The Brief: Claims from politicians that violent video games are a cause of mass shootings have sparked significant backlash online including a hashtag #GamesAreNotToBlame.
After terrible tragedies and unthinkable acts of violence occur, people often try to look for explanations, answers, and ways to prevent them in the future. In the wake of two mass shootings that occurred within 24 hours in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killing 31 people and injuring dozens more, many people are looking for answers. A number of possible factors that may have contributed to these shootings have been cited including white supremacist radicalization and terrorism, access to guns, mental illness, and violent video games.
In the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Republican politicians including President Donald Trump have blamed violent video games as a possible contributing cause of these mass shootings. In an address on Monday, President Trump said “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society…This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”
While there are issues with certain online gaming communities serving as hubs for toxic culture and alarming gamification of terror, evidence shows that there is no direct link between video games and violence.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) responded to these comments, stating that “More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”
Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, video games have been a political talking point in the wake of mass shootings, even as studies continue to show that there is no link. As Virginia Tech professor and research director James Ivory suggested in an interview with CBS, people may look to violent video games as an answer because they find the violence in video games to be troubling or as a way to avoid discussing other factors correlated with these violent incidents.
Responses From The Gaming Community #GamesAreNotToBlame
The comments made by Trump and other Republican lawmakers have sparked significant backlash online from people who play video games and fact-checkers disputing the validity of such claims. Many people are using the hashtag #GamesAreNotToBlame to spread awareness about the research-backed facts about video games and violence.
From H3H3 YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein:
The president just blamed video games for the increase of shootings – does anyone actually believe this except for fox news and crusty old boomers who have never held a controller? pic.twitter.com/ZAG47NgHC0
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) August 5, 2019
Hila was playing GTA last night and this morning she accidentally stepped on shredders foot. #gamesaretoblame
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) August 6, 2019
I’m sorry, but they really aren’t to blame. Video games have helped me in some of the best ways possible. I’ve met some amazing people thru video games, that I consider very close friends. Stop trying to blame Gun Violence on Video Games and Music. #VideoGamesAreNotToBlame
— 🎀💀 𝗕𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗲𝘆 𝗠𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 🎀💀 (@MIWBailey666) August 5, 2019
Studies have shown that video games can be a valuable source of stress relief. Many aspects of playing video games including routine regularity, healthy competition, goal setting, and cooperative gameplay can have positive effects on players’ mental health. As this therapist points out, video games have a breadth of benefits for the children and adults who play them.
Therapist who also streams videogames here. Parents, please don’t listen to the media. Games can increase memorization, creativity, and can even cultivate a child’s sense of empathy. But what do I know, I’ve just got three degrees in this field. #GamersAreGood pic.twitter.com/iLSR6UBJHZ
— PsycheSiren (@Psyche_Siren) August 6, 2019
— Baron Black (@TheEmpBruh) August 5, 2019
This debate has led to the birth of a new meme format:
Boomers: video games glorify violence
Here we go again
Boomers: video games glorify violence
Video games: pic.twitter.com/3yOkVPM5Hq
— nick (@24framesofnick) August 5, 2019
boomers: "video games glorify violence"
video games: pic.twitter.com/Ru9PZ8PfGR
— ayylmao (@ayylmaotv) August 6, 2019
Everyone else: pic.twitter.com/IQ9EdjTYH5
— Hispanic American Patriot🇺🇸 (@AngelOr29389086) August 6, 2019