A Flawed Video Game Study To Be Released Next Week

A Flawed Video Game Study To Be Released Next Week


“Why so serious?” Okay, maybe my sense of humor is a little… off today, but I couldn’t resist using that image for this. Now that I got that out of my system. All jokes are now aside, so let’s get to something serial.

In the upcoming February issue of Pediatrics, there will be an article on a study from video gamer critic Douglas Gentile who seeks linking video game usage to mental health problems in children in Singapore. The report is the latest from a researcher who has a knack for back-handing video games based on claims that have been the subject of substantial criticism. Gentile has been specifically criticized for exaggerating the purported harmful effects of gaming.

It’s been reported that the study, which was authored by Gentile, contains some flaws. One example would be it’s definition of “pathological gaming” not being scientifically nor medically accepted and other scholars have criticized the type of measure used. Since effect sizes are mainly trivial, it leaves the possibility that the author is interpreting things as negative as possible.

“We commend credible, independent, and verifiable research about computer and video games. However, this research is just more of the same questionable findings by the same author in his campaign against video games,” said Richard Taylor, senior vice president for communications and industry affairs at the ESA, which represents computer and video game publishers. “There simply is no concrete evidence that computer and video games cause harm. In fact, a wide body of research has shown the many ways games are being used to improve our lives through education, health and business applications.”

But wait, there’s more, but you’ll need to click that “Read More” button over there.

Now, where was I? Oh, that’s right.

A mistake was publically acknowledged by Gentile in the methodology of a similiar study that was published by Psychological Science last year. Gentile acknowledged the error to ABC News in a blog posting after the publication. The error was that the sample group for the study wasn’t randomly chosen, claiming it was a “convenience” sample of individuals participating in the survey; a very significant factor that compromises that study’s findings.

A recent article in The New Yorker (“The Truth Wears Off,” December 13, 2010) made note that the scientific community is currently ‘engaged in some soul-searching’ about the validity of research findings.

“Throughout our nation’s history, those critical of new entertainment forms have sought to blame those creative works for society’s ills and some of have sought to use flawed research to support their theories,” said Taylor.

Definitely sounds like an interesting read. Again, you’ll need to check out next week’s Pediatrics issue for the full story, but at least now the seed is planted.