Do violent video games lead to violent behavior?

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Mass shootings in recent years have been more prominent than in years past. It felt as if every other day there was a breaking news headline with details of a fatal shooting. With the influx of these horrible events, people have debated the motivations of shooters.

One big topic of discussion was violent video games, like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. This thought was that people who played games like these were influenced to go out and orchestrate shootings. This idea gained a lot of support, and demand for games like these to be banned started to rise.

The fact of the matter is that, quite frankly, violent video games have little to no impact on super violent behavior. These video games, which are very popular among a wide range of age groups, should not be banned. There are other factors that influence violent behavior.

According to James Ivory, a professor and research director at Virginia Tech, certain studies have shown that things like substance abuse, poverty and child abuse are relevant causes of extremely violent behavior. However, people want to avoid these types of issues and take the easy way out by blaming violent video games when someone commits mass murder.

Philip M. Boffey, a neuroethics columnist, wrote an article in 2019 that shared claims similar to those of Ivory. After the El Paso shooting, there was belief that there was a link between this type of behavior and violent video games. Unfortunately for those who support this idea, though, the motive of the shooter was purely ethnic hatred. Boffey also looked into studies on the link between violent video games and violent behavior, but he found no tangible connection.

There is reason to be skeptical of these links as well. Video games have grown on a worldwide scale. If there is a link between these video games and this behavior, then the rest of the world would be seeing these same issues. However, only the United States is experiencing this behavior on such a large scale, and it’s time we dive into the real reasons for it.

Banning violent video games would not help the situation at all. The result would be millions of disgruntled gamers who still have no motivation to commit an extreme crime. Society needs to open its eyes and realize that there are real reasons that correlate with violent behavior that need to be addressed. Violent video games are strictly recreation, nothing more. Rather than unnecessarily banning these games, it is time to move the lens of the problem toward more proven motives.