Entertainment Industry: The Silent and Subtle Killer?

Virtual Violence in the Real World


Wayne Chan

Violent videogames

Wayne Chan, Editor

In light of the school shooting in Florida that tragically resulted in the death of 17 innocent people, an anxious public and the pressured politicians scramble for legislative action. Some pointed to the weaponry, while others to a destabilized mental state. Kentucky governor pointed to video games as the ultimate origin of this violence plaguing our society: “It’s garbage. It’s the same as pornography. They have desensitized people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency. We’re reaping what we’ve sown here.” Donald Trump criticized video games and movies as the source of violence and plans to meet with representatives of the industry. Other politicians have echoed the same sentiment.

It is not completely absurd to construe such a contention, especially in a political climate where America is so desperate for an answer. However, as someone of high office, one would expect that the Kentucky governor or the president could conduct at least some research before berating the entire entertainment industry. According to CNN, while much conventional research has exhibited indications that violent video games have increased aggressive behavior in teens, more recent and advanced studies show no correlationlet alone causationof such atrocious violence. Whitney Decamp, an associate professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University, stated that evidence from a 2008 study was unable to point to either direction. The link between video games and violence was “insignificant.” In essence, he concluded that video games do not predict aggressive behaviors. Christopher Ferguson, a professor in psychology, concurs with this analysis, even arguing that by indulging in virtual violence, the video games keep potential delinquent youth off the streets and away from trouble. An economic study in 2016 affirmed Professor Ferguson’s contention. The data revealed that after every major popular video games are released, crime rate decreases. This supposedly “violent” endeavor actually serves to deviate people, who would otherwise be criminals, from illegality. Any absentminded research on the internet would unveil mounds of evidence all pointing to the non-existent correlation between the entertainment industry and real-world violence.

This spotlight on violence in video games is not idiosyncratic of the United States, yet routine mass shootings seemingly define the American news media cycles. CNN reported that even though the U.S. makes up an abysmal 5% of the world population, one-third of mass shootings take place in the land of the free. If video games were truly the source of real-life violence, mass shootings would be equally prominent across all nations. American video games and Hollywood films prod into every culture on the planet, yet none of them have experienced these supposed side effects to the same extent. Christian Min (11) speaks from personal experience that “even though [he] plays video games as a hobby and stress relief, [he has] never entertained such violent thoughts or even experienced any inclination to realize virtual violence into physical brutality.”

For politicians to argue this prerogative is a legislative failure and serves only to distract the public from the actual pressing issue of mass shootings. It attributes a senseless blame to an irrelevant industry loosely connected to the tragedies, while diverting attention away from a potential solution. Perhaps the solution lies within gun control, or perhaps the problem lies therein mental instability; however, the most fallacious conclusion is enacting policy against the entertainment industry.