Until cooler heads prevail, for the time being we will be living through a war-of-positions on game violence. Despite the absence of empirical evidence linking media violence and real world “effects,” a moral panic atmosphere is rising throughout the U.S. But as this recent essay by Steve Benen points out, nations where people play plenty of violent video games don’t seem to share America’s predilection for mass shootings. Reproduced below is an except from Benen’s article as it appeared on maddowblog.
“Plenty of officials, including folks like Joe Lieberman, have been arguing for years that violent games desensitizes young people to violence and contributes to a larger corrosive effect on the culture.
“There’s just no evidence to support the claims. Hunches and cultural criticisms notwithstanding, there is no science to bolster the contention that gaming and gun violence are connected. (Adam Lanza was reportedly obsessed with “Dance Dance Revolution” — which is a game, as the name suggests, about moving feet, not shooting weapons.)
“But the point I keep coming back to is simple: the United States is not the only country with young people who play a lot of video games, but it is the only country with high rates of gun violence.
“Gaming is a huge cultural phenomenon in countries like South Korea, England, Japan, and Canada — and they’re all playing many of the same games Americans enjoy — and yet, none of these countries comes close to the U.S. when it comes to deadly shootings.
“And why not? Sociologists can speak to the differences in more detail, but I suspect it has something to do with access to firearms. It may seem tautological, but let’s state it for the record anyway: societies with fewer guns have less gun violence, whether they’re playing “Halo” or not.”