Because of a string of mass shootings over the past year, there has been a narrative being pushed that video games are causing violence.
Some believe that because video games like “Fortnite” glorify weapons that this might encourage young, impressionable minds to become more violent.
I believe this is simply false.
Of course the issue of guns in America is very controversial and I am not here to step on anyone’s toes, only to provide my opinion on this very specific area of the issue about video games.
While it can be said that video games may sometimes include violence, this doesn’t mean video games are the sole problem for the rise in shootings.
First of all saying that “video games are violent” is too broad of a statement and fails to obey logic.
Many games don’t include violence, including games like “Mario Kart,” “Stardew Valley,” and “Madden.”
And while it is true that some video games include violence, that doesn’t mean that video games cause violence.
No one has ever been murdered because of an intense game of Tetris.
Saying that video games are the sole reason for shootings is like saying that sharks are the sole cause of death.
While some people have died because of sharks, that doesn’t mean that every death is the result of our fishy friends.
Well, what about games that do include violence? Do they cause aggression?
The answer is a firm … maybe.
Some research has been published saying that playing certain video games increases aggression, but the legitimacy of the experiment has been called into question, and there has yet to be a study pulling the debate a single way.
The problem is that there are studies with results that would seem to sway the debate, but for every study about why video games help us learn communication skills, there is an equal number of studies that say that “Pacman” is causing children to eat their siblings.
For now, we have to use our intuition, which for some people means that playing “Minecraft” will make you slaughter fictional zombies by the dozens in real life.
Games for many people, including myself, can even be a cathartic experience that reduces stress and anxiety.
Taking stress out on fictional characters prevents gamers from releasing it in the real world.
Many games like “Undertale” implement a pacifist mechanic that allows gamers to choose mercy over violence when confronted with an adversary. The game will reward you with stronger relationships with the characters in the world if you choose mercy over violence.
Even if video games do happen to “cause violence” or aggression, that statement is a far cry from video games causing a mass shooting.
The notion that something as small as video games are responsible for the lives of thousands of people is unnerving.
Most games just don’t directly incite violence, including games with guns, and it is silly to assume that these digital realities are causing terrible tragedies.
The line between the real and virtual world, while getting thinner, still presents a barrier for violence.