TAMIU Professors Weigh In on Supreme Court Debate
Posted: 11/04/2010

TAMIU Professors Weigh
in on Supreme Court Debate

Christopher Ferguson
Dr. Christopher Ferguson is an expert on the effects of video games on minors.

While the U.S. Supreme Court engaged in a spirited debate over an attempt by California to ban the sale or rental of “deviant video games” to minors, local video game expert  and Texas A&M International University associate professor Dr. Christopher Ferguson, stood firm in his research that violent video games do not harm minors.

Dr. Ferguson’s interest in the case is not merely academic curiosity. His connection to Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association is personal. The TAMIU professor’s name was mentioned by Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

“I helped organize an amicus brief—a report submitted to the Supreme Court—on the case. More than 80 scholars, myself included, filed the brief because we believe that California falsely represented the research which is unable to support a link between video game violence and any psychological or neurological harm to minors,” explained Ferguson.

Dr. John Kilburn, professor of sociology, Dr. Claudia E. San Miguel, director, criminal justice program, and Dr. Frances P. Bernat, chair, behavioral sciences, also signed the brief.

Ferguson stated that the research presented by the state mostly relied on a set of flawed research which included studies funded by anti-media “watchdog” groups. He said that the state ignored research that conflicted with their views.

“Our brief sought to inform the Supreme Court more honestly of the research available in relation to video games,” Ferguson said.

“It’s difficult to predict what the final verdict will be, but I remain cautiously optimistic that the California law will be overturned and hopefully, people will begin to see that the belief that video games cause harm fits in with past moral panics on media ranging from jazz music to comic books to Elvis Presley to Harry Potter,” he said.

A decision on the case will come before the end of the current term June 2011.

For more information, please contact Ferguson at 326.2636, e-mail cferguson@tamiu.edu or visit offices in Dr. F.M. Canseco Hall, room 302C.

University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu