Playing video games does not make you a mass shooter, expert says

Entertainment

During a speech on Monday addressing the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump call for an end to — or substantial reduction of — the “glorification” of violence in “gruesome and grisly” video game culture. While some are quick to blame video games for real-life acts of violence, experts say there is no such link.

“When it comes to actual serious criminal violence, there’s virtually no evidence that video games matter,” James Ivory, professor and research director at Virginia Tech, told CBS News.

Ivory has researched the social and psychological dimensions of media, particularly the content and effects of video games. He says he’s determined that a lot of things influence violent crime — but the media we consume is not one of them.

“There is a little more interesting research that kind of links between the games and the more abstract forms of aggression. But when it comes to serious violent crime, video games don’t really matter,” Ivory said.

He instead named several “strong predictors of violent crime,” such as poverty, substance abuse and child abuse. “I think another reason we like point to video games is because we don’t want to talk about other things that we know are much more likely to be relevant,” he said.

The public doesn’t always blame crime on video games — but they are eight times more likely to do so when the perpetrator of a crime is white, according to Ivory. “White people don’t play video games more than people of color,” he said. Therefore, pulling video games into conversations about white criminals may be using the games as a baseless excuse.

While 165 million Americans play video games, billions play them worldwide. Yet other countries do not connect these games with violent acts, video game trade group The Entertainment Software Association told The Associated Press.

Ivory reiterated that study after study shows media, including video games, has no link to violent crime. “I think it’s OK morally to have a problem with celebrating violence. It’s even OK to say maybe playing video games a lot does something to you, but it definitely doesn’t make you a mass shooter. There are other things that affect that,” he said.

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