Debunking the Myth: “Video Games Stimulate Violence”

By Sairam Hussain Miran 04 Oct, 19

Image source: The Game Bolt

As I approach the final round of my death match in Grand Theft Auto, I sit on my beanbag upright yet restless, leaning forward, eyes fixated to the screen and hands glued to my Xbox Controller. I am ready to hunt down and annihilate my opponents, I am ready to rip through Team Blue, I grit my teeth in fury as the countdown comes to a halt and the game begins; It’s time to kill. 

And then, after the game ends, I come back to reality. I casually munch on my crisps, I return to the real world where I know that my actions will have real consequences, unlike in GTA, of course, where I can just respawn. 

Unfortunately for gamers, a surprisingly large number of people, including the President of a first world country, fail to comprehend this simple concept. The US ironically happens to be the largest gaming nation in the world in terms of revenue and the largest critic of the gaming industry. President Trump infuriated a lot of avid gamers and concerned countrymen when he gave out the following statement after a number of tragic, consecutive mass shootings took place: 

We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately. Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life.”

According to the President, problems deep rooted in his country’s history of slavery, white supremacy and lack of gun control all boil down to one simple solution; abolish gaming.

Image source: The Next Web

When the leader of the free world makes such an aggressive attack on an industry, the world listens. With words, President Trump and other believers of this myth have ultimately attempted to reduce a thriving industry into nothing but a mere hobby that instigates terror. 

There have been a number of extensive studies to counter the growing myth about video games apparently being the ‘cause of all evil’. James Ivory, research director at Virginia Tech, has recently denounced this claim completely, "When it comes to actual serious criminal violence, there's virtually no evidence that video games matter", he says. Ivory further tells CBS News how gaming may or may not lead to more subtle and harmless forms of aggression if played for long periods, but it certainly has no real correlation with any sort of violent crime, "There is a little more interesting research that kind of links between the games and the more abstract forms of aggression. But when it comes to serious violent crime, video games don't really matter," Ivory explained. 

On the contrary, video game skeptics may argue that there have been scientific reports telling us otherwise as well, for instance when the American Psychological Association positively related video game usage to aggression. However, it is important to note that each of those reports, including this one, have always said that there is insufficient evidence to establish any link between gaming and even minor criminal activity. Even more convincing is the fact that Professor Andrew Przybylski managed to deduce that these slight correlations were largely due to a third factor. Nevertheless, one must understand that an angrier person for a short period of time is not the same as a deranged individual who shoots up schools and public places. 

Moreover, a number of other concrete studies such as that of Maya Mathur and Tyler Vander Weele, have proved that there is simply no evidence of substance to relate any criminal or violent activity to gaming behavior.

 That said, it still must be understood that too much of anything is still harmful, and it is the responsibility of parents and students to ensure that gaming is enjoyed in a safe manner. 

To give you an answer for the next time your relatives assume your dark future because of RPG or FPS addiction in summer, Dybrinski puts the debate to a logical end by questioning, "The question that you have to ask yourself is, do people go out and do mass shootings after they rage-quit 'Call of Duty'?" They do not, Mr. Trump. 

What does cause one to pull the trigger? That’s a question we all know the answer to, but perhaps no one is ready to hear it. One thing is for sure; it certainly isn’t the R2 or RT trigger.