On August 14, the American Psychological Association published a review confirming a connection between video game violence and increased aggressive feelings and behaviors. After the review was released the media reacted in mixed ways. Our own Keezy Young wrote her thoughts about the review. She noted that the review was rife with problems. These problems include contradictory findings and the exclusion of any research conducted after 2013.
Violence in video games has been studied for a long time. Before this most recent report, the APA had stopped short of saying there was conclusive evidence of a link between violent games and aggressive behavior. Not surprisingly, the report has gotten much mainstream media coverage. Some of this coverage failed to report the flipside of the story.
Some within the psychological research community think the review is problematic in a number of ways. Chris Ferguson sent a letter to the Gamesnetwork discussion list of the Digital Games Research Association. Ferguson is associate professor and chair of psychology at Stetson University. He had a lot to say about the study in his letter.
Ferguson, as well as many other researchers, believe the review was “stacked with scholars with clear prior anti-game attitudes.” He went on to say that there were “significant methodological shortcomings of [the APA] review.” The shortcomings, he said, involve the fact that the “analysis included only 18 studies.” It also “seemed to kick out most null studies.” In addition, the review included some studies that had nothing to do with violent video games.
More than 230 scholars in the community are so upset that they have sent an open letter opposing the APA’s findings. This letter said the APA’s findings were “misleading and alarmist.”
Ferguson concluded his letter by saying, “I appreciate the efforts of everyone who is working to keep the APA and other organizations like it honest.”