At times the worst songs have memorable refrains — but only because you are still able to hum the tune 20 decades later doesn’t mean it’s time to get a modern cover. The purported connections between video game playing and real-life violent acts makes for a favorite tune. It always does exactly the embarrassing job of distracting people from the real debate, and offers a handy target for channeling the very real despair, frustration, and anger that arises. The only issue? It is all false.
The problem of gun violence, especially as it impacts our children, is painful and dreadful to contemplate. But setting up the straw man of violent video games to take the fall is exactly the same reckless and manipulative politicking that we’ve seen for years, targeting at different times everything from comics to music to movies. The exasperated answer we players must adopt almost feels cliché, and yet recent times have found defenders of the gambling medium having to state the clear conclusion. Games are not the problem, and making the case that they’re distracts from the real issues.
In the wake of some other collection of horrible mass shootings, it’s natural to urgently search for answers. A Reuters/Ipsos poll from early 2019 discovered that 69 percent of Americans”want strong or moderate restrictions placed on guns.” Those are tough numbers to face if you are a politician who benefits from money related to the gun industry, or even a lobbyist who does exactly the same.
I would gladly give up my favorite hobby, and also my profession, even if I thought that the end result of supporting games was societal violence. But that’s simply not the fact supported either by study or anecdotal observation. Games provide a safe area to interact, build connections, port aggression, focus thought, gain a sense of mastery, and alleviate stress for millions of players around the world. Like movie lovers, soccer enthusiasts, or people who read books, it is a mistake to paint all game players with the same brush, or imply that they all respond identically to playing. In decades as a dedicated gamer, I’ve yet to encounter an individual who channeled their in-game feelings or encounter into a real-life encounter. But that’s all personal experience. Certainly, there has to be some signs that offers a clearer answer.
Despite fervent attempts, critics have failed to discover causal connections between playing video games (violent or otherwise) and actual real-world effects. Back in January 2018, the University of York published a research involving more than 3,000 participants who found games don’t prime players to act in certain ways, which greater levels of violence in games do not necessarily increase aggression.
In 2017, the Media Psychology and Technology division of the American Psychological Association published a statement indicating general public officials and news media should avoid saying that criminal crimes were caused by violent media. “This is a classic error: trying to predict something uncommon, like a violent offense, by looking at something common, like playing video games , for that matter, drinking milk”
A previous 2015 task force report from the APA suggested a correlational link between violent games and short term aggressive trends, but failed to yield any link to criminal violence. And that record was broadly criticized by a set of over 230 research workers to be”misleading and alarming” and mentioning”inconsistent or weak evidence.”
In a research printed in the Royal Society Open Science, Przybylski of Oxford University and Weinstein of Cardiff University discovered”violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behavior” in a study of more than 1,000 participants and an equal number of their caregivers.
But let’s leave the evidence aside for a moment, have a better look in the aggression assertion, and provide critics the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you have felt angry about a bothersome passing in Super Meat Boy? Have you felt your heartbeat and aggressive drive increase in the final minutes of a close Overwatch match? I’m willing to concede that video games provide me an outlet for competitive instincts, a feeling that’s virtually identical to feelings I felt during soccer matches in high school, or when venting to a buddy after a difficult day at work. After enjoying some violent or action-packed games, I do feel an aftereffect. I feel refreshed and energized, and happy I have a hobby that provides an avenue to explore feelings of anger and frustration. Likewise, from my youth until today, video games also have shown a safe area to research rivalry, power, beauty, social conflict, and the nature of narrative. Are we moved by matches to emotions of all types? I believe so, and it’s one of the things I love about the moderate.
But in that exact same dialog, and in the exact same notion of fairness, we have ample evidence to tell us that video games are not the easy scapegoat for society’s ills that many could assert.
Are there any reasons parents may keep children away from certain video games? Obviously! Like virtually any sort of entertainment or art, parents make decisions all of the opportunity to limit exposure to adult content they believe their kid may not be ready to experience or procedure. A lot of the video game industry actually helps with this decision-making process through content principle systems such as the ESRB.
We don’t know with certainty exactly what causes a person to lash out, but other countries definitely have policies in place that make a huge difference. A lot of those countries have active game scenes, including culturally similar places like South Korea, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, nevertheless nowhere close to the speed of gun violence we visit in the USA. Would similar laws operate in our nation? The truth is that we just don’t have as much proof as we would like, in part because the NRA’s leadership and politicians that support the organization actively hinder efforts to examine gun violence. Right?
It’s time to get a new refrain. It is time to lay to rest a weary and feckless debate that attempts to scapegoat an entertainment medium instead of confront the real issues at hand. While everyone is entitled to find specific books, movies, or sports distasteful and to pick a different type of entertainment, presuming that entertainment causes real-world violence has been roundly discredited. And that begs the question — when somebody claims to find reality in this kind of obvious misrepresentation, what should we conclude concerning the speaker?