House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, says video games lead to future mass shootings (Wu). However, The New York Times reports that there is little evidence to suggest there was any link between video games and mass shootings and youth violence (Wu). Research has shown that violent video games can cause violent behavior in youth, but those studies are exaggerating the results without examining other possible causes. Video games are not harmful, they are helpful because they increase reaction time and cognitive activity. Many gamers will argue that video games serve as an outlet for stress and anxiety, and also creates happiness when they play. Even though some research tries to claim that video games are addictive as a drug, mass shootings are not caused by playing violent video games, there are many other factors that should be considered. Many people in America are convinced by their own assumption that video games are harmful, but in fact, they are not as bad as some people believe.
“More than half of the top 50 selling games contain violence” (“History of Video Games”). Video games are popular with many youths today, but people that are looking for a scapegoat are quick to blame games for violent youth. In 1999, the controversy of video games resurfaced after the massacre of 13 people at Columbine High School. On June 27, 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association that the California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors violated free speech rights (“History of Video Games”).
Violent video games all started with a game called “death race” released in 1976, a game that is about hitting gremlins with a small-pixelated car. People protested the game by burning the machines in the parking lots of the arcades that had them and ceased their existence and manufacture. In 1993, public outcry following the release of violent video games Mortal Kombat and Night Trap prompted Congress to hold hearings on regulating the sale of video games (“History of Video Games”).
Many gamers will argue that the use of video games acts as an outlet for stress, anxiety, and does not create violence. Video game advocates contend that a majority of the research on the topic is deeply flawed and that no causal relationship has been found between video games and social violence (“History of Video games”). Video games have more positive effects on the brain than negative. Studies show video games having a positive effect on attention, visual, and motor skills, but a negative effect that is similar to addiction. Video games allow you to explore and do things you can not in real life without ever having to leave your bedroom. With first-person shooter games, the player usually has to attack and defeat the enemy or reach an objective more times than the opposing team; therefore, players plan, practice, and play. This type of gaming trains the brain to think and process faster. That’s right, video games are not bad as some people claim. In fact, studies show that games can be powerful brain-training tools that can improve such cognitive skills as visual attention, concentration, navigation, multitasking, and task switching while simultaneously increasing speed and accuracy.
Video games are like any other hobby, some people do it for fun, but some are more avid gamers. People that say video games are addictive are most likely referring to studies that show dopamine being released while playing video games. These researchers claim that the addiction is no different than doing drugs, such as heroin because drugs cause a similar reaction. In reality, dopamine is released as a pleasure hormone when one is actively doing something they enjoy (Gray). In further studies, it was discovered that video games have a positive effect on the brain because it helps to develop certain parts of the brain. Most games with violence require a lot of strategy and planning. Playing video games for longer durations can improve regions of your brain that help you to solve problems and make reasonable decisions (Gray). A recent research study by Neuroscientist Marc Palaus states “video games may increase the volume of the right hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, which are involved in spatial memory and navigation” (Gray).
Many factors contribute to mass shootings and violent youth, but violent video games are not one that should be worried about. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, ‘Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively” (Nicholas Wu). The two teenage shooters of Columbine played violent video games so people tried to blame video games, but there was no link to the video games and actual shootings (“History of Video Games”). When it comes to violent behavior you have to look at all of the facts. Everyone is subjected to different lifestyles and environments that affect their personalities and the way they react to events during the course of their lives. Video games are not to blame!
The real truth is that video games may desensitize our brains to violence, but it also allows people to relieve their stress and blow-off anger. Video game advocates argue that violent video games may provide a safe outlet for aggressive and angry feelings, and may reduce crime (“History of Video Games”). Some research will exaggerate to the extent of saying video games are addictive like a drug (Gray). The argument that video games cause violence and mass shootings is over-exaggerated. “If video games do cause youth to be violent, then one would expect juvenile violent crime to increase as more youth play violent video games. Instead, US computer and video game software sales increased 204% from 1994 to 2014, reaching $13.1 billion in 2014, while murders by juveniles acting alone fell 76% and violent crime rates dropped 37% during that same period” (“History of Video Games”).
There is no legitimate proof to show that violence in video games causes violence in youth. California tried to ban the sale of violent video games in 2011 and failed when it went to the Supreme Court and Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “A state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm… but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed”. Meaning you can protect kids from harm by limiting guns and raising the age to be able to purchase weapons, but you can not limit what they see.