Do Violent Video Games Translate to Violent Behavior?
The biggest argument against video games being a scapegoat is that they actually do lead to violent behavior. Violent video games causing violent behavior in gamers seems like a reasonable thing to conclude. The evidence for such a conclusion is also seemingly sound. Such evidence includes studies showing that aggression does increase when playing violent video games, and testimonies from culprits. However, I have found that the evidence supporting violent video games as a catalyst for criminal activity is taken for granted and interpreted incorrectly to favor that stance.
First off, the American Psychological Association’s research on video games finds that there is a correlation between playing violent video games and increases in aggression. This would seem conclusive at face value if it were not for the fact that there are various forms of aggression. Aggressive behavior takes the form of anything from lying and throwing tantrums to fighting and hurting people. It can be verbal or physical, subtle or noticeable. The studies done by the Association are not conclusive in pointing out a link between violent video games and criminal activity, but rather violent video games and a broad spectrum of aggressive actions. It may be possible that there is a connection, but according to data collected by the Entertainment Software Association, as general video game sales increase, the total number of violent offences has been decreasing over time. This shows that despite more people having played violent video games, there have been less violent crimes.
On another note, another critical point is that some criminals admit to video games playing a part in their crime. ABC News reported in 2003 that William and Joshua Buckner shot at passing cars on the Tennessee highway, killing a man and injuring a woman. After being apprehended, they claimed that they were inspired to do the crime after playing Grand Theft Auto. The problem with this is that it is very obvious scapegoating. James Fleck, in his essay Why We Blame Others, explains that people will blame another person or source for an action out of habit. When someone is under heat for their actions, it is a natural reaction to attempt to bring attention off of one’s self and onto another source. This instance is no different. Whether or not they are trying to lessen their sentence or some other underlying goal, criminals will typically bring other people into their crime so they do not get the full wrath of their apprehension.
In conclusion, the evidence that founds the argument of violent video games causing violent behavior is misinterpreted. Just because games can cause aggression, does not mean it cause criminal activity, especially when violent crimes are decreasing as video games are becoming more and more popular. Even testimonies from criminals cannot be taken at face value since a criminal will say anything to lessen the consequences of their actions. In reality, them blaming video games only adds to the idea that violent video games are used as a scapegoat.
American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
News, ABC. “Did Video Game Drive Teens to Shootings?” ABC News. ABC News Network, 06 Sept. 2003. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
Fleck, J. R. (2011). Why we blame others: An examination of scapegoating (Order No. 1492807). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (862344967). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/862344967?accountid=13605