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There's no evidence to back up Trump's claim that video games cause mass shootings


Daniel Howley, Technology Editor, Yahoo Finance•August 6, 2019
President Donald Trump addressed the nation on Monday following two mass shootings over the weekend that killed more than 30 people to lay the blame for the attacks at the feet of a culture that glorifies violence. And the biggest culprit of all? Why video games, of course.


“As we shared at the White House video game meeting in March 2018, numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence," a spokesperson for the Entertainment Software Association, an industry trade group, told Yahoo Finance.


"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."


Stetson University Professor Christopher Ferguson, who attended a meeting on violent crimes and mass homicides with the Trump administration explained that at the time of the meeting, administration officials came to the conclusion that games weren’t to blame.


“Even the Trump administration’s own review of this didn’t support this narrative of lixing violent video games to mass shootings,” Ferguson said.


“While we're exhausting the oxygen in the room talking about this, we're not talking about other issues whether gun control, or income inequality, or mental health, or [topics] that might be more productive in reducing the amount of crime in society,” Ferguson added.


School shooters in particular flout the typical stereotype of obsessively playing video games.


According to Markey, about 13% to 20% of school shooters play games. Compare that to the 70% of adolescent males who play games. Markey says the difference likely comes down to the fact that school shooters exhibit abnormal social behavior. And since gaming is a common, normal behavior for most teens with healthy social lives, shooters are less likely than the average teen to play video games.


Since the emergence of violence in video games, speculation has emerged about the effect that brutality has had on gamers. Games like "Mortal Kombat" have been derided for what was then considered to be photo-realistic depiction of extreme violence. And as technology has improved over time, so too have the graphical capabilities of console and PC games, leading to even more realistic scenes of violence.


What's more, the gaming industry has gone through an extended period of explosive growth. Millions of people around the world play games on a daily basis ranging from building-style titles like "Minecraft" to competitive online shooters like "Fortnite" and "Call of Duty."


Still, experts have yet to find a connection between games and criminal violence.


"Violent video game play is lixed to increased aggression in players, but insufficient evidence exists about whether the lix extends to criminal violence or delinquency," reads a 2015 American Psychological Association report on video games and violence.


But a key point often left out of the discussion is that many perpetrators of mass shootings are young men. And many young men also happen to play video games. That, however, doesn't necessarily result in a lix between video games and violence.


What's more, video games are a global form of entertainment. Canada, China, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and other countries around the world play videos games, but none experience mass shootings with such frequency as the U.S.