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article imageThere is no link between video games and violent behavior: ESA

By Karen Graham     Aug 6, 2019 in Technology
Do video games trigger violent behavior? Scientific studies have found no link. But the persistent theory is back in the headlines following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the $43.4 billion U.S. video game industry, issued a statement today, pushing back on President Donald Trump's assertion that violent video games were responsible for the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
“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.,” ESA said in a statement, reports The Hill.
After Trump's televised address to the nation on Monday, a number of Republican politicians, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, also cited violent video games in statements about the Dayton and El Paso shootings.
However, Strauss Zelnick, the chief executive of Red Dead Redemption maker Take-Two, said it best about video games and violent behavior. In an earnings call on Monday, he said blaming video game manufacturers was irresponsible, noting, “The fact is, entertainment is consumed worldwide, but gun violence is uniquely American."
The Doom Guy awakes to find his power armor.
The Doom Guy awakes to find his power armor.
Background on mass shootings and video games
Going back to the Columbine shootings in 1999, an investigation found the two shooters enjoyed playing the video game, Doom, a multi-player shooting game. Since that time, technology has improved to the point that we now have realistic and extremely violent video games showing blood splatter, decapitations and lots of gore.
However, there are multiple studies that show no correlation between violent games and mass shootings. But the stereotypes persist - especially when the shootings persist and a scapegoat is needed.
“Politicians on both sides go after video games as if it is this weird unifying force,” Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University said. “It makes them look like they are doing something.”
Markey notes that video games can look "disturbing" to people who aren't gamers. "They look scary. But research just doesn’t support that there’s a link” to violent behavior, he said, according to the Associated Press.
As a matter of fact, after the Parkland school shootings last year, Trump met with representatives of the ESA. The ESA told The Hill they had shared with the White House at the meeting that there is no connection.
In an interview in May, ESA’s president and CEO, Stanley Pierre-Louis said the ESA has been an advocate for providing parents with information and tools to limit the amount of time spent playing. “We are the leading form of entertainment in American culture and we enhance how humans and technology interact and how they interact with each other,” he said at the time.
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