TV report: video games 'normalize' killing

Time for another, perhaps sensationalized violent video game report from a local TV station. Omaha's KETV ran a story (which currently appears on the front page of CNN.com) on how video games "normalize" killing, according to doctors.

We had trouble finding studies from all the universities they cited and certainly none of them are recent publications (the above Indiana University brains scans come from a 2006 report), so why report on this now? Enter Dr. Greg Snyder, a psychologist at Omaha's Children's Hospital.

After citing three university studies that only go so far as to conclude games can desensitize children to violence, the report then inserts the following quote from Snyder: "The more normal it is, the more likely it is they're going to activate or engage in those behaviors when provoked or even unprovoked." Though we're not trying to discredit his opinion, the evidence presented in the report does not lean towards that conclusion (although, given the report's structure, that's what the reader is led to believe).

After contacting a doctor for one side of the argument, does KETV find an equally reputable contrasting viewpoint? No -- or at least, there's no indication that gaming researchers or industry officials such as the ESRB or ESA were reached for contact. Said the report, "the video game industry notes that the research also finds that teenagers have similar responses to violence in movies or TV" (no studies or quotes are cited). Instead, those that provide the counterpoint quotes include two teenagers playing Gears of War and a manager of general operations for Gamers in Omaha -- not two sources likely to be held in the same regard as a psychologist.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.