Violent video games blasted by Republicans following El Paso and Dayton mass shootings

UPDATE: US president Donald Trump has now weighed in on the matter, condemning violent video games and blaming them for the recent mass shootings in America.

Taking a podium at the White House, Trump called  the shootings “barbaric slaughters” and said, “our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.” The irony runs deep from a man who has done much to embolden these very ideologies which he now criticises.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” said Trump. “This includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy 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.”

I mean, this is a ludicrous state of affairs. That violent games can be targeted before the guns themselves is just mind-blowing. Anything and everything is getting the blame rather than the core issue which the rest of the planet can see from a mile off.

With the president himself weighing in though, things could get quite turbulent from here. He’s obviously got more sway than just about anyone in the world, and if we start seeing stricter measures in place then this could certainly trickle to the players.

You can watch the address yourself here.

Original Story: 05-Aug-2019 – Violent video games blasted by Republicans following El Paso and Dayton mass shootings

Here we go again, it’s Groundhog Day in the world of video games as conservative politicians once again lay into violent video games and suggest they could be linked to the torrent of mass shootings taking place in the United States.

Top House Republican and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has responded to the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, claiming first-person shooters can dehumanise gamers and outlining how it could be a problem for future generations.

“This may be a place where we could find this ahead of time,” said McCarthy while appearing on Fox News’  ‘Sunday Morning Futures’ show. 

“The idea that these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals. I’ve always felt that it’s a problem for future generations and others. We’ve watched studies show what it does to individuals, and you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also weighed in with his two cents as well, appearing on Fox & Friends to say “How long are we going to ignore—at the federal level particularly—where they can do something about the video game industry.” The El Paso shooting is thought to be a hate crime specifically targeting immigrants, including the shooter sharing his manifesto on 8chan (nice one THQ Nordic, that ‘marketing’ move gets more painful by the day), but hey, it’s the games to blame. 

“Why are we allowing young people or anyone to go to a website to learn and be killed and be praised to put this manifesto out,” he continued. “Why are we allowing—90 percent of our children is the estimate, between the ages of 12 and 17—watching video games? Again, larger than the music industry and the movie industry combined.”

I’d probably blame the rise of white nationalist terrorist screw-ups and terrible gun laws before I tackled games which are available around the rest of the planet and, interestingly enough, don’t contribute to daily mass shootings in the Netherlands, Australia, or basically anywhere else but the good ol’ US of A.

As you’d expect, there have been endless studies into the effect of playing video games, particularly in terms of children and young adults. The New York Times published a report last year indicating there was no evidence to link video games and mass shootings; a Supreme Court Justice said in 2011 that psychological studies indicated the connection between violent games and harmful effects on children does not cause children to act aggressively; a study in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ in 2018 discovered there was a 0.08% rise in aggression based on teens playing violent games. That latter discovery is so statistically tiny as to be largely pointless and pales in comparison to other triggers which can contribute to violence.

What it all boils down to are there are many factors which come into play when someone goes out there and does something truly horrific. It’s absurd to think someone could play a game and just go out there and try and replicate it without any other factors coming into play. 

There are political views to consider, mental health, upbringing, access to firearms (USA has 4.4% of the world’s population and 42% of the world’s guns), and the level of societal violence. Most of these things cannot be a particular determinant, but instead a correlation of factors. If mental health were specifically to blame, for example, we’d have to assume the US has an inordinately high percentage of citizens with severe mental disorders compared to other countries, something which just isn’t true.

The only indisputable correlation we have right now is with the number of weapons in the US and the proportion of mass shooters. The only other country with a higher rate of mass shootings per 100 million people is Yemen, a country with the most people in need of humanitarian aid in the world, the highest rate of corruption in the Middle East and, incidentally, the second-highest rate of gun ownership worldwide behind the US. It’s hardly the finest company for the land of the free to keep.

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This willingness to use, and the prevalence of, guns, contributes to the eye-opening statistic from Berkely’s Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins that you are 54x more likely to die during a robbery in New York than you are London.

But, as ever, despite this correlation, there’s a contingent of politicians (who rely on the gun vote to stay in power) pointing the finger of blame at violent video games despite a tiny 0.08 link with a rise in aggression. It’s an oldie but a goodie in terms of diverting the blame, a scapegoat which gives rise to sensationalist headlines and plenty of moral panic – perfect politician fodder.