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Breakdown and Response to the ECA's Statement against the Violent Content Research Act of 2013

A point by point explanation and analyzation of the ECA's statement. Both agreements with points and criticisms of points are included.

Article link: HERE

ECA’s Statement link: HERE

 

The ECA has released a statement in opposition to the Violent Content Research Act of 2013. Their statement included a background of the issues (being that the big hub bub began in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting) and included quotes from the Senator that illustrate a pre-disposition against video games as an art form. ECA states their belief that the research to come about from this bill will be tainted from the beginning due to unfair bias from Senator Rockefeller’s view point.

I however, have a response for the ECA that I think is important to understand. I also want to point out a few logical errors in the ECA’s statement, and their own biases that come out in their statement.

 

Response to the ECA

Dear ECA,

While I am a staunch proponent of Video Games as Art Form, and even video games as a non-harmful, if not, very beneficial medium for people alive today, it is not without a grain of salt that I take psychological research into video games. I would compare the research and determinations of cigarettes as a side example for the reasons why I support it. Think about it, cigarettes are still legal. They have restrictions, and rightfully so, because cigarettes are harmful to smokers and non-smokers alike. This determination only came after federal research on the health effects of cigarettes. Its not a stones throw to understand that people would’ve been powerfully seperated on this issue too. At least, until the facts came to light.

Now, health problems connected to smoking, and psychological problems connected to video games are two different things that are studied different ways. However, much of the research on the psychology of video games exists already in a state of bias. No one thus far has been able to say anything other than that video games may affect a person’s aggressive response, but no true library of research has determined the exact short-term or long-term effects of playing video games in a big way. The only way to have such powerfully comprehensive research is to have a large body of researchers doing so.

In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any question about this. Video games are an art form, they are protected by the first amendment. That senators demand federal funding to research the psychological effects is about as logical as federal funding determining the harms of homosexual marriage on the sanctity of straight ones. It feels like an issue the government shouldn’t even concern itself. But this is where I bring the light on a different industry, and that’s the video game industry. Why isn’t there large scale psychological research being funded by the ECA? Or the AAA game industry? Where is our response as opposed to our opposition to this research?

If this is the only way anything is going to be said about video games, then perhaps its what should happen. You know what will clear all of us and silence anyone stupid enough to challenge us? Research. Facts.

 

Logic in the ECA’s Statement

I started out this article believing in a lapse of logic. However, upon reviewing the questionable sections I realize I was mistaken. There are still some sections I would like to go into further detail, however. Here is a point by point breakdown of the ECA’s points:

  • Violent crime in the United States and across the world has been decreasing since the 1980’s, while video game sales have been increasing.

This is a wonderful fact. Turning on the news you’d believe that violent crime has increased. The idea of this statement is that the amount of crime per 100,000 people has decreased since 1980. The amount of actual violent crime is actually exactly the same. So nevertheless, an increase in video game sales is not associated with an increase in violent crimes. It is important to note the scales I saw had an increase in the early 90s, a time when video games were available and were selling. This isn’t so much to express a counterpoint as to get people to read past the X per 100,000 figure mark. Our countries population has increased by 100 million people since the 80′s.

 

Per Capita is a term that essentially means per person, which means were dealing with percentages based on populations again. This stat would have a direct effect on the amount of violent crime per 100,000, since if more people per 100,000 bought more video games you’d expect the stat to increase.

My bottomline, is that a lot more calculation than per 100,000 people must go into order. In the U.S. per 100,000 must be multiplied 3,300 times to get the national average rate. In other countries, this multiplication is much smaller, thus the actual average amount is much different. The ECA focuses on a broad standpoint:

A: If Video Games caused increased amounts of violence, and

B: Increased video games sales caused increased amounts of violent crime, then

C: Video Games caused increased amounts of violent crime.

This logical train of thought has been shown to be untrue by the above statistics… but next time you see a per 100K statistic, make sure you double check the actual numbers, not the averages.

Those two facts alone empirically demonstrate that there’s no connection between video games and real world violence. Here are more reasons this legislation will achieve little:

  • Researchers on both sides of the subject agree that you can’t study violence, only aggression. So there is no way to really come up with answers to the questions posed.

This statement is baffling to me. While its probably true, violence being a determination that can be made in a snap judgment or planned over several decades, and the human brain being as deeply personal and hard to read as it is, there is likely no way to make a study that definitively tells us whether or not Video Games (or Movies, Music, Shooting Ranges, Traumatic Events, War, Stupid Politicians) makes anyone behave more violently.

However, this statement underminds, to me, the benefit from long term studies on the matter. This isn’t the ECA saying this bill is bad, this is the ECA saying that research in general. to meet these goals, isn’t going to tell us anything useful at all. Which I wholeheartedly disagree with. Then again, I’m a psychology minor.

This probably should’ve been above the previous one. This one is important. The Senator does already believe what the research will find. One of the most important aspects of science and the scientific method is that you go in with a hypothesis, but not with a conclusion you are trying to reach. This is where the ECA’s main problem with the bill comes in, its the idea that they will find absolutely nothing in this incident.

  • The CDC has had questionable practices in the past when it comes to studies and their conclusions. They have ignored their own data in past studies and have done so regarding past video game studies.

This one sounds fishy. They state this, but provide no links as to what they’re talking about. While I know of one researcher who has consistently insisted on the negative effects of video games, his actual studies have provided no solid grounds on which to pin violent behavior on them. Even if the CDC is guilty of this, that’s the whole point of this series of studies. To establish a more solid ground. There hasn’t been a study that’s successfully said anything of importance on the psychological effects of video games.

  • This legislation was proposed without talking to leading experts in the field.

I absolutely believe this. But, what field is the ECA talking about? Psychology? Video Games? They don’t specify, and I believe that either one of those fields should have an important impact on the writing of the bill. More likely, this is just to provide another point on saying that the Senator didn’t seek assistance in writing this for the sake of creating a good or factual study, instead it illustrates a political intention. That would be a problem.

  • HHS, the FTC and the FCC have been included in this legislation; they have no role in this study and will likely see this as a way to expand their authority, politicizing the issue even more.

The bill states: Violent Content Research Act of 2013 – Directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), jointly, to undertake to enter into appropriate arrangements with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

The bill doesn’t mention what appropriate arrangements, or at least, not the library of congress’ summary which I pulled this from. FTC and FCC are about trade and content. HHS is about the health of the nation, which I’m sure includes psychological health. The video game industry is already regulated by the ESRB Rating Board, the strongest organization for determining video game ratings.

  • The recent shootings that have occurred have not been by children. More recent suchincidents have been gentlemen in their 60s or older.

While its true, the recent shootings that occured have not been by children, I do not know where the ECA got the statistic that recent incidents have been by gentlemen in their 60s. Frankly, a blanket statement like that could be a massive cause for concern. Without a definition of recent incidents, this counter point is completely baseless and presents no relevant information. Even so, the bill is drafted in response to mass killing, rampage killers, and school shootings. A look at the recent murder statistics in the U.S. shows that the age range of these killers is between 20 – 50, no men in their sixties and this includes some women (from about 2010 – Current Day) with the most average being men in their 40s. It didn’t take me long to look at that, and could be false, but this is the issue of the response and this is why the bill was drafted.

It’s also important to mention that the average gamer is a male in his 30s and that over 40% of the gamer population in the country are females. Any study that does go into this, will need an average inclusion of all genders to be taken seriously or accurately.

An investigation in this case means an article written in response to the Sandy Hook shooting, which is one person. There are no other links. It is important that it reveals the way in which the media makes up information regarding crimes to play to interest groups. Before anyone goes shouting CNN, FOX, or MSNBC, its important to know that UK Magazines are the ones who reported badly. It’s also important to note this reveals a politicization from the ECA. This is a BAD SENTENCE. It makes it seem like no recent shooters played video games and provides evidence to one. While you may find out more from studying, the bottom line is that this is an illogical sentence meant to make you agree with the ECA and fight against the other powers that be… despite the already overwhelming reason to not like this bill.

  • There are numerous positive outcomes created by video game play, all of which are ignored by Congress.

No link, so I don’t see how they can say this is true. They don’t blame a few senators they’re blaming all of Congress, who, its important to mention HAVE NOT EVEN VOTED ON THE BILL YET. I understand where they’re coming from though, the media, the politicians all seem to focus on the negative aspects of video games. If you aren’t on a video game magazine’s website, you probably aren’t hearing a positive opinion. However, can I offer a different perspective?

Perhaps, rather than CONGRESS IGNORING it all perhaps A FEW SENATORS BELIEVE that violent video games have unexplored harmful effects. Is their logic mostly pinned on shootings perpetrated by people with obvious mental disorders? Yes. Is it clear for anyone who plays games that more good than bad comes of it? Yes. How many members of Congress play video games? No idea, and people tend to fight against things they don’t know. However, that’s no reason to place a more than likely false statement from the ECA. Again, what the hell are you guys doing, I was supporting everything else you said.

Now that the ECA feels again like providing a concrete link to a study that verifies their claim, clicking on the study linked shows the deductions of their studies. It’s important to note that their study had a sample size of 41. Of this sample size only 5 expressed an interest in video games. This stat needs to be taken in stride as well as this study was conducted at a period of time where video games were not as prevalent. No doubt the amount of people playing video games and the amount of school shooters has increased so a re-evaluation of these statistics would be interesting to see, which we may get from this study, even if the research comes out skewed.

Its also important to note that causation is a step above correlation and much more difficult to study. Its also not the type of things that could be determined by the study linked. Causation requires a lab study.

  • Congress is ignoring the studies have already been done. Why are we to believe that any conclusion other than what Senator Rockefeller wants will end this subject once and for all?

If this was the case, why are they opposed to him doing his study? Because it would come up with the wrong results. Well, if those results aren’t going to be listened to there wouldn’t be any harm in the study, right? This violates the ECA’s argument, the inclusion of this and several other points as being illogical are carried on the shoulders of the viable complaints from earlier. The ECA is now acting in a fervor not in logic, as they were before.

Furthermore, this would end the subject. It would end the subject on the wrong note. If Rockefeller’s study comes out with a positive link between simulated video game violence it would give congress all the weight they needed to sling anti-game legislation, which is precisely what the ECA is worried about occuring.

  • No matter the outcome, at least one side will not agree with the conclusions drawn by the study. The debate will continue, just as it has after previous studies.

How has this stopped anything in the history of ever? If there is an issue there will be two sides that believe completely the opposite of each other. That isn’t a logical reason to halt legislation that will provide research, that is human nature. It is not a reason to not support this legislation.

 

Conclusion

I find the ECA’s statement includes several great reasons to oppose this legislation. However, I think its important for the federal government to act as a voice of reason in the world. People argue too much, and this bill will open the gate for research to be done. However, under the leadership given in this bill, whether or not the proper research will be done is questionable, too questionable by the ECA’s standards. Whether you support this bill or not is more of a facet of whether or not you believe optimistically about this sort of thing or pessimistically. Is it possible that a biased research will find results in keeping with that attitude? We’ve seen past examples regarding race. If video gamers are another group of people to receive bias against them for their hobbies, this is the birthplace of that kind of legislation. Or, this is the birth place of our salvation, a logical breakdown of why Senator Rockefeller’s opinions and his cohorts, are wrong and why violence in video games is just like violence in anything else, something that we do not need to worry about.

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