Depending on whom you’re listening to, it’s possible to think that things like “gaming addiction” and “gaming aggression” are incontrovertibly settled science. It’d also be possible to think that there’s so little research on gaming-related behavior out there that we should solicit and act on feedback from nonprofessionals. Neither is actually true!
Demonstrating the reality of gaming science as it stands right now is this interesting panel from this year’s PAX South, which brought together six academics and analysts in the field of gaming behavioral studies to discuss the current research, applications, and implications. The host of the panel was none other than Dr Rachel Kowert, whose work we have covered at great length at this point since she’s one of the academics in the field with the most digestible content for gamers and parents alike.
The panel covers a range of research on gaming, from positive to negative, including toxicity, violence, privacy, online friendships, addiction, anonymity, stalking, media sensationalism, science journalism, moral panics, mental health, bad faith publishing, sexism, autism, representation, and even how studios deploy tricks to keep you in games. It’s a wide discussion!
The high point of the panel comes when one of the scientists, in trying to make a point about the general public’s lack of science literacy, asks the audience how many of them have ever taken a statistics class. Of course, this is an audience full of gaming geeks who showed up at a science panel in Austin, so of course it was most of the audience, thereby ruining the joke. (I suspect our audience might be similarly inclined – I took two years myself!)
Set aside 47 minutes and watch the whole discussion below.