Do Violent Video Games Translate 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 concrete. Such evidence includes studies showing that aggression does increase when playing violent video games, as well as testimonies from culprits. However, everything that this argument is founded on is incorrect. I have found that the evidence supporting violent video games as a catalyst for violence is taken for granted and interpreted incorrectly to favor that stance.
Firstly, 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 a larger population of gamers having played violent video games, there have been less violent crimes.
On another note, a 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 a came called Grand Theft Auto. There seems to be very obvious scapegoating in this situation. James Fleck explains in his essay Why We Blame Others, 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 someone is trying to lessen their prison sentence or some other underlying goal, criminals will typically bring other people or another factor into their crime so that they do not get the full wrath of their apprehension.
In conclusion, the evidence that supports the argument of violent video games causing violent behavior is often misinterpreted. Just because games can cause aggression, does not mean it results in 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 almost anything to lessen the consequences of their actions. In reality, for a perpetrator to blame video games only adds to the idea that violent video games are used as a scapegoat.
“APA Review Confirms Link Between Playing Violent Video Games and Aggression.” American Psychological Association. N.p., 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 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).