In 2012, a veritable cannon went off in videogame academia. The paper “Boom, Headshot!“: Effect of Video Game Play and Controller Type on Firing Aim and Accuracy was written by Brad Bushman and Jodi Whitaker at Ohio State University. The paper directly linked improved real-world firearm proficiency with playing violent games that rewarded accuracy like head shots in Resident Evil 4. Thanks to the paper, anti-videogame activists had their “smoking gun” that tied playing videogames to mass shooter murders. Notably, Anders Behring Breivik claimed he practiced killing using Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 before his 2011 rampage in Norway. Bushman went on to co-write a paper linking increased aggression in subjects with extended periods of violent videogame play, further pushing the narrative that games teach people to kill.
Since its publication, “Boom, Headshot!” has been the subject of numerous discussions, some of them calling into question the methodology used. Patrick Markey, author of Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong and Malte Elson, a behavioral psychologist at Ruhr University, questioned the results of “Boom, Headshot!” based on statistical inconsistencies. After years of investigation and debate, “Boom, Headshot!” is being retracted. Although Professor Bushman claims the retraction is a result of a smear campaign by his rivals, Ohio State University admitted that they could not back up the conclusions in the paper since the original data was missing.
You can all go back to shooting Junkrat in the face now.