Video games: Too violent or just a scapegoat?

Video games: Too violent or just a scapegoat?

Posted: Updated:

It's a common question that is asked after each school massacre. Were the killers at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland numbed to the carnage by playing violent video games?

President Trump addressed school safety at a meeting Feb. 22, and said it's time to shift the focus to the media kids are consuming namely movies and video games.

"Video games. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts," President Trump said.

Texas Tech Professor John Velez studies video games and their societal effect. He said the majority of research contradicts the President's viewpoint.

"You would be very hard pressed to find an actual social scientist, a researcher, who would ever make a claim like President Trump's claim," Velez said.

He said there's no weight to the claim that game brutality molds players into violent criminals.

"If you look at the research and look at what they're saying and see that leap from what the research says to these claims about mass shootings and violent video games, anyone, once they understand what the research says will recognize that leap to be untenable. It's not an actual leap."

He does acknowledge the link to possible development of some type of aggression.

"What we're seeing about the aggression that we can measure in the lab is more the type of aggression that we can see on the playground. It's not the giant concern that people like to make it."

In a radio interview, Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said violent video games celebrate the "culture of death."

"There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same things that these students are doing inside the school, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who's lying there and begging for their life," Bevin said. 

"A lot of players aren't seeing what they're doing as violent, at least not in the moral sense of violence. They're seeing what they're doing as competing," Velez said.

He said those who don't play don't understand.

"The misconception of gamers is that 'they enjoy being violent.' No, they enjoy solving puzzles, they enjoy overcoming challenges. I think people that don't play games and are usually the ones making these statements don't have experience. They only see the violence and the gore," Velez said.

He believes the ones trying to regulate the games are just choosing a scapegoat.

"It threatens less of their core values, therefore reducing their uncertainty or reducing their anxiety, feeling that maybe there's hope that we can stop these shootings if we just do this very simple thing that's not going to affect me personally very much."

More than 90 percent of children in the us play video games, and among the ages 12-17, that number rises to 97 percent. Experts say the best advice: is monitoring their gameplay, not an all out prohibition.

Powered by Frankly