Law makers are once again blaming a mass shooting on violent video games

Following two mass shootings at the weekend in the US, the folks in power are once again looking everywhere for a scapegoat.

As always, violent video games are front and centre in that search and even the US president has come out criticising the genre.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” said President Donald Trump in a statement which you can view in full below.

Following this, and many other statements, all touching on similar points to Trump, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) issued a statement. It’s a cracker.

“Blaming video games for violence in the real world is no more productive than blaming the news media for bringing violent crime into our homes night after night. Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between media content and real-life violence,” said the ESA wrote.

“Video games, including those with violent content, are popular in many countries with much lower violent crime rates than the US, suggesting that influences such as the background of the individual, the availability of guns, and other factors are more relevant to understanding the cause of any particular crime,” the association added.

That second point is the real meat and potatoes of the ESA’s argument, and indeed those who don’t simply take words at face value.

Violent video games are available in many countries which don’t have regular mass shootings.

The ESA also references a number of studies that looked at whether there was a link to violent video games and acts of violence in the real world.

One study conducted in 2014 concludes with this gem of an assessment.

“If video games are really the equivalent of flight simulators training people to kill… it is difficult to explain why homicide rates would go down after millions of these ‘murder simulators’ have been sold. When the media, politicians, or researchers link the murderous rampages of male adolescents with violent video games, they are conveying a classic illusory correlation… These individuals are ignoring that 90% of young males play video games… Finding that a young man who committed a violent crime also played a popular video game, such as Call of Duty, Halo, or Grand Theft Auto, is as pointless as pointing out that the criminal also wore socks. The rhetoric about violent video games does not match the data.”

The point of all of this is to highlight the fact that politicians are chasing a scapegoat because there is simply no, or very little data to support the argument that violent video games inspiring violence in real life.

Increased gun control in the US would surely inspire the ire of the National Rifle Association and considering how many politicians are on its pay-roll, we don’t foresee guns being a part of the debate around gun violence.

Video games however, well it appears to be open season for them. Perhaps the US should outlaw video games, if only to prove that being able to unload a clip of 1s and 0s into an enemy made of 1s and 0s isn’t what causes folks to turn those 1s and 0s into bullets and blood.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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