I wanted to share this article on Eric Cantor and his misinformation regarding a study on World of Warcraft and its affects on senior citizen’s cognitive function.

Even if Cantor was correct in stating that it costed 1.2 million dollars, do you think it is wasteful government spending? McGonigal basically thinks that video games can one day save the world and previous studies have shown that video games can help brain function, so should we keep spending money on such studies? Or is it a waste?



3 thoughts on “WoW”

  1. Considering the state of the economy at that point in time, I would have to agree with Cantor and conclude that it was poor timing to proceed with this study at the time. That’s not to say there wasn’t any conclusive evidence to suggest the study was indeed beneficial, but the timing to approve that type of spending was ill-advised.

  2. If you follow through and read the link, you’ll see that this research grant had nothing to do with World of Warcraft:

    “The money was awarded to North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech to study whether computer games can slow the mental decline in elderly people and, if so, to develop specific “brain games” to achieve that goal. The premise is that the memory, problem-solving and strategies needed to master some online games may be beneficial to seniors.”

    Personally I think “mental decline in elderly people” is a significant issue of concern for our nation and worth studying. I doubt many people would disagree with that. As to whether or not investigating the value of computer games to slow decline is a valid research project and more important if this particular research project was worth funding, well, you’d really have to be an expert in the field to the know the answer to that question. I can tell you that NSF grants are quite competitive.

    This issue came up earlier in relation to a different senator, Tom Coburn I think, and his list of unnecessary federal research grants. In that case, Nardi actually was involved in a small way with one of them. But there is really a larger concern here, which is the relationship between higher education and government, which is a deeply partisan issue. It’s somewhat outside of the scope of our course, but basically Republicans are opposed to the state support and/or regulation of higher education. Both Coburn and Cantor are Republicans, though Cantor just lost in a primary election in Virginia.

    None of us can speak to the merits of this study. We aren’t experts, and we don’t even have the actually proposal to read in the first place! However I do want to say the following about those research dollars. When UB professors get grants from the NSF, NIH, or anywhere else, that money mostly goes into the local economy. Most grants have two primary areas of expense. The first is “indirect costs,” which are basically the infrastructure costs for the university to house and administer the grant. These pay for everything from the janitors who clean the lab and the administrative assistants who do the paperwork to literally keeping the lights on. The second area is salaries for the various graduate assistants and postdocs who participate in the work. Of course their salaries go back into the local economy where they live.

    The total NSF budget is $7B, which is .2% of the federal budget or thereabouts.

  3. I don’t know enough politics to get into the political aspect of this post, but the question of wastefulness of studies is always interesting to me. I’m a dual major in psychology and most of the articles we read are laughable because they state the obvious such as “If people hear negative comments about themselves, their self esteem goes down.” Logically, that makes sense, but we can’t say that it makes sense as fact until we actually test it. So, in theory, you could probably argue that a lot of studies done are incredibly wasteful, but must be done. Studies like these, which ask questions that we don’t know or can logically deduce are far more interesting and almost inspiring in my opinion. Even though there is a current stigma against video games, if these funded studies yield results, then maybe McGonigal’s aspirations will come true.

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