Video Game Paper Focusing On First-Person Shooter Games Has Been Retracted

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For years, several video gaming fans were arguing over a 2012 paper posted by Communication Research that noted some effects of first-person shooter video games could be linked to violence, stating that there were inaccuracies with the report. Now, it appears that that the group finally agrees.

Communication Research recently noted that the paper was retracted, noting, “A Committee of Initial Inquiry at Ohio State University recommended retracting this article after being alerted to irregularities in some variables of the data set by Drs. Markey and Elson in January 2015. Unfortunately, the values of the questioned vari- ables could not be confirmed because the original research records were unavailable. In 2016, Drs. Markey and Elson sent their report to Dr. Gibbs, one of the editors of Communication Research, who decided that a retraction was warranted. “

Retraction Watch recently posted more details on this action, citing that “the debate over the findings has spilled beyond this individual paper,” focusing on whether “first-person shooter video games can train players to become better marksmen.” The writer, Brad Bushman, had noted that video games and violent media could lead to further aggression and violence, though Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, argued otherwise. He suggests that violent video games don’t have that great a lasting effect, as noted in his forthcoming book Moral Combat: Why the War On Violent Video Games Was Wrong.

Though Bushman originally stated that the campaign was meant to smear the point of the paper, he eventually agreed with the retraction, though he didn’t quote on it personally. Instead, a spokesperson at OSU noted, “The Ohio State University was alerted to irregularities in some of the variables of the data set by Drs. Markey (Villanova U) and Elson (Ruhr U Bochum) in January 2015. The university and Dr. Bushman were unable to confirm the values of the questioned variables because the original research records had been taken from The Ohio State University. Therefore, in November 2015, Dr. Bushman and The Ohio State University recommended the retraction or correction of the article. In 2016, Drs. Markey (Villanova U) and Elson (Ruhr U Bochum) sent an inquiry regarding this matter to Dr. Gibbs, one of the editors of Communication Research, who decided that a retraction was warranted. A replication of the study by Dr. Bushman has been done and is under review.”

Malte Elson, a behavioral psychology postdoc at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, also added, “I am pleased to see the paper is finally retracted almost 3 years after the authors were first notified of the concerns (and 2 years after it was first reported to the Ohio State University). The public record has now been corrected, which is the only thing Patrick and I ever wanted after we found evidence of severe errors in the data on which the now retracted paper was based.”

It’s a shame that it took so long for the erroneous paper to be retracted, but it looks like it finally got done. Maybe next time, better research would play a greater part.

Robert Workman

Robert Workman has spent years working in the video game industry, for sites like Shacknews, AOL GameDaily and Marooners Rock. He's also very skilled in contributing to podcasts and video broadcasts, and can pretty much out-game you under the table. Oh, and just go ahead and ask him about glorious craft beers. Go on, ask him.


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