Are Video Games Making us Violent

Popular M rated games such as these are under scrutiny by those who believe they cause violent behavior. Photo credit: Garrett Summerville.

After the recent slew of mass shootings that have happened across our country, Americans are looking for something to blame. While some are blaming the current gun laws, others have accused the media, specifically video games, for turning American teenagers into murderers.

One such American is Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Missouri), who has called for an additional 1% sales tax on all “violent” video games sold in her state. This form of taxation is known as a “sin tax,” which several states have imposed on products such as tobacco, alcohol, gambling and pornography. This proposition followed the president’s appeal to Congress to fund research on videogames.

A sin tax on video games would categorize them as dangers to society, and place a stigma on gamers across the globe. However, no study has conclusively proven that playing video games will lead to violent behavior against others.

Politicians aren’t the only ones who have used video games as a scapegoat. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called the video game industry a “callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people.” LaPierre would rather blame artists than even consider easy access to the product he sells as a problem.

These accusations are being made by individuals who do not know anything about videogames and gamers. Most gamers are not violent, aggressive and dangerous people.

It is true that there has been a correlation between videogames and school shooters, but this should not lead to a conclusion that correlation is the same as causation. Other correlations amongst school shooters are economic instability, abuse in the home and bullying by peers.

We should ask ourselves why so many Americans are quick to accuse art as a cause for violence instead of accusing desperation and abuse, which are universal correlations with violent actions.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out in a recent interview with FOX News that other countries where teenagers play violent videogames do not have the amount of gun related crimes as America. Videogames do not have a unique effect on Americans. The reasons for America’s increase in gun violence must be something else.

Richard Fowler (30) is a student at SC4 pursuing a major in engineering. He says that he has been playing games since he was 8, and they have not caused him to be violent. He believes violence “starts with the family.”

Zack Fisher (19) is another SC4 student who is studying game design. He does think some games cause aggressive behavior in gamers, but not the games usually accused. He thinks sports games, such as the Madden franchise, can cause aggressive behavior.

In these moments of panic and frustration, it’s easy to blame something we don’t entirely understand as the cause of our problems. No matter how seemingly obvious the answer may be, we must always look for the deeper, hidden causes, even if they are bad parenting and a failed education system which turns a blind eye to bullies until it’s too late.  

Garrett Summerville

Copy Editor

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