Do Violent Games Cause Real-World Violence


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Do Violent Games Cause Real-World Violence?


What is the likelihood that playing violent games such as Mortal Kombat and Doom can translate into real world violence? For a long time now, there has been a longstanding debate as to whether violence demonstrated in video games triggers violence in real life. The debate has become more vigorous in the wake of recent mass shootings. On August 3rd 2019, a Texas gunman that killed 22 individuals and injured 24 others in a Walmart store made string references to soldiers in a video game. This is an indication that he was exposed to video violence. While many politicians quickly blamed video games, it was later established that he was motivated by ethnic hatred. This text discusses why violent video games are unlikely to cause real world violence.

No Casual Link

The primary reason why violent video games are not likely to cause real world violence is that no causal link exists between the two. People should not worry about video games inciting violence in the real world. While video games have spread widely to various parts of the world, there has never been a case of increased violence linked to video games in any country. Video games have not driven any countries towards violence yet. While a few studies on violence relating to video games claim to have found a connection between real-world aggression and video games, numerous countervailing studies did not find a persuasive link. While the amount of violence that tends to be showcased in some video games is astounding, and some depict antisocial themes, fortunately, there lacks concrete evidence as to whether such games translate to grisly killings or mass murders. The late Justice Antonio Scalia backs this assertion. Writing for the 2011 Supreme Court decision, he scoffed at the idea that violent video games incite violence in real life. In his viewpoint, majority of the studies pertaining to this at best only show a correlation between violent entertainment exposure to miniscule real-world effects like making loud voices and aggressiveness in the few minutes that follow after children play games.

Studies Implicating Video Games Have Serious Flaws

Another reason why it is not possible that video games incite violence in the real world is that numerous previous studies that arrive at this assertion have been found to have serious flaws. A small but vocal group of researchers that, among other flaws, the studies measure the frequency of language or aggressive thoughts and not physically aggressive behaviors like pushing or hitting that would be more relevance to the real world. The Scientific American article notes that hull and team restricted their research to only studies which measured the relationship between overt aggression and video game use. Similarly, studies conducted by the Dartmouth team assessed physical aggression in users of video games for times ranging three months to four years. In this case, examples of aggression studied included cases of being sent to the disciplinary and school counselor for fighting and hitting other students. According to a press release released detailing the study in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018, the physical aggression incidents were based on reports from parents, children, peers, and teachers (Ferguson, and John 1440). The research was called into question almost immediately. According to two professors, the outcome of the meta-analysis was statistically insignificant. Hull alongside his team wrote that while the results were small they were significant. Psychology Today editorial appealed to a statement made by the American Psychological Associations’ technology and media psychology division in 2017. In the appeal, they warned news media and policymakers to stop associating violent games to serious aggression that takes place in real life because there is no justifiable data to support the beliefs. Notably, studies seeking to establish a correlation between physical aggression and game violence are usually not looking at the wider context of how society enculturates children, particularly boys. Washington State University’s Kathleen Rodgers and Stacey Hust demonstrated that one does not have to establish a causal effect to tell that exposing children to violence-filled games and sexist tropes leads is the gateway to undesirable consequences, specifically the continuation of interpersonal violence in the settings of intimate relationships.


In closing, while there are various studies pointing to the fact that violent video games translate into violence in real-life, there is no real research that proves this assertion. Majority of studies conducted in this area did not find a real correlation between exposure to violent video games and aggressive behavior. Another reason why video games are not as dangerous as most studies point them to be is that most of their results tend to be statistically insignificant because of the serious flaws that the studies exhibit. While the focus of this study is violent video games as the main cause of violence and aggressive behavior, numerous scholars have pointed to other factors such as ethnic hatred racism, psychiatric disorders and access to lethal weapons as the major contributing factors. There is a need for government officials and district legislators to address the more fundamental cause of violence in the real-world. It is the moral obligation of state and federal legislators and government officials to address as a matter of urgency the underlying issues that cause violence rather than blaming video games.

Works Cited

Ferguson, Christopher J., and John CK Wang. “Aggressive video games are not a risk factor for future aggression in youth: A longitudinal study.” Journal of youth and adolescence 48.8 (2019): 1439-1451.