Video games scapegoat for violence

Daniel Garcia

With the seemingly increasing prevalence of shootings committed by young people in the United States, many people look for an outlet to vent their frustrations, grief and confusion. Sadly, one of the most common scapegoats used by major media sources are violent video games.

Nearly anytime a national tragedy involving a young shooter occurs in this country, it seems video games are one of the first things blamed. This is a ridiculous notion that only helps to spread uninformed hatred.

One of the most common arguments used by opponents of video games is that, due to their interactive nature, violent video games increase aggressive thoughts in young people, and encourage them to act on violent impulses. This is, simply put, untrue. There has never been any reputable study that has shown any link between violent video games and violent behavior in youth.

In fact, as a study conducted by Dr. Christopher Ferguson and Dr. Cheryl Olson published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found, there was no link between increased violent behavior and violent video games. Actually, their findings showed that youths who played violent video games reported feeling more relaxed and calm after play sessions.

Even more so, if violent video games were as damaging to young minds as opponents maintain, then how is it possible that, as sales of video games increase, violent crime has fallen? Many statistics have shown that, since 1996, violent crime in the United States has actually decreased, while sales of violent video games have nearly doubled. One would think that, if violent video games caused so much violence in youth, that crime would have dramatically increased with game sales. The connection is simply not there.

There are many causes for violence among young people, but video games are not among them. It is worth noting that many of those responsible for violence such as school shootings were mentally ill and unstable individuals, with many psychiatric problems. An example would be Adam Lanza, the young man responsible for the Sandy Hook shootings last year, was deeply disturbed, and despite the accusations of opponents, there is little evidence to show that he was even interested in video games.

In truth, the primary form of entertainment for a large percentage of mass murderers is literature. When a national tragedy involving a young person committing a shooting occurs, the first form of media usually blamed are video games. Other violent media, such as film, books, and television, are not cited as the cause for violence on the same level as games.

Video games are used as an easy scapegoat for media and activists because it is something many of them are not familiar with. The average parent in this time did not grow up playing video games, and for a large amount of them, the subject is completely foreign.

As such, these people, desperate for something to latch onto as a cause for a tragedy that they cannot understand, blame something they do not understand. Groups that encourage the blaming of video games to distract from real issues, such as the NRA and the issue of gun responsibilities, do nothing to help.

A video game is a form of entertainment. It is not responsible for causing violence. A violent video game is no more responsible for real life violence than a violent film or book is.