No, the Government is Not Paying $1 Million for People to Play Video Games

Did you know the government is spending $1.2 million to pay people to play World of Warcraft? I didn't either!

Maybe that's because it ain't true, but truth is a relative thing when you're one of the assclowns leading an intellectually bankrupt legislature that can't go two months without a self-inflicted hostage crisis. That describes handsome dough-head Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia and the House Majority leader, who thought it'd be a catchy talking point to spread some bullshit that there's $1.2 million in wasted federal grant money going to shiftless MMO players. Never mind that $1.2 million isn't piss in the ocean to our $16 trillion deficit, whether or not it poses any immediate threat to the economy. What Cantor is saying is bullshit.

Eight of his GOP colleagues retweeted that, making Warcraft into as much of a buzzword as anything can be in the age of Twitter. So FactCheck.org embarked upon its titular mission and, surprise, found Cantor is just making shit up.

Here's where I really get pissed. The government never paid $1.2 million for anyone to play World of Warcraft. The study in question cost $5,000 and that was funded entirely by my alma mater, North Carolina State University, whose Gains Through Gaming Lab we've written about before. In fact, we wrote about this same project, and others at the lab.

FactCheck spoke to the Lab's Anne McLaughlin, who said Cantor's claim is "entirely inaccurate." The lab's study of how MMOs improved cognitive functioning in senior citizens was not at all funded by the National Science Foundation. It's true, however, that the Warcraft research became the precursor to what is a $1.2 million grant from the NSF, which funds a larger series of studies about cognition, and it part uses the Wii game Boom Blox. Warcraft has nothing to do with it.

Of the $1.2 million in funding, only a small fraction goes toward compensating study participants, who take four three-hour cognition tests spread out over a year, and play Boom Blox for a total of 15 hours over two weeks.

"The facts simply get in the way of this Republican talking point," says FactCheck.org. "Paying people $1.2 million to play video games sounds a lot more outrageous than studying ways to improve the cognitive abilities of seniors. And it misleadingly twists what the grants are all about."

Paying People to Play Video Games [FactCheck.org]