As the period of public consultation on the issue of an R18+ rating for videogames concludes, a conservative group claims the games industry is engaging in tactics "reminiscent of tobacco companies" in denying "violent gaming effects."
The Australian Christian Lobby says games industry claims that the link between violent computer games and aggressive thoughts or behaviour is unproven is "reminiscent of the tactics of tobacco companies in questioning the link between smoking and lung cancer."
ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace argues that the games industry is ignoring research that demonstrates there is a link between violent video games and aggression.
The ACL cites a 2009 paper titled ‘Video game effects confirmed, suspected and speculative: A review of the evidence’, authored by Barlett, C.P., Anderson, C.A. & Swing, E.L., which states: “Multiple studies have found overwhelming evidence to suggest that exposure to violent video games is causally related to ... aggressive feelings, aggressive thoughts, and physiological arousal ... aggressive behaviour, and other variables.”
One of the authors of that paper ought to be familiar to Kotaku readers. C.A. Anderson is Professor Craig Anderson, the academic name-dropped by Michael Atkinson whenever he points towards research into violent games.
In replying to Michael Atkinson's public letter in December last year, Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, wrote that Anderson "is all they can draw upon in their arguments which, in themselves, are convoluted. Their dependence on this single source demonstrates there is not a widespread scientific support for their position."
Chris Prior, co-founder of Gamers 4 Croydon, agrees: "The single researcher cited by the ACL, Craig Anderson, has been called out specifically by his peers for making extensive use of a test that has no scientific grounding to 'prove' the harmfulness of violent media. His habit of ignoring bias in others' work that fits his prejudice has also been criticised.
"The argument about the impact of violent media has no founding in reality. Despite claims of extensive, reliable research and implied scientific consensus, neither exists.
"Much of the research claiming to find that consumption of violent media caused violence and aggression has been extensively criticised for ignoring results that do not fit with the prejudice, and even taking research that suggests one thing, and claiming it proves the opposite."
So, on one hand we have an argument supported by the majority of research on the topic. On the other, we have a group clinging to one lone voice who supports their case.
It's clear to see the ACL's tobacco industry is actually true. Thing is, they don't seem to realise who's who.