Violent video games do not make people violent

Ryan Bartholomew, spotlight editor

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Violent video games have recently come under fire for promoting malicious or violent action, with the main idea being shootings. The mainstream media loves to push this idea of the two being linked when they really are not.

The biggest claim people make is that violent video games cause these sorts of mass shootings and other things. This is widely accepted by the population because historically, people are more likely to go along with something they hear from a public figure or celebrity.

According to a paper published in Royal Society Open Science written by Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, this connection does not exist. The paper details a survey of over 1,000 14 to 15-year-olds of both genders and found no connection between video games and violent action.

This is further supported by an article published by the American Psychological Association, finding no solid connection between the two. The article did, however, state a link between violent games and less prosocial behavior.

As far back as 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior does not exist, based purely on research having been conducted over the span of multiple years.

Findings such as this are something that major political figures and celebrities either do not know of or simply ignore the evidence for. People like that are the reason why violent video games come under fire so often in the wake of a tragic event like a mass shooting or a bombing.

Armed with little and often unconvincing or even made up evidence, politicians have blamed violence on video games for years, probably decades would be more accurate now. Their rhetoric turned up to an all-time high in the 1990s after games like Wolfenstein 3D and the original DOOM popularized the genre of violent first-person shooting games.

Since then, video games have been blamed for shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 all the way up to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, anything in between, and it can be assumed that the trend will continue in that direction.

An article by the New York Times has a quote from Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University, that seems fairly concrete.

“The data on bananas causing suicide is about as conclusive,” said Ferguson.

According to him, the numbers really do work out about the same.

It was mentioned earlier a link between games like DOOM and whatnot being linked to a decrease in prosocial behavior, which makes sense. Most people, when thinking about or picturing a gamer, tend to picture overweight people, usually male, or those who are super secluded and shut off from the world.

Justifying a stereotype is not what this article seeks to do, but all stereotypes were at one point based on some level of truth. It would not have started had it not been a very common appearance for gamers, be it a reflection of the truth or simply a media portrayal.

The issue of antisocial behavior is another beast altogether, and something that I, as an avid player of these games, would want to see addressed a bit more, since there is concrete evidence to support it.

However, the claim that violent or lethal action is the result of video games is not supported by the sheer amount of evidence opposing it.