People try to blame the Florida high school shooting on violent video games and other forms of media

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by Christopher J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology, Stetson University via The Conversation

In the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Broward County, Florida high school, a familiar trope has reemerged: Often, when a young man is the shooter, people try to blame the tragedy on violent video games and other forms of media. Florida lawmaker Jared Moskowitz made the connection the day after the shooting, saying the gunman “was prepared to pick off students like it’s a video game.”

In January, after two students were killed and many others wounded by a 15-year-old shooter in Benton, Kentucky, the state’s governor criticized popular culture, telling reporters, “We can’t celebrate death in video games, celebrate death in TV shows, celebrate death in movies, celebrate death in musical lyrics and remove any sense of morality and sense of higher authority and then expect that things like this are not going to happen.”

But, speaking as a researcher who has studied violent video games for almost 15 years, I can state that there is no evidence to support these claims that violent media and real-world violence are connected. As far back as 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that research did not find a clear connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior. Criminologists who study mass shootings specifically refer to those sorts of connections as a “myth.” And in 2017, the Media Psychology and Technology division of the American Psychological Association released a statement I helped craft, suggesting reporters and policymakers cease linking mass shootings to violent media, given the lack of evidence for a link.

A history of a moral panic

So why are so many policymakers inclined to blame violent video games for violence? There are two main reasons.

The first is the psychological research community’s efforts to market itself as strictly scientific. This led to a replication crisis instead, with researchers often unable to repeat the results of their studies. Now, psychology researchers are reassessing their analyses of a wide range of issues — not just violent video games, but implicit racismpower poses and more.

The other part of the answer lies in the troubled history of violent video game research specifically. Beginning in the early 2000s, some scholars, anti-media advocates and professional groups like the APA began working to connect a methodologically messyand often contradictory set of results to public health concerns about violence. This echoed historical patterns of moral panic, such as 1950s concerns about comic booksand Tipper Gore’s efforts to blame pop and rock music in the 1980s for violence, sex and satanism.

Particularly in the early 2000s, dubious evidence regarding violent video games was uncritically promoted. But over the years, confidence among scholars that violent video games influence aggression or violence has crumbled.

Reviewing all the scholarly literature

My own research has examined the degree to which violent video games can — or can’t — predict youth aggression and violence. In a 2015 meta-analysis, I examined 101 studies on the subject and found that violent video games had little impact on kids’ aggression, mood, helping behavior or grades.

Two years later, I found evidence that scholarly journals’ editorial biases had distorted the scientific record on violent video games. Experimental studies that found effects were more likely to be published than studies that had found none. This was consistent with others’ findings. As the Supreme Court noted, any impacts due to video games are nearly impossible to distinguish from the effects of other media, like cartoons and movies.

Any claims that there is consistent evidence that violent video games encourage aggression are simply false.

Spikes in violent video games’ popularity are well-known to correlate with substantial declines in youth violence — not increases. These correlations are very strong, stronger than most seen in behavioral research. More recent research suggests that the releases of highly popular violent video games are associated with immediate declinesin violent crime, hinting that the releases may cause the drop-off.

The role of professional groups

With so little evidence, why are people like Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin still trying to blame violent video games for mass shootings by young men? Can groups like the National Rifle Association seriously blame imaginary guns for gun violence?

A key element of that problem is the willingness of professional guild organizations such as the APA to promote false beliefs about violent video games. (I’m a fellow of the APA.) These groups mainly exist to promote a profession among news media, the public and policymakers, influencing licensing and insurance laws. They also make it easier to get grants and newspaper headlines. Psychologists and psychology researchers like myself pay them yearly dues to increase the public profile of psychology. But there is a risk the general public may mistake promotional positions for objective science.

In 2005 the APA released its first policy statement linking violent video games to aggression. However, my recent analysis of internal APA documents with criminologist Allen Copenhaver found that the APA ignored inconsistencies and methodological problems in the research data.

The APA updated its statement in 2015, but that sparked controversy immediately: More than 230 scholars wrote to the group asking it to stop releasing policy statements altogether. I and others objected to perceived conflicts of interest and lack of transparency tainting the process.

It’s bad enough that these statements misrepresent the actual scholarly research and misinform the public. But it’s worse when those falsehoods give advocacy groups like the NRA cover to shift blame for violence onto nonissues like video games. The resulting misunderstandings delay efforts to address mental illness and other issues that are actually related to gun violence.

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by Ashish Isaac via GamingBolt

With each successive generation of gaming consoles, we’ve seen some major upgrades in terms of performance along with changes to the priorities of the gaming industry as a whole. With the PS4 and Xbox One, the industry seems to be focusing more and more on online services and on keeping consumers engaged to games for longer so as to increase recurrent revenue. Final Fantasy XV’s director Hajime Tabata has shared his thoughts on the subject in an interview published in the latest version of OXM and he believes that the next generation of consoles will move towards cloud based technology.

According to Tabata-san, the gaming industry will also follow the music and film industry in moving towards streaming services. In this way, people would pay subscription fees in order to access the games that they want. Of course, such a situation probably isn’t going to work everywhere since it would require strong internet speeds, but it’s still possible that such changes may come about with soon enough. Already, game developers and publishers are trying to focus more on online services, rather than just the base game.

We’ll have to wait and see when the next generation rolls around if such changes take place. What are your thoughts on Tabata-san’s prediction? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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by Timothy J. Seppala via Engadget

The next PlayStation 4 firmware update will make the PS4 Pro a lot more like the Xbox One X. No, I don’t mean the patch will malevolently shrink the breadth of Sony’s first-party games lineup next time the console is in sleep mode, either. Instead, software version 5.50 adds a supersampling mode to the PS4 Pro.

On the Xbox One X, that translates to higher frame-rates, improved visual clarity and more detailed graphics on select titles when the console is connected to a 1080p TV. Here’s how Sony describes the situation on PS4 Pro: “Certain games already have the ‘supersampling’ benefits as part of their ‘PS4 Pro Enhanced’ feature set, but this new mode can enhance the experience for those games that don’t already have the feature.”

Just hop into the system settings menu to activate it and you should be good to go.

There are a handful of other new features that every PlayStation owner will benefit from as well. Once the software goes live for everyone, you’ll finallybe able to change your PS4 wallpaper to an image from a USB stick, and do the same to customize a tournament or Team page.

A few changes are coming to music playback too. Music controls for Spotify, the media player and USB music player apps are coming to the quick menu. More than that, some PS Now games will let you listen to your own tunes while streaming a classic title from Sony’s servers.

There are a few other quality of life additions, like better organization for the game library and child play-time limits in the “Keiji” update, too. Xbox One added play limits last year with the Creators Update, and the One X hardware has been supersampling games since last November. Outside of a few games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, PS4 Pro owners without a 4K TV on the other hand, have been left in a lurch in terms of supersampling since the system was released in late 2016. Reset Era has a list of games that purportedly support supersampling.

It’s a little strange seeing Sony follow Microsoft’s lead considering how far behind the Xbox One is in sales, of course. But, maybe, that means we’ll see a PS4 Pro with an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive in it announced this year. We can hope, right?

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by Jon Russell via Techcrunch

Sony is getting a new CEO after it announced that CFO Kenichiro Yoshida will replace Kazuo Hirai as the head of the Japanese firm.

The move will happen April 1, with Hirai shifting to the role of Chairman.

“I have dedicated myself to transforming the company and enhancing its profitability, and am very proud that now, in the third and final year of our current mid-range corporate plan, we are expecting to exceed our financial targets,” Hirai said in a statement.

“As the company approaches a crucial juncture, when we will embark on a new mid-range plan, I consider this to be the ideal time to pass the baton of leadership to new management, for the future of Sony and also for myself to embark on a new chapter in my life,” he added.

Hirai took the CEO role in 2012 and he has worked in partnership with Yoshida to turn things around in recent years. Among its key initiatives, Sony downsized its loss-making mobile division with layoffs and a more focused set of products, while the PS4 has been a huge financial success. The firm also placed more focus on components, moved into AI, and Hirai personally oversaw the appointment of former Fox exec Tony Vinciquerra as Sony Pictures’ new CEO.

The company reveals its latest financial report today so we may get more information on its plans.

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First came the NES Classic, then the SNES Classic. And now it’s the turn of the Game Boy, which is now making a comeback in 2018

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by Ghost via Know Your Mobile

The Nintendo Game Boy is a classic product in the world of gaming. It first launched 28 years ago, but is now making a comeback and, best of all, your old games will still work on it.

Launched at CES 2018, the rebooted Game Boy features an aluminium chassis, not plastic, and it will retail for $75 once it is available later on inside 2018.

This isn’t a Nintendo re-release, though; no, this Game Boy was created by computing firm Hyperkin. The product was demoed at CES but is still undergoing work. The company refers to it as the Ultra Game Boy.

Hyperkin has made several significant changes to the design, however, introducing USB charging, a battery that lasts six hours, and a new, backlit LCD display which means you can play the device in the dark without needing a “snake light”.

The Ultra Game Boy will not come with games pre-installed; instead, users will have to use their old ones, if they still have them, or pick up second-hand titles via sites like eBay and Amazon.

Nintendo sold 119 million Game Boy units during its active duty, with the product being taken off the market in 2003. How Hyperkin got permission to do this remains to be seen… Nintendo is usually very protective of its brands, so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

In other Nintendo news, word on the street suggests the company is eyeing a re-release of its seminal N64, whereby the console will be redone and released with its original titles, just as Nintendo did with the NES Classic and SNES Classic.

Nintendo has even filed a trademark for the console, indicating it is now a case of when not if it happens.

As a HUGE N64 fan, this would be awesome for me and it is something I would definitely purchase. I spend most of my teenage years locked in three-hour long duals on Goldeneye with friends.

I want do to that again!

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by Daniel Howley via Yahoo!

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by Lulu Chang via Digital Trends

In what can only be described as a sign of the times, the World Health Organization has recognized a new kind of mental health condition. It’s a familiar ailment, though some of us may be slow to call it a medical condition. It’s called gaming disorder, and it’s characterized by “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior,” or more simply, an addiction to gaming.

In the beta draft of the WHO’s upcoming 11th update of International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), due out in 2018, gaming disorder is now included as an affliction. Folks who suffer from the disorder are said to have “impaired control over gaming,” which is to say an inability to control the frequency, intensity, duration, and context of their habits. WHO also notes that those who prioritize video games over “other life interests and daily activities” and continue to escalate the amount that they play “despite the occurrence of negative consequences” are also showing symptoms of the newly classified disorder.

“The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning,” the draft reads. “The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

The appearance of gaming disorder in the ICD-11 may have broader implications than we think. After all, it is this document that stipulates the international standard for what does and doesn’t quality as a health condition, which means that doctors could soon diagnose patients with gaming disorder, and insurance companies could extend coverage for treatment of the ailment (though it’s unclear how that would manifest itself).

That said, not all health organizations appear to agree with the WHO’s recent labeling. As Newsweek noted, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is created by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has yet to recognize gaming as an official condition. However, the guide does include internet gaming disorder as a potential problem to continue monitoring for future inclusion. So if you’re spending the holidays gaming away, you may want to take a look at just how much family time you’re deprioritizing in favor of those little avatars on your screen.

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