We Do Not Need To Defend Video Games From Politicians

We Do Not Need To Defend Video Games From Politicians
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the nation following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. (Photo: Evan Vucci, Associated Press)

American has reached a point in time where it can reliably predict the series of events that immediately follow a mass shooting. In 2019, you can set a clock to it: After the shock and scramble to understand what happened amid the chaotic perpetual loop of social media and cable news, the country begins to learn: about the shooter, about the victims, about the demand for those in government to do something, anything, to make it stop.

Invariably, someone — most likely a U.S. lawmaker too compromised by donors and lobbyists to offer any more than hollow “thoughts and prayers,” or a pundit more interested in controversy and ratings than they are incisive commentary — will bring up video games as a dark cultural force enabling these horrible incidents.

This time, the President joined their ranks, decrying the “gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace” when delivering remarks Tuesday about the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend.

No one need waste any energy disproving this claim, from within games or without. There is scholarship and statistics that can be pointed to if someone is interested in learning more.

The U.S. Supreme Court has also already weighed in. Short of that, expending energy defending the video game medium from disingenuous attacks only serves the interests of those who would prefer to not address the problem of American gun violence.

Video games will continue to be a scapegoat for disingenuous American lawmakers and lobbyists for as long as a scapegoat is needed. And as long as gun violence remains a problem in America, a scapegoat will be needed.

Every second spent defending video games from blame is a second not spent addressing the root causes of what’s become weekly massacres: a complete lack of sensible gun control, an American government utterly disinterested in even entertaining the possibility of said gun control, or combating the racist and misogynist ideologies that fuel the men who massacre the innocent.

Give in to the urge to join the cultural debate about the non-existent role of video games in real-world violence, and you become a pawn, fuel for cable news segments that gun lobbyists and American lawmakers would rather pontificate on instead of addressing the issues at hand.

Remember that we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of a similar mass shooting at a Madden tournament. Remember that just one of these incidents, anywhere, is too many.

We often refer to the “gaming community” as a singular body, even if that’s not particularly true — video games and the people who play them are too large and diverse to be characterised in any one way.

The issue of gun violence, however, is one that directly concerns everyone, and if there is in fact a community around the video game medium, then that community owes it to those around them to do their part, to add their voices to the many that demand change, that refuse to let hate fester in their darkest corners, that puts incessant, urgent pressure on our leaders and those that hold them accountable to do their damn jobs.

Video games don’t need defending. People do, and they’re dying. If we can stop this from happening — and nations around the world have shown that America can — it is imperative that we try. Then we can worry about what the world thinks of video games.


  • I don’t understand the logic of Violent games breed violence in real life. I mean if violent games were common place in todays society, wouldn’t that then infer that when such horrible events take place that we would be desensitised by the following acts. But instead you have clearly distressed communities trying to make the government take responsibility by tightening gun laws. Anyway I am sure my point doesn’t make sense but I feel the argument itself doesn’t. Feel free to chat.

    • There is no logic, its NRA media control at its finest. “Anti video game” lobbys and experts are NRA funded and media outlets fear being sued for defermation by NRA.

  • I would agree, but the internet and interest groups have the worse case of selective hearing that it doesnt matter if you defend or not. Presented with mass shooting stats of ever nation they will just scream fake news and go oit to buy more guns cause they were told their are more shootings.

    The NRA has fully fund anti-video game lobby groups and “tv experts” for over a decade to throw something at the media to bite onto. Sadly this is an easy cause the NRA has a history of suing media outlets… video game industry doesnt defend itself cause they dont think they can win against the NRA.

    • It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone for news media to run opinion pieces with opposing opinions. I actually quite like that both this and the other article exist, because I’m still undecided myself on which one I agree with. It’s good to hear both arguments.

  • Sadly evidence isn’t something that stops politicians/media from talking crap.

    You want to talk about the darker side of these events, the sudden jump in sales following a shooting and empty rhetoric of gun control is well established in the manufacturing and supply chains, it’s become an insane business model.

  • There is scholarship and statistics that can be pointed to if someone is interested in learning more. And how, pray tell, does one point people to these scholarly articles if one does not engage someone in conversation about why video games are not the demons behind these events? How do we turn the conversation to the real cause if we don’t explain why it isn’t video games?

    We absolutely do need to keep defending video games from politicians because obviously so far they have not learned anything and the moment we stop explaining why video games are not the cause is the moment they will think they’ve won because no one is denying it. The conversation does need to be about the real causes, yes, but it needs to start by educating people about how video games are not a contributing cause otherwise they will continue to circle back over and over again as it has for many incidents before this one.

    • At this point, the evidence has been produced so often that the only people who still haven’t seen it are those too stupid to ever understand or (as in this case) those who simply choose to ignore it to push their agenda.

      You can debate the issue with as many studies as you like but as long as people like Trump are in power, facts are meaningless, he just makes up his own ‘facts’ instead…

    • We don’t need to defend. You’ve fallen in to their trap. The whole reason it gets brought up is to deflect conversation away from causes they don’t want to talk about. We need to ignore it and ask the real questions.

  • Hi, i’m an Australian. We have violent video games, reasonable gun regulation AND no mass shootings. We have had less mass shootings in our entire history than America has had in the last few months. We are also more than capable of differentiating between killing in a video game and in real life. Its called ‘not having cognative dissonance’ and is pretty easy for people who aren’t crazy.

    Fix your laws. Republicans are protecting their profits over the lives of your children, you family, friends and neighbours.

    I can get a gun license and own a gun if I choose to. Guns aren’t banned in Australia. No one is taking away your guns or rights. They’re just making it harder for crazy/unstable people and criminals to get them, which is pretty reasonable. If you want to play with automatic weapons, join the military. Your right to play with guns doesn’t outweigh people’s right to live.

  • There are people playing these very same video games in other countries, but they don’t seem to be getting out there and committing mass murder with a thing like the frequency or abandon of the US. Why is that?

    • That won’t work. Not in the US at least. There are too many and it’s too easy to get illegal weapons. And that’s completely aside from the fact that a gun buyback like we had in Oz or NZ would practically bankrupt the Government. Nevermind the political suicide considering how divisive the issue is there. The vast majority of the population needs to arrive at the decision that “guns are bad” (or at least certain guns are bad) before it’ll work.

      As for the whole “games are the cause” issue. While there are studies that show they’re not likely to cause mass shootings, it’s still possible that some unbalanced person could be influenced by them. But is the cause the game (or movie, or book, or whatever) or is it the fact the person is mentally ill? Or that they’ve been radicalised by media/politicians/extremist speakers?

      • I think the long game is the only way to erode gun obsession in the United States. Smoking is a good example of the long game: chip away at the edges, gradually make it undesirable or unaffordable, wait for the effects of each little change to slightly shift public opinion so the next little change is easy to accept.

        Massacres and homicides are still going to happen while this is going on. People are still going to be angry and frustrated that the government isn’t doing enough. But at this point, I think it’s the only strategy that will work. The NRA is far too powerful and far too radicalised to let anything but the smallest things through the net without squawking that the sky is falling.

        Not related to your comment, but this pisses me off enough that it needs to be addressed: people can fuck right off with that ‘too soon’ bullshit. There’s a mass shooting in the United States every other day, by the time it’s no longer ‘too soon’ on the first one another three will have happened. After a massacre isn’t ‘too soon’ to talk about gun control, it’s too late.

        • There’s a particular genre of tweet that pops up after each of these massacres that’s along the line of “if I die in a gun massacre, I grant you permission to politicize my death immediately and without delay”.

        • Yeah I agree with you. I think they need to start small and work their way up. Heck, it’s even possible that small changes will have a big effect so they won’t need to “go all the way”. I think better background checks are a good start.

          I think long term though it’s going to be a problem because besides there being a huge amount of legal guns there are a lot more illegal ones, and it’s relatively easy to get more into the country.

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