No Peter Dutton, Violent Video Games Aren’t The Reason I Can’t Walk Alone At Night

No Peter Dutton, Violent Video Games Aren’t The Reason I Can’t Walk Alone At Night

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses domestic violence and rape.

Peter Dutton says violent video games are partly to blame for violence against women in Australia, but people playing video games aren’t the reason I don’t feel safe walking home alone at night.

Dutton, the Australian Opposition Leader, made the comments about video games and their supposed wider impact during an interview with David Speers on ABC’s Insiders program Sunday. His remarks have already made their way onto social media and sparked discourse around whether games have a negative impact on young people and incite violence both broadly, and more specifically against women.

“The computer games that young boys are playing where violence is a very significant part of what’s being enforced into their minds on a regular basis,” Dutton said. “The treatment of women, what they’re seeing in some of the computer games, what they’re seeing on social media, the normalisation of all of that, it’s just the lack of manners in society more generally…”

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Dutton has come out with similar arguments against video games and what role they might play in influencing people to commit horrific acts of violence. Further, he’s not the first politician to make the suggestion after violent events like the Westfield Bondi attack, or after mass shootings in the U.S. 

Much like many of the other politicians linking video games and violence, particularly in young people, Dutton’s argument didn’t actually include any facts or studies to back up his claim. 

There have been a raft of studies that say there doesn’t appear to be any causal link between violent games and violent acts in real life. In 2023, Stanford’s Brainstorm Lab reviewed 82 medical research articles to see if any studies found a conclusive link – none did. In fact, one study reviewed whether changes in violent crime could be linked to the release of violent video games – with the FBI’s annual crime reports and three decades of violent game sales, no evidence was found to suggest these titles increased actual violence. Similarly, a 2019 study by researchers from the University of Oxford and the Oxford Internet Institute looked to measure adolescent aggression and violent video games. The findings made during the comprehensive study found no association.

The findings of these studies may not come as a surprise to some. Video games have found themselves as the ‘reason’ for youth violence among many other cultural cornerstones like TV, metal, and rap music. It’s a tale as old as time: take something young people engage in and create a new wave of Satanic Panic-esque hysteria amongst parents and care-givers for the reasons why we see people committing violent acts. 

The bigger picture

But like I said before, games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto aren’t the reason I can’t wear headphones so I can hear if someone approaches me, or why I share my location whenever I go somewhere just in case I go missing. Games aren’t the reason The Red Heart Campaign exists – the reason thirty women and children have been lost to violence in Australia in 2024, with ten of those deaths in April alone. 

Violence against women (and violence more broadly) in Australia particularly is a much larger societal issue that spans beyond video games, or music, or social media, or whatever else politicians choose to blame. It’s even seen in the attitudes and actions of some politicians themselves, with many disgraced members of the cabinet stepping down for one scandal or another relating to the treatment of female staff over the years. We’ve only just finished up litigating the case of a woman raped in parliament house under Dutton’s own party’s watch.

While we’ve come a long way in protecting women through laws and campaigns (both grassroots and major), there’s a long way to go. There are wider issues that must be taken into account in order to tackle violent crime and behaviour locally. It just so happens that piling blame onto ‘those computer games’ as Dutton calls them isn’t one of the ways we can work towards the world being a safer place for everyone in it.

While Dutton continues clutching his proverbial pearls at the concept that someone could play a game where you shoot people and then not carry that behaviour over to the real world, I’ll be continuing to clutch my keys between my fingers when the sun goes down, and hope to whatever power is out there that I’ll never have to make use of them.

Help is available.

  • If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
  • If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence or domestic violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online
  • Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: roanokecollege/Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0


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