Discussion about the societal impact of violent media continues to make the news, with President Obama calling for research into the relation between gun violence and video games. It’s a pretty neutral statement from the president, all told – the emphasis is on discovering if there’s a link between the two, which at least is better than simply assuming there is such a link and calling for action with that in mind – but it’s not the most encouraging development all the same. More after the cut.
Straight from the news, we see this snippet:
“We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of the epidemic of violence,” said the President in an address to the nation Wednesday.
He spoke about ways to prevent shootings, including the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. There were reports that the shooter liked to play violent video games.
“Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds,” said President Obama.
I have to admit, I’m skeptical about the project. Not just about there being any link between gun violence and video games, but at the prospect of sociological and psychological research yielding much useful data on the subject whatsoever. I don’t doubt that researchers could study whether heart rates change during a Call of Duty session or find out how many criminals have played violent video games in their past. But when we’re talking about the effect of a very diverse culture and subculture on the wide range of human psyches, I think admitting some skepticism about what any research could be expected to reveal would be healthy. After all, it’s not as if these studies haven’t been done before, without managing to settle the question – or even advance the discussion all that much.
Still, it looks like we’ll get yet more research done, and at the least some interesting data – or interesting arguments and criticisms of methodology – may turn up after the fact.