Do Video games cause violence?

Tristan Perry

More stories from Tristan Perry

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November 15, 2021
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Whenever you read the news these days it feels like it’s always the same thing video games cause violence or something like that but it’s not just today people say this. 

Back in the early 1990’s Mortal Combat, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein 3D, and Doom was all the rage and there was a ton of news coverage on it saying it would make people especially kids more violent and that has persisted to this day.  

But even back then the arguments used today were the same “it’s not harmful it’s just a game” This is said in almost every discussion on if games are violent or not but it’s time to bring up some real numbers to see who is right. 

Because this is a real issue with lives on the line. So, if video games do cause violence, then everybody can act accordingly with that knowledge. 

On whatever side this paper comes out on you can be sure that it is true with proof from trusted sources of information whose right or wrong is irrelevant the only thing that matters are the facts. 

 so, the question for today is do video games cause violence in the people that play them? and is there a connection between video games and gun violence in America? 

This argument is covered in opinion and personal interest, so this is meant as a buffer between that because people who play video games say it doesn’t and people who don’t say it does but here’s the evidence. 

But first, let’s see the links between video games and crime because if there’s a direct cause between violence and video games there should be more violence between the early 1990s till now as the ’90s started everything  

The graph below shows the amount of video game copies sold as well as titles released from 1980 to 2015. you can see it growing during the mid-1990s stopping around 2009 and starting to decline.

#1 video game violence story.png

Source: https://medium.com/the-peruser/a-brief-history-of-video-game-sales-49edbf831dc (Links to an external site.) 

And since violent video games started in the early to mid-1990s this gives a great start for this question because it’s clear that if video games cause violence, then crime should increase during these years. 

But looking at the graph below it’s the opposite effect and that murder rates peaked in the 1980s and when all of these violent video games came out murder rates dropped 

 

 #2 video game violence story.png

Source: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-u-s-murder-rate-is-up-but-still-far-below-its-1980-peak/ (Links to an external site.) 

  And from 1991 to 2016 murder dropped by 45.5% rape by 30.0% robbery dropped by 62.3% and assault dropped by 42.7% so all major crime has dropped by at least 30% since the mid-1990s 

But maybe you think that since young people play more games there would be a more violent crime in young people so here’s the graph. 

It’s the same and you can see that it has plummeted since 1992. It almost seems like violent video games prevent murder but look at some more statistics before making your final decision. 

But in the news, it seems to be getting worse but that’s more a case of horrific mass shootings than individual murders so maybe the question should be do video games make individuals more violent. 

Well, that’s complicated mass shooting varies from person to person, and everybody has their definition, but the definition is four or more people killed in a public area. 

So, in that case, from 1982-2006, there were around 1.6 mass shootings a year so 3 mass shootings every 2 years but from 2007-2019 it’s at 5.4 mass shootings per year more than tripled   

#3 video game violence story.png

Source: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map/ (Links to an external site.) 

So maybe the new question should not be if video games make society more violent but if it makes select individuals more violent? And what role did video games play in the lives of past mass shooters? 

Like the Columbine shooters were fans of doom the sandy hook shooter was a fan of the GTA games, and some mass shooters love video games and others have never tried them so there’s no link yet between video games and violence. 

Also, of all the 18 mass shootings over the last 20 years, there were only four that had noteworthy video game habits 

And a good thing to remember is that video games are supper popular 58% of the entire U.S. plays video games and 55% have Sayed they’ve been playing more since the pandemic. 

Look at this graph below and see the difference between men and women in their video games women do play games, right? 

#4 video game violence story.png

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_and_video_games (Links to an external site.) 

Well, looking at this you can notice that the genres that are super popular with men are generally not on the phone. but women primarily play phone games with 83% of candy crush being played by women. 

This is important because women account for around 2.5% of mass shootings and men have the 97.5% so maybe looking at this there will be a link between violent video games with men holding 93% and 96% of FPS and Tactical shooter genres there must be a link, right? 

But none of these actual madders because only 12% of mass shooters showed any interest in video games at all and when around 72% of men under age 30 play video games so it might leave you worse off if you don’t play. 

“Every age has its storytelling form, and video gaming is a huge part of our culture. You can ignore or embrace video games and imbue them with the best artistic quality. People are enthralled with video games in the same way as other people love the cinema or theatre.” said Andy Serkis 

But this is the last point because the USA isn’t the only country that plays video games it doesn’t even play the most in China the market is worth $37.9 billion with 660 million gamers in China and 330,000 employees. 

America has $27.9 billion in the market 220,000 employees and 150 million gamers and several other countries like Japan, Korea, Italy, Germany, UK, France, Canada, and Spain, all these countries spend Billions on video games every year but only one has an epidemic with mass shootings. 

Adjusting for the population the homicides by firearms in the U.S. has 4.46 homicides for every 100,000 people and the other 8 countries add up to 2.55 homicides for every 100,000 people 

So being 2nd on the globally for video games and 1st in gun deaths by a massive margin it’s hard to believe that video games truly cause all the violence the media says it does 

So currently there’s no evidence that video games cause violence. now it’s statistically more probable for somebody who doesn’t play games to commit a mass murder than somebody who doesn’t. 

 So, it’s time to address this issue. And find what causes the violence in America. 

Read this quote, Sayed, by ice cube if you aren’t convinced “think rap music is brought up, gangster rap in particular, as well as video games, every other thing they try to hang the ills of society on as a scapegoat.” 

Or read this on Elon musk owner of three companies and currently, the richest man in the world ” to make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That’s what got me into software engineering when I was a kid. I wanted to make money so I could buy a better computer to play better video games – nothing like saving the world.” 

Can you blame 3.24 billion gamers for all society’s flaws? When is it the people who don’t play them who inflict the pain?