In the wake of more mass shootings in the U.S. over the weekend, President Donald Trump put the blame partly on “glorification of violence in our society,” and “gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.” The hashtag ‘video games are not to blame’ started trending on social media shortly afterward, and there’s been a renewed round of pushback from industry figures, researchers, and journalists on the idea of linking virtual violence with real atrocities.
Back in 2017, the American Psychology Association’s media psychology division published a policy statement, citing a lengthy array of research conducted over decades, saying that “scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.”
Dr. Chris Ferguson, who led the committee that put together the statement, puts it even more succinctly in an interview with the New York Times. “The data on bananas causing suicide is about as conclusive. Literally. The numbers work out about the same.”
It is true that many perpetrators of violent crimes do play videogames, but as Dr. James Ivory says, “It is very similar to saying the perpetrator wears shoes. They do, but so do their peers in the general population.”
Facts are facts. pic.twitter.com/sSEbdYZcgE
— Reggie Fils-Aime (@Reggie) August 6, 2019
The social media pushback from gamers – including those as prominent as former Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aime – often cited a chart published by Vox, which compares game industry revenue with violent gun deaths around the world.
The U.S. is not the only country with videogames, but it is the one with the astronomical gun violence problem. As Pew Research reports, rates of violent crime in the U.S. – not specific to gun violence – dropped 49% between 1993 and 2017, just as violent videogames should have been having their most profound effects.