Monday, May 19, 2008

Gaming Book withdrawn

The book "Computerspiel(er)versteher" (Understanding Game(r)s) that was prepared for the German Office for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) by professors from the Fachhochschule Köln (Cologne) has been withdrawn. The book was printed in 12.000 copies and intended for teachers and concerned parents.

The book includes a chapter by Winfred Kaminski, a professor at the FH Köln, that is a plagiarism of a number of Internet sources used without attribution, as reported by Heise, who quotes the current print edition of the weekly newsmagazine Spiegel. The BpB does not have a comment on its home page, the previously published links just do not work any more.

The plagiarism was discovered when the book was examined by experts during the course of different sort of academic dispute. The FH
Köln has received a good bit of funding from the gaming industry, specifically from Nintendo und Electronic Arts (EA). Both have donated 200.000 Euro
towards research and another 50.000 Euros for a conference that the university hosted. The department is under public fire because they
are saying that computer games are not really dangerous. The Kriminologischen Forschungsinstituts Niedersachsens (the Crime Research Institute of Lower Saxony) had determined that the book downplays the risks involved for gamers - and with the plagiarism found during this investigation was able to have the book withdrawn.

Kaminski has acknowledged that he used these sources and was perhaps not careful enough to make his sources clear.

There seems to be a (current?) tendency for people writing popular science books to do blatant copy & paste jobs without footnotes, which are felt to be detrimental to the reading experience.

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