I was so young when I first picked up a video game controller, I can’t remember it. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been a gamer all my life. It’s how my Dad and I used to bond. My best friends are gamers, my brother is a gamer, and a good chunk of my following are all gamers as well. When I need to relax or cool down, I play a video game.
And at no time in my life, filled to the brim with video games, has it ever inspired me to hurt or kill someone.
Yet Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is jumping on board a never proven school of thought started by the discredited and disbarred anti-video game lawyer Jack Thompson. According to Bevin, who spoke to Leland Conway of WHAS on Thursday morning, the cause of the Parkland shooting that took the lives of 17 high school students and injured many more was video games.
From Rolling Stone:
“There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them,” Bevin said. “They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life.”
“These are quote-unquote video games, and they’re forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech. It’s garbage. It’s the same as pornography. They have desensitized people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency.”
This is a claim that has been made ad nauseam since the days of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and was even made about games like Dungeons & Dragons before that. Somehow, video games are rotting away our brains, teaching us to be violent sociopaths, and pulling society into the gutter. It’s been made by people ranging from politicians on both sides of the aisle, to more popularly today, social justice activists.
It’s also a claim completely unfounded by scientific studies.
For instance, Sociologist Whitney DeCamp and psychologist Christopher Ferguson of Western Michigan University delved into the relationship between instances of violence in children and video games and found that video games were a weak predictor for aggressiveness.
“The young males in my research were in grades eight and 11. I found that just by themselves, even without any controls, violent video games were a poor predictor of violent behavior,” DeCamp says. “Even in the best model, it only explained about 3 percent of the variation in violent behavior.”
According to the study, “even that 3 percent shrank when DeCamp accounted for other factors. He also found similar results among girls.”
“After controlling for other factors,” he added, “I found that not only were the effects very weak in comparison with other ones, they were mostly non-significant after you included those other controls.”
What was a more significant factor in the manifestation of violence in children? The answer is home life, the same thing it is in many other cases of violence.
“The parenting measures in my study were some of the bigger predictors,” DeCamp says. “The parental attachment between the youth and the parent, the monitoring activities of the parents—that is, whether the parents are aware of what the kids are doing—and parental enforcement of the rules were all strong predictors. Seeing or hearing violence in the home and experiencing violence in the home were also powerful predictors. So home life seems to matter more than just playing violent video games.”
Dr. Andy Przybylski, from Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute, also conducted a study and found video games to be something of a minor factor in how aggressive a child becomes, but did find the minor effects often had the opposite effect of turning them violent according to the Telegraph.
The study, published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, found that children who play online games involving linking up with other players were less slightly likely to have problems relating to other children than those who played alone.
Equally those who mainly played solitary games generally performed better academically and were less likely to display aggression.
Similar results were found in a January 2018 study from the University of York which found violent realism in video games hardly grew the aggression in gamers one iota. Another conducted by Dr. Gregor Szycik of the Hannover Medical School found that gaming does not blunt a gamer’s empathy.
I could go on, but you get the point. There is little correlation between being violent, and being a gamer. Pushing this narrative is done with little scientific backing, and looks more like a knee-jerk reaction we’ve seen time and again when someone is desperately looking to put the blame on something for an atrocity.
We see this happen a lot from the left after a shooting when they attempt to paint the gun as the reason behind the violence. We apply the correct logic that the gun, a non-sentient object, did not put itself in the hands of the shooter and instruct him to pull the trigger. The same can be said of video games, which as studies show, actually has an aggression curbing effect. It no more inspires violence than a game of Mouse Trap or Uno. Kids who play Operation are not suddenly trying to reach into their family members or fellow classmate’s bodies with tongs. A game of Monopoly has yet to produce a kid attempting to buy up railroads.
As with gun violence, we can always trace an instance back to a bad home life, or involvement in crime cultures, or mental illness, or radical ideologies. The fact that they played video games at one point or another has been a sorry factor in determining the violent behavior of those who harm the innocent.
But most importantly, just as the left points at gun owners as the source of gun violence despite the fact that millions of gun owners never commit a single crime nor have a violent bone in their body, millions of gamers play their games and commit crimes no worse than jaywalking. Attempting to link violence and video games is the same thing the left does with guns and violence. There’s no link, and it insults the millions of gamers that constitute the blue whale of subcultures.
And by the way, those gamers vote.