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ESA CEO Contests Recent Game Addiction Study

There used to be a time when video game studies weren't scrutinized; the concerned parents merely accepted them as irrefutable fact. Well, no more.

A recent study stated that 8.5% of children were addicted to video games, but ABC's Gary Langer was quick to attack the results and according to Gamasutra, ESA CEO Michael Gallagher is about ready to join the fray, too. The study, conducted by Dr. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University, said that "addicted gamers play 24 hours a week, twice as much as more casual players, and they show at least six symptoms of gambling addiction -- including lying about play habits, becoming irritable when not playing, and even stealing to support their habit." ...well, I don't know about anyone else, but after 25 years in gaming, I've yet to meet a single solitary soul who fits into this ridiculous description. Anyway, there are two major problems: 1. the "random sampling" of 1,178 American kids aged 8-18 wasn't random; they were invited to participate "via an opt-in online panel" that offered gifts in exchange for participation. 2. that 3% margin of error. Said Gallagher in a note to Psychological Science's Dr. Robert Kail:

"As you are likely aware, such a sample is not truly representative of a national population group. Thus the results cannot be projected onto the broader population of children in this country. And the sampling error of plus or minus 3% that Dr. Gentile cited in the study is also meaningless."

Gallagher wants Kail to include the fact that this study suffers from "methodological flaws" when it gets published, and that "it would be unfair and misleading for a respected publication to leave on the record such knowingly mistaken information." I've got an additional note: children aren't addicted to video games in this generation any more than they were addicted to Saturday morning cartoons, Fluffernutter sandwiches, and Kool-Aid in my generation. If you people can't stop trying to single out gaming as some sort of "especially dangerous" entertainment medium when it isn't a jot more "addictive" than tinkering with old cars or any other favorite hobby...then I'm just gonna lose it.

4/29/2009 Ben Dutka

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