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Grand Theft Childhood Author Pokes Holes in SCOTUS Research

| 1 Nov 2010 22:00
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Rush Limbaugh isn't the only person to defend videogames lately; the author of Grand Theft Childhood is on our side, too.

There's a lot to dislike about California's argument in the upcoming Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court case. The majority of the frustration stems from the fact that, to many people on the side of the videogame industry, there is some supremely flawed logic with the state's position that games do not deserve the same protection of free speech that other forms of media enjoy. According to one expert, though, the research that is being used to support this logic is faulty, too.

Cheryl K. Olson (Sc.D., Asst. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School), author of Grand Theft Childhood has written a thoughtful, intelligent, and rather devastating argument against California's side of the case, especially with the claimed research that's being used to support the argument that games are turning kids into violent offenders:

There's no evidence that any video games have contributed to or triggered any real-world crime or serious violence. Juvenile arrests continue to decline. Given the widespread use of video games among youth, include "Mature" rated games, we would expect to see some increase in crime statistics if such games were broadly harmful. What we need, and don't yet have, are studies on subpopulations who are already at higher risk for violence. These include juvenile offenders, children exposed to real-world violence, children with antisocial peers, children who play video games in groups with aggressive or antisocial peers, and children who lack protective factors such as caring, supportive adults and access to prosocial activities.

Olson's article is long, but is worth the effort to read. Her other major point is just how problematic things will become if the Supreme Court ends up overturning the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision:

Earlier, I mentioned my concern that this law could do more harm to our children than good. Here's a potential scenario. Although no provision is made for how games will make the do-not-sell list, most likely a committee will form to review and judge. Even if only games rated M by the ESRB are reviewed, that would require 100+ games per year to be scoured for objectionable content and assessed for artistic merit. Do you remember the 'Hot Coffee' scandal, where crude cartoon sex was unearthed (with the aid of downloaded computer code) in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Publicity about the need to protect children from this content alerted thousands of them to its existence.

You can read the entire article over at Industry Gamers, which was kind enough to post a PDF version for users to download.

Source: Industry Gamers

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