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January 31, 2013

And the Games Begin

 

A few days after the horrendous shooting in Sandy Hook, Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, did not miss exploiting the situation by calling for a study of video game violence and its effects on children. But when Vice President Joe Biden sent his list of gun control measures to the president, it focused on guns and did not mention video games.

Before most of us could even begin to process the facts, much less our emotions, and after reports that the murderer was a video games player, the nattering nabobs that crowd the airwaves followed the senator’s ill-advised lead by opining that the tragedy was caused in part by video games.

Then, reversing himself, last week the VP called for more studies to be done to see if any evidence can be found linking violent video games (whatever that means—Mario using his sledgehammer to hit Donkey Kong?) to real life violence. “Hillicon Valley” recently reported, “While there’s currently ‘no hard data’ that links violent video games to antisocial behavior in kids, Biden said further research should be conducted on the issue.”  Apparently they will keep calling for a study until one produces a result they like. More political grandstanding—more games.

The facts:

  • No scientific research has concluded that there is a link between video games and violence. In fact, the opposite has been concluded, that there is no link between media violence and violent crime.
  • The Washington Post analyzed the 10 largest video game markets around the world and concluded that there was no statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related deaths, even though the same or similar violent games were sold in those markets.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Surgeon General, Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission studied the scientific record and did not find a causal link between violent programming and violent behavior.
  • Violent crime has decreased dramatically during the exact same period of time that video games increased in use.

Blaming video games for the acts of evil people is just a way for policy makers to appear to be doing something. Ironically, it’s the games played in Washington, not in people’s homes, that cause the most harm.


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