Political Agendas Shift Blame to Video Games to Avoid Regulation
As has become commonplace in the tragic news surrounding mass shootings, politicians have taken to placing the blame on video games and mental health concerns, rather than pressing gun issues in the US. This certainly isn’t the first time that games have been blamed for real-world violence, though this time around has seen ABC cancel their showing of the Apex Legends esports tournament in the wake of the latest mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, and the pointed finger from politicians.
It seems that, yet again, politicians are shifting the blame in order to avoid having to seriously consider discussing gun regulation. We’re taking a look at the latest news and just why these pointed fingers aren’t really justified.
The Latest News
Over the weekend of the 3rd-4th August, America witnessed two tragic mass shootings within just hours of each other. The first took place in a Walmart supermarket in El Paso, Texas, where a man opened fire. The suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, has since come out claiming he was targeting Mexicans; police even reported that he had potentially posted a racist, nationalist manifesto online prior to the shooting.
Within just 24 hours, another mass shooting took place in Dayton, Ohio, outside of Ned Peppers Bar. The bar itself posted that staff members were safe; but the shooting happened on the street, leaving nine fatalities and 27 injured persons. The police later confirmed that the gunman was killed on the scene within a minute of him opening fire.
In the days following the tragic shootings, the American government responded as they usually do—they put the blame on something other than accessibility to guns. This time, they circled back to blaming violent video games for the mass shootings. This attack on games saw the cancellation of the Apex Legends esports tournament; but, perhaps more bizarrely, Walmart went on to remove their displays of violent video games—while their gun displays remained intact and untouched.
Studies Suggest That Video Games Don’t Cause Violence
Despite the political attack, studies have actually proven that video games aren’t to blame for these acts of violence. The internet has opened up the world of gaming to more and more people; every genre features increasingly stunning graphics and interactive features, whether it’s an MMORPG or a video slot. This spread in gaming hasn’t resulted in increased crime levels. In fact, studies have suggested that the release of new video games actually reduces crime rates. While this could be down to more time spent playing and less time spent out in the streets, it’s enough to show that video games certainly can’t be to blame for any rising crime rates.
There is no proof to suggest that violent video games can influence or cause mass shootings in any way. And while some studies have tried to prove the hypothesis that they do, even Trump’s administration couldn’t garner enough evidence in a study to prove their point.
When you take a step back and look at the situation from a wider perspective, you’ll notice that the USA is far from the only country with a huge video game market. China’s video game market held a $34.4 billion share of the market in 2018; this was actually more than the USA, which held a $31.54 billion share. In the same year, China didn’t have a single mass shooting, while the USA had 340. Clearly, there is more of an issue here than violent video games.
We Know Games Aren’t Reality
For many gamers, their reasons for enjoying video games rest in a sense of escapism and freedom from reality. Some claim that this immersion goes too far—to the point of not understanding the difference between game and reality—but this is incredibly false. Without there being another factor at play, most gamers understand that games aren’t real. Scholars Salen and Zimmerman claim that players are “well aware of the artificiality of the play situation”, and that this is what makes gaming so entertaining. Players can typically come in and out of immersion without trouble, without consequence.
If, at any point, games do cause a player to lose touch with reality, this will have alternate reasons such as mental health concerns or learning difficulties. Of course, this is a debate in and of itself. But there’s one thing that most can agree on. Without access to a gun, the shooting would never have taken place, regardless of whether it was caused by games or otherwise. What are your thoughts?
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