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Games and Guns

Games and Guns

What type of effect does gun violence in video games have on human behavior with real firearms?

Call of Duty, which has been passed by Fortnite is one of the most successful franchises in video game history, topping charts year over year and boasting around 40 million active monthly users playing one of the franchise’s games over the internet.

What research has been done on the link between video games and violence, and what does it really tell us?


Studies on how violent video games affect behavior date to the mid-1980s, with conflicting results. Since then there have been at least two dozen studies conducted on the subject. One study was linked to an increase in physical aggression while another study had a “calming effect” where boys used them to blow off steam.  Many studies have taken place and continue to come back with conflicting results.

Why has it been so difficult to gather conclusive data?

There seems to be no fundamental way to maintain consistency to aggression research.  With that being said, there is really no way at this point, because it is not strong enough, to draw any kind of causal or even really correlational links between video game violence and aggression.

Determining why someone carries out a violent act, such as a school shooting, can be very complex.  Almost always, underlying mental-health issues are present. 

What about our consumption of violent video came?  That must help explain some of the gun violence.

Actually, it doesn’t.  The Washington Post compared 10 countries and showed that countries with the highest per capita spending on video games, such as the Netherlands and South Korea, are among the safest countries in the world when it comes to guns. In other words, America plays about the same number of violent video games per capita as the rest of the industrialized world, despite that fact that we far outpace every other nation in terms of gun deaths.

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Weren’t the mass shooters all gamers?

Some were die-hard gamers however, this is just an oversimplification of the situation.  The gender and age of many mass shooter places them right in the target demographic for video games.   This demographic which is ages between 18 and 25, also tend to report the highest rates of mental health issues.  To use this as evidence that all gamers are violent, excuses all the other millions of other young men and women who game and aren’t violent.  It is also difficult to determine if the violent youngsters are drawn to the games or do the games make the kids violent?

Whose responsibility is it to monitor what the kids are watching?

Stores can limit youth access.  We can also call for government intervention and ask for tougher laws but whose responsibility is it?  Parents should think long and hard about purchasing these games for their kids. Better yet, they should be involved in the games their kids play so that they can know firsthand whether the actions and images they’re allowing their children to see are appropriate or not.

What do you think?

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