April 24, 2018

Do Violent Video Games Affect People’s Minds?

Naomi Sessler ‘21

Violent video games have always been a topic of contention when it comes to their influence on real life crimes. Recent tragedies have brought this conversation to a new level.
Almost a month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, President Donald Trump has cited the content in video games as a potential cause for the violence.
“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of gun violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” the President said.
Trump declared he wanted a government rating system for video games to replace the current rating systems, which are run by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
During a press conference on March 1, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reported President Trump expressed a desire to meet with the CEOs of video game companies to discuss violence in the medium. The meeting, which occured a week later, consisted of the President showing a video of violent video games and, reportedly, an unproductive conversation afterwards.
While the federal government has done nothing to regulate or ban violent video games, government officials in states such as Rhode Island and Illinois have taken action. In Illinois on March 2, a 16-year-old posted a video of himself on Snapchat playing a violent video game. The post had the caption: “Y'all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.” He was subsequently arrested and banned from planning violent video games.
This occured right after an National Rifle Association-endorsed game, “NRA: Shooting Range,” was taken off of the app store. The app was removed right after many companies were facing pressure for dealing with the NRA.
In Rhode Island, Republican Robert Nardolillo, a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, suggested a 10 percent tax increase on video games with a rating of M (Mature) or higher. The tax would be used to fund mental health provisions in schools. When proposing the bill, Nardolillo said, “There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not.”
Representative Nardolillo, however, did not provide any evidence. When talking about the reason for the bill, Nardolillo said, “The bill would give schools the additional resources needed to help the students deal with aggression.”
Previous school shootings have led to the accusation that violent games could have been the cause of such violent actions. However, there is no evidence to support that claim. An article from NBC News states “there is no link between violent video games and school shootings.”  
Former Supreme Court Justice Scalia stated these studies, “purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children… [they] have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with a good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively.”
Rachel Maddow, a journalist on MSNBC, pointed out that, “blaming films and television might make more sense if we didn’t export our entertainment to countries that, again, don’t have the kind of mass shootings that are alarmingly frequent here.”
Although reports from associations such as the American Psychological Association have stated there is not enough evidence to show playing violent games can lead to criminal behavior, there is evidence that shows that playing these games can lead to aggression.
Not just violent video games are being put under fire for these frequent school shootings. President Trump is also blaming violent movies saying, “And then you go the further step, and that's the movies. You see these movies they're so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved, but killing is involved.”
Like violent video games, no studies have shown these products are to blame for the recent shootings.

It is still too early to see whether or not legitimate action will be taken by the federal government concerning violence in the media. However, it seems no matter what numerous studies have shown, people are still adamantly blaming video games for violence.

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