Psychologist Discusses R18+ And Video Game Research

We've spoken to Christopher J. Ferguson before, for our Crusade In Search Of A Crisis feature on R18+, but now he's written an opinion piece for the ABC, in response to Barbara Biggins's rant earlier last week, and claims that he worries when "research on VVG is misrepresented to the public, whether by activists or politicians".

The best studies now coming out — those which take care to use well-validated clinical outcome measures and which carefully control for other important risk factors — provide no support for the belief that VVG contributes to youth violence. I’ve recently published a prospective study of youth violence which finds that mental health problems are the main predictor of negative outcomes, not VVG or television.

This is an important observation, for as many societies are becoming worked up about VVG, they are simultaneously slashing funding to education and mental health services for children.

There also seems to be little evidence that VVG causes a reduction in empathy or civic behaviour. In another recent study of mine I found that youth exposed to VVG actually engaged in more pro-social behaviours.

I'd thoroughly recommend reading the piece here, as an introduction to his work. But if you feel like investigating further some of his work can be found here. Ferguson also guest edited an issue of the Review of General Psychology Journal which focused specifically on video games, which makes for some great reading.


    Unfortunately, when it comes down to a decision we still seem to have the problem of generic moral/protect the children statement > factual, logical and reasonable consideration.


      Yep. If the decision was made on the basis of things like fact, logic and reason (or even - and god forbid this should ever happen in a democracy - public opinion) then it would have already been made years ago. Instead we get to wade through the quagmire (giggity!) of lies, deceit, misinformation and panic-mongering from the ACL and their ilk.

        Applause for an awesomely placed family guy pun! Lol.

        WHOOOOOOOOOO else but Quagmire!

        He's Quagmire, Quagmire... you never really know what he's gonna do next!


          He's Quagmire, Quagmire...

          Giggity giggity giggity giggity let's have sex!


      well obviously considering the main Proprietor of such belief is the church, and well i think we long ago realised that unlike everything else, belief>facts anyday of the week.

      And if facts contradict them they must cloud them in such a furore in a hope people forget

        It's like some kind of intelligent design on their part.

    I know that by saying this I'm just revealing myself to be the lazy bastard that I truly am, but couldn't you have included a link to his piece for the ABC?

        Yeah, thanks - I did already find it. I just resented having to manually navigate to the site then use the search function :P Like I said, I'm a lazy bastard :P

        But at least having the link here now will save other similarly lazy bastards from enduring the hell that I went through to read the article.

      Kotaku (both US and AU) needs to link back to more sources...

    It is pleasing to see the risk factors being controlled for in these studies. Nothing has annoyed me more than these studies that go in to abused, low socio economic lives and conclude it is just the interactions of these people with violent video games as one of the main reasons.

    it's just so exasperating that there are people that still won't pay ANY heed to this, whatsoever... Moralistic cowards and morons that hide behind a constant outcry of "but think of the children" supported by studies that don't exists, whilst ignoring those that do...

    This needs to be widespread more than that subjective crap.

    The article can be found here:

    Just put a cushion on your desk before you read the comments below, when you get to Barbara's your head might just slam down of its own accord.

    Read this yesterday, great piece.
    Too bad it will be lumped into "propaganda" by anti-R18+ and our buddies at the ACL.

    Could they get him to be at the next SCAG meeting?
    Might help with the outcome.

    Thanks for the links.
    Will read the when I've the time.

    All it does is further prove that the arguments of Anti-R18+ campaigners are faulty, flawed and based on nothing substantial.

    Reading through te comments, it's funny how it's often the most simplistic responses by an ACTUAL parent of gaming teens that really outlines the need for an R18+

    "Merlin 23 :

    06 Apr 2011 2:41:58pm

    Here's a fact. I have five boys of various ages who are constantly nagging me to M or MA15+ games. Even though the answer is always no, they focus on the 15 not the MA. Having played the games, I would rate them R18+.

    So here's a thought from a parent with sore ears and a sore throat. Please insert a rating of R18+. That way they know its off limit until they are an adult.

      As a parent, I agree completely!

      I'm sick and tired of saying "yes we can buy it" and then saying "NO YOU CANT PLAY IT!" and then find a game I would like to play but can't because its RC'd!

      As per Barbara’s orig posts

      As she wonderfully puts it "A central concern in this debate is the high level of violence available at MA15+ but this shows why we have it. We would not have had so many very violent games in the MA15+ category in the past years, if we’d kept the 1999 wording." and "Since the joint system from 2003, MA15+ films and games have been permitted to have violence with strong impact"...well congrats on the smart decision there to allow more violent games accessible to children. A wise decision, which definitely assists parents to "protect" children! I somehow think that your antiquated ideals have had its run and should step down as you clearly don’t have the interests for all Australians nor the children you claim to protect.

    YES! Just what we need more talk lmao wake me when its done

      Can you wake me, too? This is just getting beyond a joke. Shame on Australia... shame.

    I commented on Barbie's first post.

    Perhaps what should happen is everyone should pose as 15 year olds and write to politicians thanking them for not having an 18 rating and allowing games like GTA4 to be bought and played by 15 year olds. Say that in some countries they can't sleep with and then kill prostitutes until 18, and they're glad Australia has seen sense.

    Whilst I know this isn't the truth (the ratings board in Australia is actually good, just missing the 18 rating for no discernable reason) it may get one or two of them thinking.

    I am over it too, no more TALK, just ACTION... wake me when its done too but from now on I am buying overseas purely because the government, Christian Lobby Group and the idiots who have sat on the fence for so long have given me no choice even though i want to support the Australian Economy it’s ridiculous that the Attorney Generals have banded together to oppose what the people WANT! As for that idiot in SA, its a shame he is paid with tax payers money. We should have an approval rating for all Government Officials and their salaries are based on that scale. Never so more have I felt like abandoning religion, the Christian groups should have all their tax breaks TAKEN AWAY and not be allowed to discriminate. If a child doesn't fit their religious views they are asked to leave a school. If these schools are funded by taxpayers money they should NOT be allowed to choose what kind of child attends as it is funded by PUBLIC money. I think we should concentrate more on why these groups have any power whatsoever in Government. Nick Xenophon is a great Independent and the lobbying he has down against Scientology should be applied to ALL religions that discriminate. I am an Catholic Atheist purely because I believe my religion HAD core values that have been distorted by the Catholic Church acting as a Corporation. Religion is dying purely because of this control and greed, the amount of Irish people I know that have no respect for anybody in the church goes to show how disheartened and repulsed by their actions and clout, it is very obvious religion and politics doesn’t mix. A true democracy wouldn’t recognise religious groups when forming government policies unless they are unequivocally equal when dealing with the public. After all, why should taxpayers fund these groups if they discriminate against any of the general public? If these issues where properly addressed we wouldn’t even be in this mess. The Liberals will not deal with the 18+ issues and Labour is dealing with it in a half-baked manner. As much as I think the ratings needs an R18 we probably need to have these groups banned from influencing decisions that better serve ALL Australians. Until then, these issues won’t go away.

    You just know that someone in the Anti-R18 camp is gonna pull out craig anderson's study. That's like, the holy grail of their entire theory.

    That's the thing that annoys me with many science based debates. There's always one side who will refuse to listen to the actual science and will try to introduce their own uninformed opinions or worse, science that's incredibly sketchy.

    When a child succeeds, parents are prideful and take credit. When a child fails, parents point fingers somewhere else.

    Why are we evening still talking about this? We know we're in the right, Brendan O'Connor knows where in the right, the goddamn AGs know we're in the right, but they're pandering to conservative F-Wits who have no mental basis in reality. This is no longer a passionate debate and it hasn't been for a long, long time. This is a war of ideals. On the one hand we have us gamers and the public at large who believe in adult rights and recognise the true harm of not having an R rating - that of mislabeling adult content and the outright banning of slightly more intense games. On the other hand we have lobbyists like the ACL who's only interest is to exert their outdated views on everyone else because they can't fathom the idea that they're no longer in the majority.

    Its pointless to keep pushing these factual arguments because we all know it makes no difference. The ACL has presented NOTHING, NOT A HINT of evidence to support their position, and yet they're well ahead with the AGs. We on the other hand have been campaigning on this with perfectly logical and reasoned arugments for more than 2 years and are STILL no closer to the goal.

    The conservatives run this country. That is all. The best thing we can do is just keep circumventing the system, be it through importation or piracy - SHOW them that their almighty censorship system doesn't work.

    I live by myself, when I come home at night, i sit down and play games with 6-10 other people. Most of them I know in real life, and we engage in outside social actives as well. We often meet up have dinner, play sport together and so on. We chat on ventrilo it's a lot of fun. How is this anti-social.

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