The Brief: Claims from politicians that violent video games are a cause of mass shootings have sparked significant backlash online including a hashtag #GamesAreNotToBlame.

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DEEP DIVE

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:

https://twitter.com/h3h3productions/status/1158427203647881218

https://twitter.com/h3h3productions/status/1158841664938491905

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.

This debate has led to the birth of a new meme format:

Boomers: video games glorify violence

Video games:

https://twitter.com/ayylmaotv/status/1158860257688526849

Reddit communities with significant populations of gamers have been host to a number of memes that mock the suggestion that video games incite violence.

Woman yelling at cat memes: 

BaN aLl ViDeO GaMeS
by indankmemes

Yeah, This is big brain time.
byu/AboookhTheMaster inmemes

Video games bad (OC)
byu/redit_user1212 inteenagers

I wonder which they’ll choose… from r/DankLeft

I just have no shame
by indankmemes

Let’s be real
byu/ClassicDecimus12 indankmemes

Impossible
byu/TheHuntingMaster indankmemes