The Blame Game


The argument of violence being provoked by gaming has always been an interest of mine as a ‘gamer’ myself, for if this notion was true…am I at risk of losing my grip on reality, am I doomed to one day descend into madness? Are we all just ticking time bombs?

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reasons that children learn by observing, mimicking, and adopting behaviours — a basic principle of the social learning theory. Although in saying this while research conducted in controlled environments has found links between playing violent games and short-term increases in ‘aggression’, ‘hostility’, or ‘anti-social behaviour’ there has been no evidence confirming video games as being the ‘trigger’ to acts of violence.

Chris Ferguson has stated that ‘many studies on the issue of media violence rely on measures to asses aggression that don’t correlate with real-world violence…many are observational approaches that don’t prove cause and effect’.

It seems that whenever violent crimes are committed (mainly gun related) are being blamed on video games. Though it appears whenever you read an article about one of these incidences with gaming ruled as the main ‘culprit’ little is said about other factors such as:

  • Family dysfunctions
  • Mental instability
  • Neglect
  • Bullying
  • Abuse
  • Alcoholism

In 2013, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis opened fire in the US Navy Yard, leaving 13 dead and once again gaming was blamed. It was reported that he spent countless hours playing military type games such as ‘call of duty’. This caused an onslaught of articles sporting headlines such as Washington DC Navy Yard shooter ‘obsessed with violent video games’. Although through further investigation it was found that he had:

  • Anger management issues
  • PTSD
  • Struggling with mental health, hearing voices
  • Past history involving gun related incidences

So if these facts have been uncovered why do we continue to focus on blaming video games? Shouldn’t we ask why he was cleared to buy a gun? How he obtained access to the navy yard? And why was he not receiving treatment?

Below is the data for video game spending per capita and gun-related homicides in the world’s 10 largest video game markets and what it should look like if there was a link.

Though gaming may be a minor factor, no mentally stable person would walk out their door after playing GTA and decide ‘today is the day I kill.

It’s comic books, it’s TV, it’s rock and roll, and it’s video games. All have taken their turn to play the villain, although perhaps its time we stop the shooting in the dark looking for excuses and start looking for the true issues and source of the problem.



Fisher, M 2012, Ten-country comparison suggests there’s little or no link between video games and gun murders, the washington post, viewed 22 march 2013

Violent video games and young people, 2010, Violent video games and young people, Harvard Mental Health Letter, viewed 22 march 2014

FoxNews, 2013, DC gunman obsessed with violent video games, reports say, viewed 22 march 2014
Parco,N 2013, Video Games Are Not to Blame for Mass Shootings, Huffington post, viewed 22 march 2014
<>Allan,N 2013,’ Aaron Alexis: Washington navy yard gunman ‘obsessed with violent video games’, Telegraph, viewed 22 march 2014

Ferguson, C.J 2013, Don’t Blame Video Games for Real-World Violence, Chronicle of higher education, viewed 22 march 2014
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