It’s time to stop blaming violent video games

Whenever we deal with violence among teens, we also deal with violent video games. Many people believe this line of thinking, ignoring a variety of factors impacting violence among youth. Unfortunately, this idea has persisted in American culture. The Pew Research Center reported that in 2015, four in 10 adults believed video games are related to violence. This idea is not new, and Congress has been involved in the debate.

Congress conducted a hearing in 1993 due to the release of the game “Mortal Kombat” the previous year. This hearing was spearheaded by then-Senator Joe Lieberman after a Capitol Hill aide’s son got hold of the bloodier Genesis version of “Mortal Kombat.” According to BBC News, these hearings were the beginning of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, eventually labeling “Mortal Kombat” with the now-common “Mature” rating, and they started the “Video Games Cause Violence” narrative. This was not the end of the war on video games.

The Supreme Court addressed a 2005 California law restricting the sale of violent video games as reported by the “New York Times.” Eventually, the law was struck down since they were protected by the First Amendment, as Cornell University noted. According to the “New Yorker,” President Trump claimed violent video games cause gun violence among teens, attempting to turn the discussion away from gun violence after the recent Parkland shooting. This has not been the first time he’s argued this nonexistent link. He tweeted this claim right after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 as well. This idea is nothing more than a vicious zombie lie that never seems to die.

Video games, both violent and non-violent, are an integral part of American and global culture. They are not going anywhere anytime soon, so this useless fear-mongering has got to stop as it serves as an anathema to the very essence of truth. “Forbes” reports that since sales of violent video games went up in the 90’s, every major form of violent crime went down. This is corroborated by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, who reported the rate of serious violent crime carried about by minors between the ages of 12-17 is at its lowest rate in 40 years. Yet this mockery of an idea still permeates our political world like a cancer. This is not to say video games don’t impact us. They do, but it is simply inaccurate to say they make the youth more violent when it is so blatantly evident this is not the case.

The reality is that other factors in life play far more of a role in violent behavior among youth, as Harvard Medical School reported, explaining factors such as personality, motivation and personal situations are far more impactful than video games alone. Video games are played by a multitude of people of various ages. The Pew Research Center reported in 2017 that 53 percent of people ages 30-49 play video games often or sometimes. When “Grand Theft Auto” came out in 2014, it sold at $1 billion in three days, according to the consumerist reports.

This industry contributes to the U.S. economy, and yet many in power still perpetuate this lie. Simply put, this industry impacts the lives of Americans of all ages and should not be forced to face such ludicrous attacks that have been disproven time and time again. It is an insult to our intelligence as a nation for anybody in power to use this distraction.

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Conor J. Kelly was the Opinion Editor for the Lorian and a prolific staff writer. He graduated from Loras College in April of 2021 and is now pursuing his master's in political science at the University of Illinois, Springfield. You can find his new work on The Progressive American newsletter.

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