic. Then again, some of them are just out for the sweet victim buxs like Anita Sarkeesian, others are out to make a name for themselves like Tipper Gore, and others think it's their job to save everyone like Jack Thompson.

      • There's a reason people dismiss claims of IRL "harm" the from Tipper Gores or Jack Thompsons or Anita Sarkeesians of the world.

        It's because every generation remembers something that their parents were absolutely certain was making the younger generation into terrible people. Facebook. Video games. Rock-n-roll. Jazz. Newspapers. There's a dozen quotes from notables stretching back to 2000 BC expressing the same, "Kids these days..." sentiment, all based on nostalgia for their own half-remembered, half-fantasized childhood.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I wish people would watch Sarkeesian's videos (or read the transcripts) before making assumptions about what she says.

        Thompson claimed that games directly trained and incited people to commit murder. Sarkeesian criticises games for not having good female characters because that makes them poorer games (in terms of story, options for female players who want a female avatar, artistic merit etc.) Her argument is not "poor representations of women in games make people harm women in real life", it's that games,

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 08, 2016 @09:31AM (#51461721) Homepage

          I wish people would watch Sarkeesian's videos (or read the transcripts) before making assumptions about what she says.

          You mean the part where she says that "everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic" [youtube.com] or the part where she starts whining because it doesn't cater to her political ideology and she gets upset over it and goes running to the UN?

          Yeah, she's no different then Jack Thompson...except for her gender. Which get's her a free pass where any criticism is labeled has harassment.

          Note that she doesn't need to offer "proof" for her opinion that portraying women (and men) better in games is the right thing to do. She is a feminist, her position is backed up by decades of feminist theory, and you can debate it all you like. She isn't making a falsifiable hypothesis, she is stating an opinion based on a large body of widely accepted philosophical work.

          No, she needs to offer proof. The second she claimed she wanted to make the series to be included in the classroom and for educational purpose. And the second she decided that she wanted to go speak before crowds. She's wants to spew her stuff, but doesn't want anyone to turn around and call her out on her bullshit.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            The problem with six second YouTube clips is that they don't offer a lot of context. What she actually said was that when you first start learning about feminism it might seem like "everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic", but as you learn you grow out of it and start to be more productive.

            In other words, she is saying the exact opposite of what that clip makes out she is. She is saying she doesn't believe that.

            Full transcript for reference: http://lybio.net/anita-sarkees... [lybio.net]

            And the second she decided that she wanted to go speak before crowds. She's wants to spew her stuff, but doesn't want anyone to turn around and call her out on her bullshit.

            So

            • I highly recommend everyone watch the whole video, because if that 6 second clip wasn't enough to make you thinks she's batshit insane:

              Unfortunately many contemporary discourses in and around feminism tend to emphasize a form of hyper individualism which is informed by the neoliberal worldview. More and more, I hear variations on this idea that anything that any woman personally chooses to do is a feminist act, this attitude is often referred to as ‘choice feminism’. Choice feminism posits that

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                I think she was quite clear when she wrote that, I don't know how you got from "it's possible that some actions a woman might take could harm other women, thus we shouldn't blindly support every choice women make" to "women must only do things that benefit women as a collective".

                Actually, I suspect you got there by deliberately misinterpreting what is an exceptionally clear and carefully worded statement that was obviously designed to avoid just such a misunderstanding. In fact, it addresses one of the bigg

              • I will start respecting third wave feminism when it starts advocating for women to register for the draft, for more women in male-dominated blue collar industries, and when women start marrying men who earn less than them. For bonus points, eschew and rebuke female privileges and exceptions, like the "right" to slap a man, serve lighter sentences for the same offenses, automatically being granted child custody, etc. True equal treatment means taking the bad along with the good.

                • You know what?

                  I'm perfectly ok with just feminism. In my mind there's no reason to be against people who think they advocate for equality and there's no reason to say, "if you believe in equality then you must do XXX", everyone has their own idea of what that is. A lot of people will call themselves feminist because they believe in the dictionary definition, but it's not a central part of their lives and they wouldn't support the crazies if they were in the same room with them. What I do have an issue wit
            • I read her transcript. She isn't suggesting at all that people "grow out of it." She firmly states that every power system is sexist and racist ( as a belief,) and that she learned to strategically choose her battles.
            • I read her transcript. She firmly believes that everything is sexist and racist; however she claims to have learned to be less whiny and annoying about it.
              • I double posted because my phone is stupid. Disregard this please.
              • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                What she is saying is that simply noticing and pointing stuff out isn't helpful and is actually just annoying. You have to transcend that and see it as a bunch of systems all interacting. So it's less about individuals or individual examples, and more about the systems that produce them.

                That's why she does videos that cover the history of video games and how tropes came to exist, and how game mechanics evolved to perpetuate them. In fact her whole point, and the reason why many game developers love her, is

                • What she is saying is that simply noticing and pointing stuff out isn't helpful and is actually just annoying. You have to transcend that and see it as a bunch of systems all interacting. So it's less about individuals or individual examples, and more about the systems that produce them.

                  That's why she does videos that cover the history of video games and how tropes came to exist, and how game mechanics evolved to perpetuate them. In fact her whole point, and the reason why many game developers love her, i

                  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                    Some people refer this this type of claim as "conspiracy theory"

                    Except that, the whole point of it is that there isn't a conspiracy at all. Tropes are not deliberately created, they evolve naturally. I actually said that in the text you quoted, somehow in your mind it became the exact opposite. Look, I'll highlight it for you:

                    It's not that some evil misogynist sat in front of his computer, rubbing his hands in glee as he designed another Ms. Male Character trope to keep the women down, it's just that they are a thing, part of a system.

                    • Except that, the whole point of it is that there isn't a conspiracy at all

                      Which is exactly what a conspiracy theorists would say.

        • For the most part I'd agree with this, but you might be underplaying her skepticism a little by saying she isn't arguing "poor representations of women in games make people harm women in real life".

          She certainly is arguing that poor representations of women in games contributes to general atmosphere that ends up resulting in tox... uh, I better avoid academic jargon that's widely (deliberately?) misunderstood here.. behaviors by many that are harmful to women. She also points out I believe that such tro

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            You are correct, I should have made the distinction a bit clearer. While Thompson says that games directly cause people to physically harm others, Sarkeesian says that at most the harm comes from normalization and propagation. You put it better than I did, I just want to acknowledge your point and say I agree with it.

        • I think it is you who needs to watch the video's again, or read the transcripts. It's not hard to find her accusing games of having real life impact.

          Damsel in distress part 1:

          "Just to be clear, I am not saying that all games using the damsel in distress as a plot device are automatically sexist or have no value. But it’s undeniable that popular culture is a powerful influence in or lives and the Damsel in Distress trope as a recurring trend does help to normalize extremely toxic, patronizing and

      • by bigpat ( 158134 )

        There's a reason people dismiss claims of IRL "harm" the from Tipper Gores or Jack Thompsons or Anita Sarkeesians of the world. The burden of proof is always squarely on them, they almost always fail to meet it, and years later we (as often as not) get scientific evidence showing the opposite.

        Population studies usually drown out subtle influences and factors. I think you have to look at individuals that do have issues and then see how the availability of games, drugs, booze, television, social interactions all come together to make their problems worse or better.

        • by jbengt ( 874751 )
          From TFA:

          The researchers focused on two outcomes of the DAWBA: risk for depression, and risk for “conduct disorder,” which is a term describing antisocial behaviors in children.

          Finding no significant correlation between video gaming and those outcomes does not really prove the broad conclusion of the headline that "Video Gamers From the '90s Have Turned Out Mostly OK".

          • by bigpat ( 158134 )

            From TFA:

            The researchers focused on two outcomes of the DAWBA: risk for depression, and risk for “conduct disorder,” which is a term describing antisocial behaviors in children.

            Finding no significant correlation between video gaming and those outcomes does not really prove the broad conclusion of the headline that "Video Gamers From the '90s Have Turned Out Mostly OK".

            Right. And I don't think the supposition has ever been that video games increase the prevalence or incidence of any particular disorders in children, but rather what negative (or positive?) effects certain types of video games and length of time playing would have on children already prone to behavioral or psychological issues. Whether gaming (amount of time spent, and types of games played) makes things better or worse for those kids both in the short term and longer run... But good luck finding a contro

      • A story about how gamers from the 90s turned out okay. At first things seems great, people talk about how obvious this was, how earlier predictions of 'moral decay' turned out to be nonsense, that we're all perfectly well-adjusted reasonable people. Then someone mentions Anita Sarkessian.

        Oh dear. We were doing so well too...

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      And the kid who drank a beer.
      And the kid whose family owned a pit bull.
      And the kid whose father owned a handgun.
      And the kid who read Huck Finn (no matter how boring he thought it was).
      And the kid who never sat in a child safety seat in the car.
      And the kid who occasionally skipped school.
      And the kid who played football.
      And the kid saw scary movies at a young age.
      And almost all the rest of the kids who didn't follow the rules we are all told are so critically important.

      • Re: Surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The ones who don't turn out okay are mostly the kid who was not loved unconditionally and comforted in times of distress.

    • Re:Surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @07:32AM (#51461313)

      Exactly.

      When examining depression among shoot-em-up players, there was evidence for increased risk before the researchers controlled for all the confounding factors, but not afterwards.

      This makes it sound like playing lots of video games is a effect of depression rather than the cause. Which sounds just as plausible to me than it being the other way around. Just like people already at risk of social withdrawal, for them video games can be a great time killer.

      • It's actually kinda awkward to draw any conclusions from that as adjusting for other factors isn't trivial.

        Imagine, for a second, if A causes B, but only when combined with C, D or E. (And C, D, and E don't cause anything on their own, only when combined with A)

        A is going to look like a cause of B, but C, D, or E will be relatively difficult to correlate with B, especially if they're common. That may result in people assuming that, say, C had nothing to do with B simply because A was present.

        I know,

        • You call it "basic stats" but to do statistics you need hard data to work with, which is probably really hard to get on for such a subject.

          First of all, how do you define your data points? Which factors are you looking at, and how do you quantify them? Are you sure you don't forget about any factors, like how many oranges a person eats per day? Or are you really sure that eating oranges is not in any way related to how many video games one plays? For a really sound study all that has to be taken into accoun

    • I think what they are saying is that the problem children are in some degree drawn to the "bad" games, but that the games don't make the problem children, nor make them worse.

      So, yeah, if you've got a random school full of kids, the ones with the visibly violent interests, be that metal, comic books, rock 'n roll, video games, or whatever, will have _statistically_ more problems later, but it's not a judgement in and of itself, and the lack of visibly violent interests is in no way a guarantee of good behav

    • Re:Surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

      by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @11:18AM (#51462373)

      Yup, it is funny how every "next technology" is always scapegoated by the last generation. I've pointed this out in the past [slashdot.org]:

      1900 Film
      1920 Prohibition (Alcohol), Phonographs
      1930 Jazz, Movies
      1940 Radio
      1950 Dancing
      1960 Psychedelic Drugs, Sex
      1970 Rock n Roll, Movies (again)
      1980 MTV, DnD, Heavy Metal, Comic Books
      1990 Computer Games
      2000 Internet and "strangers online"
      2010 Guns

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )
        Since when are "guns" a "next technology" when they've been around for hundreds of years.

        Besides, the great Satan these days is social media.

        If they actually targeted guns as a problem with the same vitriol, they might do some good for once.
    • Finally, vindication. Enough talk, let's celebrate [youtube.com]!

  • by Soulskill ( 1459 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @01:02AM (#51460399)

    Full study here [plos.org].

    Pretty tame conclusions, but I'm glad they're still doing research into this. I'm actually really curious to see what kind of psychological effects show up (or don't) as graphics technology gets ever closer to perfect fidelity. Not in the moral panic or "we must legislate this" sense, but just to understand whether and how a technology is capable of damaging us. VR is right around the corner, and game developers are focusing constantly on immersion -- this makes me wonder whether a sufficiently advanced game could cause PTSD, or a similar condition. I suspect not now, and not soon, but it'll probably be an issue some day.

    • (In my humble opinion) I think the key difference between response to a game and response to reality is the fact that the player knows one is make-believe before they engage in it. This fore-knowledge that you're in a simulation coupled with a desire to be there goes a long way to blunt the response your mind has to the input.

      If it's possible for games to cause PTSD, then I imagine it would be possible to get PTSD from film and books as well. I'm not suggesting that this isn't the case however; But I do thi

  • don't forget Eric Harris

  • Unfortunately the newest moral panic is the representation of women in video games leading to rape culture, misogyny, and what ever else the moral crusaders have within their sights.

    Will we ever learn?

    And suppose there was a clear link between videogames and violence, exactly what is to be done? There were riots when the Rites of Spring was first performed, yet it is not damnatio memoriae, almost as if these relationships aren't quite as static as we are lead to believe, which is why there is so much confl

  • by Daniel Matthews ( 4112743 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @01:55AM (#51460579)
    They didn't even get to ask the ones who are dead or still in prison did they? What happened to the other 2/3 when they started the study? Even with the people that did respond there is a clear pattern of puzzle games being increasingly more popular over violent types as the person's education level rises.

    I am not sure what to make of it all but I am still glad I installed these games on all the machines on my LAN, http://www.chiark.greenend.org... [greenend.org.uk]
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @02:12AM (#51460625)

    I definitely didn't turn out OK... in fact, I died of dysentery.

    • Your family should totally sue the makers of Oregon Trail for making you think that you could safely ford that river.
  • Me as an example (Score:4, Insightful)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @04:06AM (#51460869) Homepage

    I'm doing ok, I got a successful retail business and I got pretty straight morals, yes I've done things as a teenage that makes my kids and others go WTF? But that's another time and place in history.

    We use to play TONS of video games, believe it or not we actually walked in snow and -10+ temps for 30-45 min each way to the closest video game rental place (Overwaitea Food). One day a few buddies of mine came over and asked me to stash some Nintendo machines and box on top of boxes of games. I sure as hell didn't mind as my eye and thumbs twitches at the gloriousness that will be happening to me in the next few week of my teenage life. I truly had a Nintendo thumb and 3 hours of sleep for weeks. Well it turned out fine for me and majority of my friends.

  • by symes ( 835608 ) on Monday February 08, 2016 @05:33AM (#51461075) Journal

    There are games and there are games. And my guess is that games that map onto the real world more closely may have more intrusive effects than others. How could PacMan realistically affect real world functioning? You are guiding a blob of pixels around a maze, there are no real world corollaries to this. However, interacting with with photo realistic others in simulated environments could have a very positive impact. Take as an example some vulnerable kids who have learned to deal with others with aggression, then expose them to a simulated where game play success is only achieved through appropriate interactions, we might see positive effects in real world behaviour. At least this is the thinking of some developmental behavioural scientists... whose names and work I cannot at the moment find.

    • Actually, Pac-Man may be the cause of today's obesity epidemic. All those kids spent their childhood playing a game where the object was to eat everything as quickly as possible, and then they became fat... that can't be a coincidence!

    • How could PacMan realistically affect real world functioning?

      Unfortunately, the summary is missing an important fact: the study _did_ control for the type of games played; the study (at least attempted) to only measure the effect of violent video games, although they relied on self-reporting of game type by the children who played them (a method which, while much better than nothing, still has issues). So yeah, the study authors are well aware that PacMan isn't going to cause violence.

  • In other words, the study conclusively showed that the idiots had cause and effect backwards: Violent kids liked violent video games, rather than violent video games turned kids violent.. Which is what most intelligent people realized was going on long ago.
  • They never seem to do studies about how the kids turn out who's parents were control-freaks and used things like "video games are evil" and "D&D is evil" and "pogs are evil" to force their kids into the line the parents want them to adhere to.

    Admittedly, those are just the excuses those parents use, and as a society our approach seems to be "Well, kids are chattel, nothing we can do about it if their parents are horrible."

  • A shooter investigation called the Spiral Notebook said James Holmes and Eric Harris played lots of violent video games.

    But this doesnt imply the reverse. Say half the 20 million males between age are frequent gamers. That would mean only 1 in 100,000 become shooters. In fact gamers could be blamed for every ill in society because it is such a common hobby.
  • According to the study, the only long-term effect they could find was a marked increase in violence towards crates and barrels. The store by that name [crateandbarrel.com] is investigating moving to a strict "you break it, you bought it" policy, as losses mount.

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