Since the American Psychological Association’s report that linked violent behavior to video games, the industry has been under constant scrutiny and attack by censors and parent groups. Now, 200 university level academics have come together to criticize the report, citing that it never properly assessed the source material it used for validity.
Instead of creating the report themselves, the APA actually used meta analyses of two existing sources that were published between 2007 and 2010. They also picked 31 studies that were published since 2009 out of a pool of 131 based on a checklist for statistical reliability.
The determination was that there was a “consistent relation” by which violent video game use led to increased aggression and decreased empathy.
Let’s also not forget to note that overall violence among youths has fallen during the period in which video gaming has become more popular.
Here are the flaws that scientists have pointed out in the study:
– While the report ultimately derives from multiple studies, it may be missing the findings of studies that failed to show a link and thus weren’t published, or of studies which tried and failed to replicate previous findings.
– Combining multiple studies may exaggerate small supposed correlations that don’t necessarily stand up. For example, a “gamers = violent” conclusion might be too simple and ignore a more complex explanation such as “gamers are more likely to be male; men are more likely to be violent.”
– The way people express violence in laboratory settings might not accurately reflect behavior in the real world.
– While meta-studies have their uses, it isn’t necessarily correct to assume that lots of studies showing weak evidence of a violence-gaming link can combine to produce a strong evidence base.