The tragic back-to-back mass shootings in the United States has reignited the ongoing debate over the alleged correlation between video games and violent behavior. In remarks from the White House on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said: “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”
In the wake of the comment, social media was flooded with challenges to this claim, citing the international ubiquity of video game playing including plenty of countries without any mass shootings ranging from Japan to Australia. At the same time, the United States’ easy access to assault-style weapons without background checks is being cited in many of the same reactions as the core problem.
The Electronic Software Association – the organization that represents many game publishers and developers within the industry – has also issued a statement refuting these claims:
“As we shared at the White House video game meeting in March 2018, numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence. More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.
Video games positively contribute to society, from new medical therapies and advancements, educational tools, business innovation, and more. Video games help players connect with family and friends, relieve stress, and have fun. We encourage parents who have concerns about age-appropriate video game content to visit ParentalTools.org to learn more how to control what games are played in their homes.”
Media from games to comic books to music to horror films and hip-hop have all taken their turns as targets of the ire of lobby groups and politicians trying to blame them as the cause for senseless, violent, public acts of carnage. Entertainment media is an easy scapegoat as there is no powerful lobby group for it, unlike guns which has the National Rifle Association.
On Monday Trump also cited the need for better measures to identify people with mental illness and limit their access to weapons, but stopped short of citing specific measures like assault weapon bans and expanded background checks even though public support for such reform is reportedly there.