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Beware the ultra-violent Pac-Man [update 1]

Ross Miller

Aaron Stanton of has written a horrid piece trying to defame a poor woman. In July 2006, Dr. Kimberly Thompson testified before the U.S. House of Representatives against the ESRB rating system. Dr. Thompson had conducted a study in 2001 where she found ample amounts of violence in games rated E for Everybody. Stanton's harsh attacks highlight what he says is flawed research that is misinforming lawmakers of the United States of America.

Stanton (or "Mr. Muckraker") provides the following examples of inaccuracy from Thompson's findings:

  • Super Mario Bros. (41.3% violent)
  • Galaga / Galaxian (100% violent)
  • Pac-Man (61.7% violent)
The study was conducted by playing selected games over a 90 minute session and recording the time violence occurred on screen. For example, in a 90-minutes play session of Super Mario Bros., 37 minutes contained acts of violence such as Goomba asphyxiation, Koopa stripping (both theft and humiliation), and various acts of arson. That doesn't even begin to note the rampant pro-drug messages the game portrays.

So shame on you, Mr. Stanton, for attacking a poor, defenseless Harvard professor. It's people like Dr. Thompson that need to be telling our legislators how addicting and sinful the gaming industry can be.

And now, a public service announcement.

[update 1: In a correspondence with Dr. Thompson, we learned some more information regarding the issue. For example, her testimony was actually in July (not June) and the U.S. House of Representatives (not the Senate). We have clarified, and hopefully tomorrow have a full reaction post from Dr. Thompson.]

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