Trump is suggesting that violent video games and films are at least partly responsible for the rise and persistence of gun violence in the US.
It’s an argument that dates back to the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
The two Columbine High School gunmen were active “Doom” players. Since the game primarily focuses on shooting a gun ” at demons, in outer space ” commentators suggested that the gunmen had trained for the real-life shooting by playing “Doom.” The game featured a gun as the main point of interaction and perspective ” the “first-person shooter” was a relatively new concept in video games back in 1999 ” and thus arose suspicion.
If these teenage gunmen were playing this game, and capable of committing such a horrific act, what did that mean for all the other kids playing these games?
Doom (original, PC)
The original “Doom” on PC looks rudimentary by 2018 standards. It was one of the first-ever first-person shooter games. id Software/Bethesda Softworks
But there’s a simple reason why that doesn’t make much sense: “The same video games played in the US are played worldwide; however, the level of gun violence is exponentially higher in the US than in other countries.”
That’s according to the Entertainment Software Association, the group that represents major video game industry stakeholders like Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Activision, EA, and others. It’s not surprising that the trade group representing the video game industry feels this way ” but it’s a hard point to argue.
Though first-person shooter games like “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield,” and “Halo” are popular with American video game players, they’re also popular all over the world. The game industry is a global market, with platforms like the PlayStation 4 that serve territories with extremely restrictive gun laws and territories with relatively lax gun laws.
Even though these games are played all over the world, the United States is a standout statistically in terms of gun violence. If violent games were causing violent behavior, it stands to reason that the connection would be more consistent around the world.
Whether or not it’s good for children to be exposed to graphical violence in games, or theatrical violence in movies, isn’t clear. It probably isn’t. What is clear is that playing violent games and watching violent movies doesn’t directly cause violent behavior. We have the evidence to prove it, and it’s staring us right in the face.
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