No, it's not the videogames
by David Atkins
Life is full of funny coincidences: the very day I posted my review of progressive videogame Mass Effect on Sunday, than it appears that some lazy journalist reported the wrong identity of the Newtown killer, fingering his brother instead of the real killer. A slew of fools then searched the brother's facebook page looking for clues about the "killer", and found that he had "liked" Mass Effect on his facebook page.
That in turn led to a bevy of outcries blaming videogames and Mass Effect in particular for the killer's violent outburst, rather than his mother's survivalist ideology, the presence of multiple assault rifles in the house, and the killer's own mental instability. Even famed videogame expert Donald Trump even got into the action, tweeting yesterday that videogame violence was "creating monsters." Not to be outdone, David Axelrod tweeted against videogames as well.
But do videogames lead to increased violence? The answer is, predictably, no:
But it turns out that the data just doesn’t support this connection. Looking at the world’s 10 largest video game markets yields no evident, statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related killings.
It’s true that Americans spend billions of dollars on video games every year and that the United States has the highest firearm murder rate in the developed world. But other countries where video games are popular have much lower firearm-related murder rates. In fact, countries where video game consumption is highest tend to be some of the safest countries in the world, likely a product of the fact that developed or rich countries, where consumers can afford expensive games, have on average much less violent crime...
Again, with only 10 datapoints, it’s not a perfect comparison. But it’s hard to ignore that this data actually suggests a slight downward shift in violence as video game consumption increases...
So, what have we learned? That video game consumption, based on international data, does not seem to correlate at all with an increase in gun violence. That countries where video games are popular also tend to be some of the world’s safest (probably because these countries are stable and developed, not because they have video games). And we also have learned, once again, that America’s rate of firearm-related homicides is extremely high for the developed world.
Others who have looked closely into the issue agree:
Chris Ferguson, department chair of psychology and communication at Texas A&M International University, has conducted several studies on violence and its effects on youth. Ferguson, who called himself a proponent of gun control, stressed the importance of mental health treatment access and of parents monitoring what their children are exposed to. However, Ferguson said he firmly believes violent video games do not lead to violence in the real world.All some self-proclaimed liberals do by buying into the false lines about videogames and violence is deny themselves and their children some remarkable, engaging and deeply progressive stories and experiences, while perpetuating myths that take the focus off the deadly assault weapons and high-capacity magazines where it belongs.
“If we are serious about reducing these types of violence in our society, video game violence or other media violence issues are clearly the wrong direction to focus on,” Ferguson told ABC News. “Video game use is just not a common factor among mass homicide perpetrators. Some have been players, others have not been.”