And so it comes to pass. Today, The Daily Mail takes a very special spot on CVG's W.R.O.N.G hall of shame; one which commands awe and disbelief in equal measure.
You may have seen our report earlier concerning a new psychological study, in which boffins (love that word) from Huddersfield University struggled to find a link between violent video games and aggression in players.
The research discovered that far from being 'pumped-up' whilst playing a violent multiplayer game (Gears Of War 2), 40 test subjects were left physically unflustered - inclusive of heart rate, brain activity and respiration. This was thought to be because the participants could easily decipher that Gears Of War bore no similarity to their everyday experiences.
The lack of aggression caused by the violent game was epitomised by the fact that the subjects actually became more frustrated and physically affected when playing a football title (PES) - for precisely the opposite reasons. The research concluded that players could relate sports to everyday real experiences, and so were more liable to become emotionally involved in proceedings.
If you can't be bothered to re-scan the whole article, here's the takeaway quote from Dr Simon Goodson, who headed up the study: "These findings suggest it cannot be automatically assumed that violent content leads directly to aggression, and that further research should attempted to uncover the aspects of video games which can lead to an aggressive response."
Fairly conclusive, yes? Not really two ways of looking at that, right?
Or, more accurately, R.O.N.G. The Daily Mail's razor-sharp take on events certainly evidenced the Ridiculous Opinions Of Non-Gamers - but there was very little 'Witless' about it. It was far too idiosyncratically sneaky for that.
This was a master of its craft in full flow. The Daily Mail in all its 'read between the lines' glory. In a way, we're slightly journalistically jealous at both the surreptitious wordplay on show and the sheer gumption of the article.
It's kind of something to marvel at: A wink here, a nudge there... Middle England fnar-fnars into its All-Bran. Then stares petrified at its offspring.
Here, we take a special W.R.O.N.G look at the Mail's version of events piece-by-piece - and analyse exactly what's gone on.
But we can't do this alone. You'll start taking the rise out of our excitable reportage for one thing. Yeah, yeah, we're not exactly Woodward and Bernstein, etc. etc....
No, for this mission, we need a very special guest commentator. Whose that now? Dr. Simon Goodson, the man who penned the report in the first place? Oh, go on then.
We just got off the blower with him. Had a nice chat all about his research and the Mail's coverage. He's a cool cat. Be welcoming.
First up, that headline:
Playing football games on computers 'makes you more aggressive'
CVG says: And we're off. The Mail has seemingly twisted a quote of Goodson's, originally intended to highlight his team's surprise conclusion - that, far from inspiring fury, violent video games can't even muster the kind of aggression brought on by a bit of FIFA. ("The player can identify with a real-life experience [like sport] and call up those emotions and aggression more easily than in a situation they would not have encountered.")
An unsurprising spin? Maybe. Except Goodson never suggests these games will make you more aggressive - just that they could do so more easily than "killing" in a game.
Dr. Goodson says: "They've put an angle on it where it says that sports games make people more aggressive. But the football game was more of a 'realistic stresser'; something that makes you stressed or emotional in real life that's mimicked in a video game. They've missed out a key phrase in that headline: '... than playing a violent video game'. If you put that in, it gives you some much-needed perspective."
Thank you, doctor. But spinning headlines ain't nothing new. Let's check in on the Mail's captions instead, which really bring the piece to life:
(Under a photo of MW2's box): 'Trigger: Tristan van der Vils who shot six people dead in the Netherlands last month had been playing Call Of Duty: A Modern Warfare 2.'
(Under a photo of a carjacker): 'Outbursts: Computer games have been linked to increases in violence and crime'
CVG: The very mention of van der Vils in the article is shudder-worthy. (The Mail fails to mention that he had previously been detained in a Dutch psychiatric institution.) But it's the word 'Trigger' that's our favourite aspect here. As in gun. But also as in sudden, inspirational influence. See what we mean? Not Witless. Crafty.
Of course, Dr. Goodson's team discovered the complete opposite. It's there, in that quote, right at the end of the article... What do you mean most people don't read to the end of the article?
Dr Goodson says: "Some reporters and psychologists try to infer gaming has a direct effect on the violent behaviour of a handful of people. Let's use the example of Peter Sutcliffe to show how such a simple behavioural link doesn't really work. He reportedly looked at a gravestone in Bradford, and that was cited as inspiration to turn him into a serial killer. So on that logic, should we all shield our eyes from gravestones?
"There are 200-plus million people playing games in the world - that's a conservative estimate. Perhaps six people this year will do something terrible who also play video games. The honest truth is that, like Pete Sutcliffe, there'll be something wrong with them before we even start looking at outside influences like games. There's no maths in the world that I know that will convert six into 200 million and come out with anything significant. So you have to look at the psychological research - and basically, we think our findings lay the argument to bed that violent video games make people aggressive."
Hallelujah, brother. Onto the Mail's first two paragraphs:
Computer games about football make players more aggressive than violent ones, psychologists claim.
CVG says: Hmmm. It's our contention that people playing violent video games and simply not having an aggressive response is perhaps the bigger story - but each to their own (agenda).
While participants remain 'numb' when they see someone being 'killed' on screen, apparently harmless games that mirror real life can have a far greater effect.
CVG says: What a pretty little implication this is. "Numb." i.e. "Desensitised". i.e. "Unmoved by violence". i.e. "DANGER..."
If - and we're not for one minute saying this is true - but if the Mail's wish here was to insinuate that a non-aggressive response to Gears Of War 2 shows the creepy nature of gaming's erosion of our moral barometer, it doesn't fit. The participants were randomly selected. 40 men and women. Many of whom, no doubt, did not consider themselves 'gamers'. Unless Epic's title can instantly dampen our ability to feel!
We know now why you cry.
Dr. Goodson says: "We got the subjects to play Gears Of war 2 in a multiplayer Deathmatch for ten minutes, so when they died they regenerated. They all played it quite quietly. When they were playing the football game, however, we wanted to tell people to shut up and stop moving. They were calling each other all the names under the sun, they were swearing at the referee, just like they do in real life.
"But it's not right to say that the ones playing Gears Of War 2 were 'numb' at all - they weren't desensitised. It's not correct to think that. They were just playing the game. It's not the same when you play Pro Evo as when you play Gears Of War."
Don't you just want to shake this guy's hand?
Grand news, then: you'll be able to embrace him tomorrow, digitally, when we offer Dr. Goodson's full insight into the research his team have conducted, what it means for video games - and his opinion of how violent video games have been treated by the media and psychology academics up until now.
(Make sure you check out the Mail article in full beforehand - just to keep things fair and balanced.)
Until then, we'll leave you with a final, extensive quote from the man himself who, incidentally, was presenting at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Glasgow just moments ago. This one's especially for you, Ms. Diamond:
"I hope the gaming community realises that this research is important. We're just trying to present what's actually [accurate] and give some clarity past these studies in America that have such a touch of bias.
"One of the studies was done in 2009 - Bushman & Anderson 'Comfortably Numb'. They used Doom on a test subject, which was obviously a game released in the mid-1990s. They got someone to play in it a lab, and they staged a fight outside. They concluded that because the participant didn't go and break the fight up while playing the game, violent video games therefore reduce social helping behaviour. I mean, seriously. The media will actually believe that - that's what you're up against.
"Our research was conducted with cutting edge equipment that is used to treat people in hospital with epilepsy and brain problems. When we're not finding anything at all [in terms of brain activity during playtime of violent games], that to me says this is a big deal.
"We're not funded by anybody. We've got our money from the university where we work. We haven't got an agenda. We set out with an exploratory hypotheses: What happens when people play violent video games vs racing games and sports games? We've got no axe to grind. We're not being funded by Microsoft or anybody like that. We just want the truth.
"Interestingly, we did an aggression test on all participants after the research, and they actually scored below what you'd expect normal people to get. They were between 70-75 on our scale, which is normal. An aggressive person would be above 80 or 85. I wouldn't say there is any concern that video games are causing people to be aggressive after they play them."
Worth reading one more time? Go on then.
"I wouldn't say there is any concern that video games are causing people to be aggressive after they play them."