Why violent video games ARE NOT to blame

In the wake of all the horrible shootings that have taken place across America in the recent months, a lot of people are looking for a scapegoat to blame for these horrible events and violent video games are getting a lot of the blame.

While I understand people’s wants and needs to place the blame on something, violent video games isn’t it. Just think about how many people play violent video games on a daily basis. If there was a link between violent video games and real world violence, wouldn’t there be more violence and shootings happening?

Violent Crime Offenses and Video Game 

Sales, 1996-2007

Source: Entertainment Software Association, “Essential Facts
About Games and Violence,” http://www.theesa.com, 2008

There are numerous statistics and graphs that show that the sales of video games has no influence on violent crimes committed.  Unfortunately if you look at polls that are conducted asking if violent video games are to blame, majority of people think that’s the case.

I can speak on the behalf of people who play violent video games because I’m one of those people, and all of my friends are those people. None of my friends have ever shown signs of excessive violence because of the games they play and I certainly have never wanted to shoot up a school or do anything violent of that nature.

While people will be quick to “pull the trigger” on the idea that violent video games are partly to blame for all these horrific shootings, one needs to stop and realize that American society is a violent society in general.  Look at all the movies, TV shows, comics and even books that have violence in them.  A perfect example is the popular book series turn Hollywood movie, The Hunger Games.  The basis of the entire book is about a group of young children going into an arena and killing one another until there is only one survivor.  How come this book isn’t being blamed for the risk of gun violence when it is just as violent in its ideas as the “M” rated video games millions of people play everyday?

Halo 2

Parenting is also a big factor when it comes to young kids and violent video games.  Now I’m sure people are going to be all up in arms about this but parents need to be more responsible with their children and their games.  Some kids simply can not handle the violence and take it to seriously but parents let them play these games anyways, sometimes not even looking at the games rating or finding out what the game is about before they buy it for their kid.  It also isn’t helpful that kids today are allowed to stay inside for hours on end and just play video games.  When I was younger my parents got me involved in sports and when it was nice out they FORCED me outside away from video games and that’s what more parents should be doing to their kids.

In 2010, the Entertainment Software Association released several statistics showing no link between violent video games and real world violence.  Three really interesting points to think about are:

  1. “Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s.  During the same period of time, video games have steadily increased in popularity and use, exactly the opposite of what one would expect if there were a causal link.”
  2. “Many games with violent content sold in the U.S. — and some with far more violence — are also sold in foreign markets.  However, the level of violent crime in these foreign markets is considerably lower than that in the U.S., 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.”
  3. “Numerous authorities, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and several U.S. District Courts have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between violent programming and violent behavior.”

Fact number two from above was something that I had never thought of and I’m sure not many people think about it either.  Video games are a world-wide industry, with kids from all over the world playing these violent games, yet those other countries have lower rates of violent crimes being committed.

Essentially it all comes down to parenting and each individual child.  Everyone is different and to say that something like violent video games is the cause of all these shootings is silly, especially when you think about the millions of people (not just kids) that play these games all over the entire world on a daily basis.

People can continue to try to use violent video games as their own scapegoat to why these violent crimes continue to happen but the reality is there is no link between the two and whether there are violent games or not, terrible incidents like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and the Colorado Batman shootings will continue to unfortunately occur.

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