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Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it

kat · 1 · 13392

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Offline kat

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Brilliant (in the ironic sense of being absolutely terrible, Ed.) example of confirmation bias in academia right now; "Acting like a Tough Guy: Violent-**** Video Games, Identification with Game Characters, Masculine Beliefs, & Empathy for Female Violence Victims".

To test our predictions [...] the type of video game played was entered as predictor, the identification with the game character as a moderator, masculine beliefs as the mediator, and empathy toward female violence victims as the outcome variable. We predicted that participants’ gender would moderate the effects of the identification with the game character on the relationship between the type of video game and masculinity beliefs. (see Fig 1). Participant age, video game violence rating, and frequency of video game play were also included as covariates.

Summary using a couple of notorious games to prove a prediction, essentially that males are un-empathetic psychopaths.

For male participants, simple slope analyses showed a significant positive relationship between identification with the game character and masculine beliefs for males who played with a violent-**** game [...] For female participants, there was no significant relationship between identification with the game character and masculine beliefs in any of the three video game conditions.

It's important to emphasise their methodology here; essentially they were testing the prediction that male gamers respond positively (there was an uptick in cognitive association, not that they then went out and did something objectively bad) to reinforcing media (stimuli), essentially a given, especially when tested immediately after playing. Where the study fails catastrophically and enters the realms of confirmation bias is in the following;

1) did not test against MALE victims.
2) did not test FEMALE perpetration against MALE victims (FEMALE protagonist against MALE victim).

In other words, without male/female, protagonist/victim counter-balancing, the conclusion is predetermined and weighted towards a positive outcome in support of the premise being tested - "Men bad. Woman good. Ug"

To properly get to the bottom of this (non)issue tests and studies need to be conducted and assessed against games where male and female victims and protagonists can be swapped interchangeably without there being any other discernible difference to the way the underlying mechanics behave[1]. In using games like GTA5, which makes a point of playing with the idea of 'machismo', using it as a central plot device - the main character operates in a criminal world, they enter the project already biased and predisposed towards a given conclusion.

They literally might as well just say "games cause sexism because: GTA 5" and be done with it.

Absolutely appalling 'research'.

[1] There are broader issues testing these kinds of gender related theories on violence due to societal predispositions towards the disposability of male victims - most crime related perpetrators, victims, injuries and deaths are male but perpetration is the only societal focus (predominates the news cycle). What this well known but rarely acknowledged fact - male disposability, might mean within the context of games as a medium of social study, is perhaps that female gamers, playing female characters, committing violence against females NPC's, victims or other players, find it immediately incongruous, it does not fit their predefined and already established notion of the world as it is, subsequently biasing the response. To truly get to the bottom of whatever is being asked with these studies, not only would they need to be a complete role reversal, but in doing so the genuine implicit bias towards male disposability must be accounted for just as readily as it is not for male on female violence.