This weekend saw another shocking explosion of violence in the United States, as the country suffered two mass shootings in the span of 24 hours – one in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in which 22 people lost their lives (as of this writing), and the other in Dayton, Ohio, which resulted in nine deaths. Unsurprisingly, these two back-to-back tragedies renewed calls for gun control and other initiatives and solutions to stem the seemingly-endless tide of American mass shootings. U.S. President Donald Trump held a national address earlier this morning in response to the latest shootings, during which he pointed the finger at a number of factors, including the Internet and a familiar scapegoat – video games.
We must recognize that the Internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts. We must shine light on the dark recesses of the stop mass murders before the start. The Internet likewise is used for human trafficking, illegal drug distribution, and so many other heinous crimes. The perils of the Internet and social media cannot be ignored. […]
Second, 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.
Trump wasn’t the only one pointing the finger at video games, as other Republican lawmakers also brought them up over the weekend. This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has cast a judgemental gaze towards games. Following last year’s Parkland, Florida school shooting, Trump met with various video game industry representatives and established the Federal Commission on School Safety, which examined the effect of violent games on children (amongst many other issues). Ultimately, the Commission largely cast aside the notion that video games (or other violent media) are to blame for mass shootings. Numerous studies have also failed to find a connection between video games and real-world violence, with one psychologist finding less than 20 percent of school shooters have any strong interest in gaming. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has also responded to Trump's statements...
Our deepest condolences and hearts go out to the victims and families affected by the tragic events in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Society has endured too many senseless acts of violence and horrific mass shootings. Blaming video games distracts from the broader issues at hand. There is an overwhelming amount of research that finds there is no evidence linking video games to violence. Video games do not cause violence, and we support efforts to discontinue this misguided information.
Of course, the ubiquity of video games today means some mass shooters are going to be gamers, and the industry can’t completely wash their hands of all culpability, but there’s little evidence games have directly influenced anyone to pull the trigger. The reality is, there’s no one factor behind America’s abnormally high number of mass shootings, and solutions won’t be easy. For his part, Trump said he wants to work with social media companies to more closely monitor violent language on the platforms, reform mental health policies, and push for harsher sentences (including the death penalty) for mass killers. Notably absent was any talk of stricter gun controls. Whatever the solutions to this issue are, I think targeting video games ought to be very low on the priority list.
We’ll keep you updated if Trump or other lawmakers continue to push the video game issue.