The problem with journalists’ interpretation of video game research (Lavigne, 2009)

I don’t often read the Escapist, but when I do, it’s very good writing. Chris Lavigne wrote a very good article on the problems with journalism and scientific reporting. It’s a good read, I agree so heartily with many of his points that it reminds why I started this blog.

One common theme through his paper is that journalists simplify for viewers to the point that vital information is lost where readers will eventually read scientific findings as if it were black and white. They mostly write it to the tune of the lowest common denominator, the perceived average middle-class person with no video game experience.

In my opinion, journalists seemed to be pressured, either by their editors, political ideology, prestige or for financial costs, to limit their words to the point of filtering out information. I once took a glance at a newspaper from 50 years ago and compared to today’s, those old newspaper looked like short novels! What happened today? Am I making sense or is this blog coherent? Sorry just going with the mind flow (it is a blog anyways)…

I am also pleased that Chris pointed the irony with video game journalists of trumpeting research that positive research uncritically (like his word choice) and trumpeting negative research in a different tune. It’s the same when you read the comments on these articles, go take a look at gamepolitics comment section. It’s always the same spiel, nothing constructive that I just stop commenting seriously.

I would also agree about journalists’ tendency of eating copypasta from a single source, quite often the university press or from each other. It happens a lot of time when reading news articles from my google alerts. So much for original journalism.

I got giddy when reading this paragraph and I was thinking that maybe they are going to mention a certain blogger.

So, when newspaper readers unfold a page and settle their eyes on a story about videogame research, they may not be getting the best information possible. They may be getting a regurgitated press release that’s missing the important caveats and limitations that are an essential part of any scientific report. They may be getting an imprecise account of the research that oversimplifies the complicated methods and results the researchers described. And they may not receive the proper context or expert opinion to properly evaluate the study’s importance.

The potential caveats with addressing this problem is that a scientific report might be too long, has too many jargon or it’s confusing. But for a blogger like me, I’m also limited in which study to cover as I do have a life, oftentimes I write on articles that are closely related to my interests or something that piques me and my posting rate is just horrible (2 original posts per month, not counting post that were mentioned by newspapers).

Perhaps it’s time for researchers to publish their studies in their own words or through a someone with too much time on their hands (i.e. newbie grad student). Speaking of researchers, I wonder how many media researchers knows about this blog, Andrew Przybylski know about this and perhaps by extension his advisor. Still going with mind flow which has dried up…


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