Polygon then and now (or later)

Ben Kuchera


“Video games, racism and violence: the problems behind the science ‘proving’ they’re linked” by Ben Kuchera, Mar 27, 2014


The study relies on the implicit association test, which isn’t the best predictor of real-world behavior, negative or positive.


There are so many variables the data becomes hard to take seriously when such strong claims are being made.

The study in question asked participants to play video games with a “pistol shaped” controller and then rewarded them for head shots. How many people play games that include a controller shaped like a gun? The game being played specifically trained the participants to aim a firearm and then rewarded their behavior for aiming for the head, and this is supposed to prove that all gamers will somehow model that behavior?

These sorts of leading questions leave science completely behind in order to scare the reader into action.

The data often shows that violent acts committed by children have decreased since video games have become more popular, which is rarely reported in the media.

Later, from the man who criticized association tests:

“Why are NPCs in games so often racist?” by Ben Kuchera, Feb 18, 2015

His examples are strong, and many, and it’s clear that in gaming representation is only one part of the issue. The rest of the problem in gaming comes down to agency: Are these characters shown as human? Are they shown as having some impact on the world in which they exist, or are they just placeholders there to serve some aspect of the hero’s journey?

The hero who is, of course, overwhelmingly male, white and straight.

MAFIA 3 AND THE RISE OF A BLACK ANTI-HERO By Colin Campbell  on Jun 14, 2016

“With few exceptions, games companies have been reluctant to portray African-American characters as anything other than villains, sidekicks or comic relief. “

I must point out that the writer is talking about a game with a black criminal as a protagonist. Just saying.

“Big budget American or European video games — usually created by teams dominated by white men — have rarely touched on the issue of race and prejudice.”


From the man who thought that a study linking violence to playing with a pistol-shaped controller in a head-shot-rewarding game was a bit silly:

Virtual reality can make guns ‘real,’ and that’s a bit terrifying  by Ben Kuchera on Apr 12, 2016

It feels a bit strange to use a scope in virtual reality when you have to actually hold the gun up to your eye, and requiring the use of two hands to “accurately” handle reloading and putting a round in the chamber is fascinating. The experience treats the firearm less like a prop in an action movie and more like an actual mechanical object.

Which is why I felt uncomfortable while playing.


The conversation about guns and violence in virtual reality is only beginning and it will likely continue for some time.


“Social Justice activism, for when the virtual is  more terrifying than the real.”

2 thoughts on “Polygon then and now (or later)

  1. Pingback: SocJus thesaurus: Problematic. – The Frisky Pagan

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