Does playing violent video games lead someone to commit acts of violence in the real world?
The short answer: No.
There are no studies showing a causal relationship between violent video games and violent behavior. There are some that show that intaking violent media can lead to short-term increases in aggression, but there is no reason to take those findings beyond their laboratory setting.
Millions of people play video games. There are not millions of acts of mass violence. Violence in video games doesn’t cause violent behavior. Just like rap, rock or metal don’t cause violent behavior. Or violence in movies, on television, in books, comics, etc., etc.
There have been reports that Adam Lanza, the Newtown elementary shooter, played “Call of Duty” for hours and hours. The Columbine shooters allegedly played “Doom.”
Does that mean that Call of Duty and Doom are to blame for the massacres? No.
We could argue that Lanza and the Columbine shooters shouldn’t have been playing those games. It may have increased their aggression or made killing seem “cool.” Sure. Why not.
But did playing violent video games make a normal, mentally stable person a killer? No.
Eric Harris was a sociopath. Dylan Klebold was suicidal. You look at them, Lanza, the Aurora shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter. All had psychological problems that had absolutely nothing to do with playing violent video games.
I would have preferred that Adam Lanza not play Call of Duty (I’d also prefer that Adam Lanza’s mom not have weapons in their home, but that’s a whole other can of worms).
But I’m certainly not going to ban it or make it harder for adults to access on the off chance that someone playing it also happens to be planning a massacre.
– The Virginia Tech shooter didn’t even play video games.
– One could argue that a shooter’s predisposition to violent behavior that sparked the massacre also sparked an interest in playing violent video games. Two effects of the same cause: predisposition to violence.
If we’re going to play the finger pointing game, why not look at media?
An article I read about Lanza today (that was refuted as bullshit) cited the 2011 Norway shooting that killed 77 people as one of Lanza’s motivations.
The Columbine shooters were reportedly fascinated by the Oklahoma City bombing.
Maybe we should ban the media from talking about – even glorifying – the perpetrators of massacres. Maybe we should stop them from doing 24/7 coverage for weeks on end after something like this happens.
I’m looking forward to CNN or Fox News pointing the finger at themselves instead of video games as a possible scapegoat.