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For the Last Time: Video Games Are Not the Problem

Megan Cronin

Posted on February 23, 2018 12:20

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In the wake of every mass shooting, people look for explanations on how something so horrendous could happen. The fact that video games are still brought up is an antiquated means of deflection from the real issues at hand. Video games are not to blame for school shootings, and to suggest such is nothing more than sweeping real issues under the rug.

Rhode Island State House representative Robert Nardolillo proposed a tax raise on violent video games in response to the Parkland shooting. I have a problem with this.

This tax implies that the catalysts behind school shootings are M-rated games. Nardolillo stated, "There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not," though he failed to say what that evidence was.

Well, it's my turn to make a statement: violent video games do not turn your average person into a school shooter, and I have evidence to back up my assertion.

Let's start with the fact that about 42% of Americans play games regularly. To focus on violent ones, look no further than blockbuster franchises Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, both of which are touted as the pinnacles of video game violence.

In its first 24 hours of sales, Grand Theft Auto V sold a whopping 11.21 million copies, and its first three days of sale raised one billion dollars. As franchises, Grant Theft Auto has sold more than 250 million copies, and Call of Duty an astonishing 307 million.

If we believe violent video games make school shooters, that's an awful lot of potential shooters. Yet, the United States Secret Service's own 2004 report found that only 12% of school attackers showed an interest in violent video games, but 37% of them expressed interest in violence through their own writing, such as poetry and essays, making writing a far better indicator of potential future violence.

Astute readers may be quick to point out that the study is old and observed school violence carried out between 1974 and 2000; that's hardly the peak time period for violent shooting games, right? Well, the first four entries in the Doom franchise spanned the 90's, along with Heretic, Wolfenstein 3D, Goldeneye, Hexen: Beyond Heretic and Quake, to name a few first-person shooters of the time. (The 90's also spawned the first entries in some famously violent series, such as Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil.)

What happens when games get realistic? Wouldn't modern games have adverse effects? Nope. A study published in January 2018 found there is no evidence that violent video game exposure causes players to have a desensitized empathy for pain. The game used for the study? Grand Theft Auto V itself.

I've thrown many articles in here, and it's not difficult to throw one back suggesting violent video games make young kids violent. However, in that same article, the people who ran the study admit that "the rise in popularity of video gaming has not been matched by a similar rise in violent crime among adolescents" and such studies "often fail to account for other factors that can contribute to aggression, such as violence in the home, abuse, and mental illness."

America has a problem, but using video games as a scapegoat lets the true roots of the problem continue spreading.

Megan Cronin

Posted on February 23, 2018 12:20

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Source: IGN Articles

A Rhode Island representative has proposed a raise in tax on M-rated video games to fund mental health provisions in schools....

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