Gun Violence And Video Games: By Attacking Obama, the Gaming Industry is Hurting Itself


Looks like the violence in video games is not out of the spotlight just yet. In his Wednesday gun violence speech, President Obama detailed a $500 million, 23-part plan to solve the gun violence epidemic.

In his speech, the president stated, "Congress will fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds," he said. "We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence."

Following the address, the White House released an official statement, stating “[the] administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between videogames, media images, and violence.”

Certainly not an inflammatory statement, right? Well, even though the White house clearly mentions video games AND MEDIA IMAGES, gamers have already started crying “foul” because they perceive this as a way of “singling out” the industry. In fact, one headline screams, “Obama Calls Out Video Games in Gun Violence Address.”

The gaming forums, usually very welcoming and friendly places devoid of any misogyny, homophobia, racism or stupidity, are littered with comments like, “It's money being foolishly spent on something that time and time again has been proven wrong, money the tax payer is forced to pay” [sic] and it's “gonna be a long, long four years.”

With such eloquent diction and impeccable syntax, why would the world ever reject the merit of a gamer’s argument?

Of course, let it be said that gamers and publications are not the only ones having a fit. The Entertainment Software Association, which was also represented at Vice President Biden's meeting with industry leaders, has issued a statement, arguing “[scientific] research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.”

Certainly, if there is anyone qualified to speak on scientific affairs, it’s the Entertainment Software Association.

The International Game Developer Association has mirrored the sentiment, stating “In response to the president's executive order, the IGDA welcomes more evidence-based research into the effects of our work to add to the large body of existing scientific literature that clearly shows no causal link between video game violence and real violence."

The statement further reads, “We especially encourage the new research to explore all aspects of violence in media, including their potential benefits. For example, recent research shows a steam valve effect in which violent video gameplay helps release stress and aggression before it can lead to violence. Other studies have indicated that recent declines in real world violence can be attributed in part to potentially violent people spending more time looking for thrills in video games instead of on the streets.”

So, according to the IGDA, violent video games are good for us. So the new videogame, where players take on the role of Adam Lanza, is actually a deterrent against such activities in the future?

Either way, it’s evident that, prior to any research coming out, everyone is already vying to protect their industry. According to the aforementioned organizations, the science is already done, and Obama's proposed research is just a waste of time. For their part, the IGDA at least states, “We support the president's call for new government research, with an emphasis on examining the totality of imaginary violence and not focused only on video games.”

The ESA, on the other hand, had nothing but ridicule for actually using science to study the issue. However, they were certain to assert, “We will embrace a constructive role in the important national dialogue around gun violence in the United States, and continue to collaborate with the Administration and Congress as they examine the facts that inform meaningful solutions.” How very kind of the ESA; they’re willing to be cooperative.

And don’t take any of this to mean that I disagree with either organization. I am a believer in scientific research and it has repeatedly shown no link between violence and video games. Furthermore, sales data has also shown that the average gamer is nowhere near the age of a child, so violent video games and children don’t even belong in the same discussion.

However, it is a little disturbing that all these individuals and organizations are not even open to the idea of studying something. Instead, they’re busy covering their own industries and assigning blame elsewhere before the discourse even starts. Isn’t that what they were saying Wayne LaPierre was doing?

(Which he was).