Dr. Anderson’s Research Considered in U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that restricting the sale or rental of mature-themed video games to minors violates the United States’ First Amendment right to free speech. While it is important to note that the American constitution is very different from the Australian constitution, as the U.S. offers protection for free speech,  it was interesting to see Dr. Craig Anderson’s research mentioned in the opinion which can be read on the Supreme Court’s website.

Dr. Craig Anderson’s research has been regularly pointed to by Australian alarmists lobbying against an R18+ classification for games as proving a link between violent video games and aggression. But the U.S. Supreme Court determined that his research is not compelling and pointed out that his studies, “have been rejected by every court to consider them.”

The opinion goes on to say that, in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson himself admitted that, “the ‘effect sizes’ of children’s exposure to violent video games are ‘about the same’ as that produced by their exposure to violence on television” – that the same effects found in his research can be found when children watch violent cartoons.

Dr. Craig Anderson’s research was also considered last year by Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department in a literature review on the impact of playing violent video games on aggression. The department’s conclusion at the time was that research into the effects of violet video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive.

An excerpt from Justice Scalia’s opinion can be found below. Justice Alito concurred with the judgement, as did the Chief Justice.  Justices Thomas and Breyer hold a dissenting view.

“The State’s evidence is not compelling.  California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning).  Instead, “[n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.” Video Software Dealers Assn. 556 F. 3d, at 964. They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and minuscule real-world effects, such as children’s feeling more aggressive or making louder noises in the few minutes after playing a violent game than after playing a nonviolent game”

“Even taking for granted Dr. Anderson’s conclusions that violent video games produce some effect on children’s feelings of aggression, those effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. In his testimony in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson admitted that the “effect sizes” of children’s exposure to violent video games are “about the same” as that produced by their exposure to violence on television.  App. 1263.  And he admits that the same effects have been found when children watch cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner,  id., at 1304, or when  they play video games like Sonic the Hedgehog that are rated “E” (appropriate for all ages), id., at 1270, or even when they “vie[w] a picture of a gun,” id., at 1315–1316.”


Grow up Australia on Kotaku!

Today Kotaku published a guest post from Grow up Australia Entitled “2010 a Ratings Odyssey.

Adult gamers have been calling for an R18 rating for a long time and since the public consultation earlier this year it is clearer than ever that Australia wants an R18+ rating for video games. The figures are enthusiastic to say the least. 98% of the near 60,000 submissions supported the introduction of an R18 rating. This reinforces what we already knew from research conducted by the iGEA. Their findings reported that 68% of Australians are gamers and that 91% of Australians agreed that the rating should be introduced….

To read the full post click here.

Next SCAG Meeting Draws Near

The R18+ games issue is set to be discussed at the upcoming Standing Committee of Attorneys-General  meeting on the 10th of December and Grow up Australia is gearing up again to raise awareness and dispel myths in the lead up to this important event.

We are very excited to announce that in the next couple of weeks we will be introducing some new additions to the Grow up Australia team and as such you can expect more frequent updates on our site, Twitter and Facebook page

The R18+ games issue was last discussed at the meeting in May where it was determined that more work was required before a decision could be made.

Censorship ministers have not yet made a decision on whether or not an R18+ classification for computer games should be introduced and have requested further analysis of community and expert views.

– Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor

Next SCAG Meeting [fergcorp_cdt]

No Decision But Lots Of Statistics

As expected the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has not yet made a decision on the introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games. They have instead released a report containing preliminary figures and information about the public consultation that closed at the end of February. The report is available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

The report shows that 98.2% of the submissions were in favour of the R18+ rating for games but Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor said that ministers had to also consider “the strength of the arguments on each side.”

Yes or No

Yes or No

‘Grow up Australia’ is mentioned often in the report and a pie chart indicates the number of submissions that were received via our website compared to other means. You can also see the clear success of EB Games in store petition.

Submission Method

Submission Method

The government has also released some of the submissions made by organisations including those made by the iGEA, ACL, EFA and ACCM.

Facebook Group

Update: The group has now been restored to its previous state — thanks Facebook!

This morning, administrators of Grow up Australia’s Facebook group received a warning when they logged on to the website.

Group Removal Warning Message - Facebook

The group “Grow up Australia – R18+ Rating for Computer games”, of nearly 37,000 members, has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use.

While an R18+ classification for computer games in Australia may be considered a controversial issue, we do not believe that any of the content provided by the Administrators of the group in question could be deemed to violate the Terms of Use. Very rarely, an inappropriate comment would be posted by one of the members, however our group administrators have always been vigilant in moderating the group and removing any inappropriate posts or content.

We have regularly encouraged our members to report posts they deem to be inappropriate to Facebook, in the hope that Facebook would help us in removing offending posts that we are unable to deal with in a timely manner. The report function on Facebook’s site has been very useful in this regard.

We agree that Facebook needs to take an active role in removing groups that violate their Terms of Use, however we feel that they may have incorrectly reviewed our group as violating said terms. Currently, we are attempting to contact Facebook in regards to the issue, in hope to restore the group to its previous state.

In the interim we have created a fan page for our members to join.

You may also follow us for updates on Twitter.

Much Ado About Nothing

In a radio interview on 2SER a Dr Christopher Ferguson has criticised the moral panic that is currently surrounding video games in Australia. (The interview can be listened to below.)

Last week Psychologist Dr Wayne Warburton was seen on Channel Ten claiming the link between video games and violent behavior is stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer. According to the news report psychologists are claiming an “explosion in youth crime is inextricably linked to violent video games and other media.”

Earlier the same week the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) posted a media release on their website with the heading “Gaming industry mirrors ‘big tobacco’ in denial of violent gaming effects.” The ACL media release quotes a paper titled: Video game effects confirmed, suspected and speculative: A review of the evidence. One of the contributors to that paper is Craig Anderson who has often been criticised by his peers (notably Ferguson) for his methods.

Dr Christopher Ferguson has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Central Florida and is the co-author of: Much Ado About Nothing: The Misestimation and Overinterpretation of Violent Vido Game Effects in Eastern and Western Nations: Comment on Anderson et al. (2010)

The Channel Ten news report can be viewed here.

Support for an R18+, Growing

Media Release

The Attorney-General’s Department is set to receive an influx of submissions from people who support the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games into the Australian classification system. The submissions were made via an online form provided by Grow up Australia, an independent group advocating the introduction of an adults only rating for games.

Grow up Australia will contribute 16,056 submissions from people who used their online form. The bulk of the submissions were collected during a partnership with EB Games during which Grow up Australia posters were displayed in all of EB Games’ 250+ Australian stores. A link to the online submission form was also provided via a banner on the EB Games website during the campaign.

Australia is the only developed nation without an adult rating for video games despite the average Australian gamer being 30 years old.[1] In December 2009, the Attorney-General’s Department released a discussion paper calling for community feedback on the issue.

Aaron John Percival, Gamer activist and one of the founders of Grow up Australia, said “support for the introduction of the R18+ rating has been overwhelming with ninety-nine percent of the submissions made through the website in favor of the change”.

The co-founder of the group, Jake Edwards, added that “with less than a week until the deadline for submissions, there is still opportunity for people who want to get involved to make a submission directly to the Attorney-General’s Department”.

To make a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department, log on to: http://www.ag.gov.au/gamesclassification

The submissions will be sent tomorrow so that they will be received before the deadline of the 28th of February 2010.

[1] Interactive Australia 2009, National Research prepared by Professor J. Brand, Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, 2008, <www.igea.net/category/industry-research>

Two Weeks Remaining

The Grow up Australia Online Discussion Paper Submission Form is no longer available. You can still make a submission directly to the Attorney-General’s Department. Submissions close 28th of February.

Thank you to all those who have participated and to
EB Games Australia for getting involved in this important issue.

Grow up Australia
Grow up Australia

EB Games + Grow up Australia

Grow up Australia!

Grow up Australia!

EB Games Australia has joined forces with Grow up Australia and thrown their support behind the introduction of an R18+ rating for video games.

Grow up Australia posters are prominently displayed in every EB store across Australia and a petition is available to sign. In addition to their in-store campaign EB are providing a link from their website to Grow up Australia’s online Submission form so that their customers can participate in the Governments Public Consultation: An R18+ Classification for Computer Games.

The online submission form will be available until the 14th of February.

Atkinson Committs to Repeal

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has committed to repeal unpopular amendments to the South Australia Electoral Act 1985. The amendments would have made it illegal for people to anonymously comment on the upcoming state election online.

The decision to repeal came after harsh criticism from online news sites, bloggers and everyday Internet users who posted comments about the issue.

Atkinson can be seen apologising in an online video.

The amendments that are to be repealed by Atkinson were highlighted in this post.