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Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong

Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong

Current price: $16.95
Publication Date: March 21st, 2017
BenBella Books
The MIT Press Bookstore
3 on hand, as of Apr 22 10:29am
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In family rooms across America, millions of children and teenagers are playing video games, such as Call of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto, roaming violent virtual worlds—with virtual guns in their hands.

In what sometimes seems like an increasingly violent world, it's only natural to worry about the effects of all this pixelated gore. But is that concern misplaced? Authors and psychologists Patrick M. Markey and Christopher J. Ferguson say it is.

The media and politicians have been sounding the alarm for years, and with every fresh tragedy involving a young perpetrator comes another flurry of articles about the dangers of violent media. The problem is this: Their fear isn't supported by the evidence. In fact, unlike the video game–trained murder machines depicted in the press, school shooters are actually less likely to be interested in violent games than their peers. In reality, most well-adjusted children and teenagers play violent video games, all without ever exhibiting violent behavior in real life. What's more, spikes in sales of violent games actually correspond to decreased rates of violent crime.

If that surprises you, you're not alone—the national dialogue on games and violence has been hopelessly biased. But that's beginning to change. Scholars are finding that not only are violent games not one of society's great evils, they may even be a force for good.

In Moral Combat, Markey and Ferguson explore how video games—even the bloodiest—can have a positive impact on everything from social skills to stress, and may even make us more morally sensitive. Tracing the rise of violent games from arcades to online deathmatches, they have spent years on the front lines of the video game debate and now offer a comprehensive overview of the scientific research on gaming. With humor, complete honesty, and extensive research, they separate the myth from the medium.

Moral Combat is an irreverent and informative guide to the worries—and wonders—of our violent virtual world.

About the Author

Dr. Patrick Markey is a Professor of Psychology, the Director of the Interpersonal Research Laboratory at Villanova University, and a former President of the Society for Interpersonal Theory and Research. Dr. Patrick Markey received his doctorate from the University of California (Riverside) in social and personality psychology, with a focus on behavioral statistics. Since receiving his degree he has published over sixty book chapters and journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, and he has made hundreds of presentations at universities and at national and international scientific conferences. Among his peers, he is widely recognized as an expert on how violent video games affect our behavior, and he is regarded for being able to present complex statistical and behavioral data to a general audience in a way that is both informative and entertaining. For years Dr. Markey has been involved in educating the general public and politicians about various psychological issues related to digital media. By giving talks at universities and elementary schools he has been able to help parents, teachers, and school administrators better understand the complex research examining violent video games. Moving beyond the classroom, Dr. Markey has been invited to testify before numerous governmental committees, and he has served on various governmental task forces examining the effects of violent video games.

Dr. Christopher Ferguson is  is a professor of psychology at Stetson University. Alongside this book, he has also written a mystery novel, Suicide Kings. Dr. Ferguson received his doctorate from the University of Central Florida in clinical psychology. Dr. Ferguson's clinical work has focused on forensic psychology, including work with inmates, as well as juvenile detention and Child Protective Services assessments. Since receiving his degree he has published over one hundred book chapters and journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, and he has presented his research at numerous universities and scientific conferences. Along with Dr. Markey, he is internationally recognized as an expert on the topic of violent video game effects. Dr. Ferguson was part of the talks given by Vice President Biden's task force on gun control following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, and he also participated in the Institute of Medicine's hearings on the role of media violence in gun violence in 2013.

Praise for Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong

"A remarkably smooth and fun read that blends anecdote and empirical data."

—American Journal of Play


"Moral Combat is more than a clever play on words or even a defense of an entire industry. It's an important reminder of the difference between fearmongering nonsense and proper research and reflection."

San Francisco Book Review

"A fact-filled, persuasive, and witty debunking of the cyclical moral panic about video games."
—Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature

"A groundbreaking and vitally important book. It gets under the hood of how games actually work on our brains, and in the process it tells us more than any number of sensational news articles. This should be required reading for anyone who loves games or who loves someone who loves games . . . which is to say, everyone."
—Greg Toppo, author of The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter

"As a filmmaker who's spent much of my career working on video game-related content, it's refreshing to finally see a book about games that gets it right."
—Jeremy Snead, founder of Mediajuice Studios and writer/director of Video Games: The Movie and Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed

"Even readers familiar with video game politics and history will find something to gasp about. And stressed parents may finally understand what their kids get out of those games, and how to manage them better."
—Cheryl K. Olson, ScD, coauthor of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do and principal investigator for a major government-funded study of video games and youth

"Gamers should buy this book for their parents, and parents should calm down teachers and pediatricians with a copy. Anyone interested in a great, skeptical takedown of bad science should get their own copy."
—James C. Coyne, professor emeritus of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania

"This book delivers healthy doses of skepticism and scientific insights that broaden our understanding of 21st century play. From political horse-trading to weak science, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in video games."
—Andrew Przybylski, PhD, experimental psychology department research fellow at the University of Oxford