Video games are framed in the mainstream media using two main tropes.
Trope a) “video games turn kids and young adults violent”
Trope b) “video games detach kids from reality”
Both of these notions have been disproved countless times by scholars like Dr. Chris Fergason who said that the link between violent video games and violence itself is factually incorrect. As recently as this month The Top of House Republican blamed video games for the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas during a segment on ‘Fox and Friends’. This is despite the severe lack of evidence supporting the claim.
A similar claim was made after the Sandy Hook shootings in America, where conservative politicians, mainstream media platforms, and the NRA (National Rifle Association) alike were all quick to blame ‘violent video games’ for the tragedy. However the official Sandy Hook report revealed the shooters favourite video game was a dancing one which he played for somewhere between just 4-10 hours.
The scrutiny of video games ignores the fact that a massive 97% of teens play video games and of those the majority prefer games which contain violent content. According to the media’s logic the majority of young teens would be extremely violent.
The motive behind the NRA’s and the right wing politician’s is simply to shift the blame of shootings in America elsewhere. The blame wasn’t always put on the imaginary guns of video games. In fact in 2017 the NRA pointed the finger at Holywood for mass shootings.
For the mainstream media the intent behind the spread of misinformation is to discourage people from playing video games as it eats into the time that people have to watch their content. Around the world mainstream media has consistently blamed video games for violence, “the dehumanisation of people”, sleep deprivation, declining academic skills… and so on.
This idea has been made fun of on digital media platforms like Facebook and twitter…
All this misinformation poses a few risks. The first is the damage that the reputation of academic and scholarly research suffer. The second is that we the people are distracted from the real issues surrounding violence and from actually understanding video games and how to take advantage of their positive uses.
Student at The University of Wollongong