Consulting, Research and Speaking on Health and Media Issues

Questioning assumptions

iStock_boy-ltblue-shirt-300x200When I work with researchers or clinicians on media training and strategy, one thing I warn them about is false or misleading premises. Here is an example.

I just did an interview on CNN’s Headline News, where the focus was a story that’s kicked around for several years: a 2006 video game sold in Japan, called RapeLay, that allows players to grope (with a disembodied hand) and attack cartoon females. (No genitals are shown.) It goes without saying that this is a disgusting concept. The game was never sold in this country…but the idea of it has struck a chord with pundits convinced that video games are debasing our youth. Over the past few years, stories mentioning “rape games” have popped up repeatedly in U.S. news media. Parents may be reassured to know that – in contrast to R-rated movies – there are very few electronic games with nudity or sexual content. All of them can be found on the ESRB website by searching for AO-rated games.

My goal during the Headline News interview was to move away from the “ain’t it awful!” premise, and provide parents with context and specific, useful information.

There’s a link to the interview on GamePolitics.

Also see my article on how the media sometimes bungles research findings: Through the Looking Glass: What Happens When Media Coverage Distorts Science?