Growing up as a girl who had a vast interest in video games was an experience unlike anything else. While my neighbors got to play games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl because of their older brothers, my sister and I were given games like Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour. Don’t get me wrong, I indulged in the more “girly” games, but my parents were always hesitant about getting an Xbox or PlayStation because of “gun violence.”
The video game to mass shooter pipeline is long overdue for debunking, and I know I’m not the only one tired of hearing “video games cause gun violence.” Whenever I hear this, I can’t help but think society is stuck in the ‘90s.
Correlation does not equal causation
Correlation does not equal causation is something that has been said in math classes across America; yet, when it comes to video games and gun violence, people forget.
A majority of mass shootings happen because of multiple recurring issues, including, but not limited to, mental health, the lack of resources dedicated to improving mental health, bullying and a person’s home life. It’s not just one issue; it’s multiple at the same time.
I can see why some people argue that kids have access to video games with violence, but parents have to remember that video games get ratings, just like movies.The Entertainment Software Rating Board — ESRB for short — is a rating system built within the gaming industry. ESRB was founded in 1994 and consisted of only five different ratings back then. Currently, there are seven different ratings along with 30 different content descriptions to help parents better understand why games get the rating they do.
If you as a parent are complaining about kids playing violent video games, then you can buy your kids games that fall into their age range, read the parent tools on ESRB and stop blaming video game developers for not watching what your kids are playing. There are vast amounts of video games that don’t contain violence that you can buy for your kids if you don’t want them to be exposed to such games. Game developers should not have to babysit your kids.
There is always a risk of addiction with any substance or activity. It is important to reflect back on why video game addiction exists, why it has seen a recent increase and how it isn’t as avidly connected to gun violence.
While yes, video game addiction has increased since the 1980s, it mainly has to do with how video games have become a part of mainstream media and how quickly developers are able to produce games. There are, of course, individuals who get addicted to video games, but it only has damaging effects in extreme cases. Even then, the research is more interested in the avenue between mobile games and gambling.
I don’t think that video game addiction connected to gun violence is what should be focused on. More importantly, I think it is good to observe how other addictions play into the gaming community. Recently the streaming platform Twitch banned some gambling on their website. This was because of the streamer Sliker, who scammed not only other Twitch streamers but also fans for money due to a gambling addiction. Should parents really be focused on worrying about video game addiction if their kids were able to watch gambling streams in their free time?
In conclusion, the video game to mass shooter pipeline isn’t relevant in today’s society. If this overdone statement was true, then the world would be in a much worse off place then it’s already in.
Stop blaming video game developers and people who play video games. There are so many games that children can play that don’t involve any violence at all. If you are a parent, take the time to do research on games and pay attention to what your kids are watching and buying because video games don’t cause mass shootings.
Alexandra Carollo is a senior journalism major. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.