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Iowa State University Responds To ESA Criticisms

29 Apr 2009  by   Paul Younger

The psychologist, Dr. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University, has responded to claims from the ESA rubbishing his recent report on pathological gaming.

Dr. Gentile’s most recent findings were slated when the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) president, Michael Gallagher, claimed the findings were “based on flawed methodology,” and that the report was “not truly representative of a national population group,” as the report was based on a “convenience” sample.

Speaking exclusively to IncGamers, Dr. Gentile said the response from the ESA was both inaccurate and unfounded.

“The ESA are trying to give the perception that there was something wrong with the study.”

A letter leaked from the Iowa State University addressed to the ESA also responds to the methods used for the study.

“The methodology is an industry standard approach, used by most of the national survey firms, and in this case is Harris Interactive’s methodology.

“Even Mr. Gallagher acknowledges that they are a ‘highly reputable polling firm.’ Therefore, it is unclear on what the claim of a flawed methodology is based. All of the numbers reported about the sample in the study are correct.”

When asked about the “convenience” sample, Dr. Gentile told us that it was a “trick the ESA is trying to get you to pick up on.

“Every survey is a volunteer survey, you have to agree to do it, so therefore it is a ‘convenience’ sample.”

Dr. Gentile also went on to say that the survey had studied around 1,200 people from every state in the country, giving a likely accurate national representation of gaming habits in the age group of 8-18 year olds in the US.

“We’re talking about pathological implications, we’re measuring it on how it damages people to function in a healthy way, and how they start to injure their family and social relationships, their school work or their occupational work, and when we measure it that way (the same we would measure pathological gambling), you can’t just have one of the symptoms, but rather more than half of the symptoms. There are 11 symptoms, and you have to report up to six of those symptoms.

“Eight and a half percent of the surveyed gamers, across the sample, reported up to six of those symptoms, which, in medical terms means that they are pathological gamers.”

When asked about the wording, and the use of “pathological gamer” as a term, Dr. Gentile simply said, “we use pathological because it’s the proper medical term.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual never uses the word addiction, even with drugs.  It uses drug tolerance and drug dependence, and with gambling it uses pathological gambling because addiction, historically, has never been a proper medical term.”

Dr. Gentile is has also commented that the error margin, the three percent which had been quoted “shouldn’t have been written, because it’s not exactly three percent,” and was an error on his part. 

The letter from Dr. Gentile was sent on 28 April, and we’ve contacted the ESA for their response.

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