Some myths have more lives than cats and Mario combined. That’s the way plenty of us feel whenever we see someone blaming video games for every new armed atrocity that shocks the world. Look, we get it, computer games are an easy target. It’s far easier to blame them for somebody acting violently than it is to confront the tangled, messy, complex web of interrelated reasons and crappy gun control policies that’s actually at fault. But it doesn’t mean that we should power down our critical thinking, just because we want easy answers.
Donald Trump, the President of the United States, and other politicians recently used video games as a scapegoat to (at least in part) explain the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. However, the internet quickly reacted with a whole slew of gaming memes that hit back against this idea.
Bored Panda collected the best of the best, the crème de la crème, of the best memes showing how even the most violent games don't cause actual violence. Upvote the ones you love the most and leave a comment to let everyone know what you thought of the memes. Keep on scrolling, because the memes at the very bottom of the post get lonely sometimes (just don’t feed them after midnight)!
Professor Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute told Bored Panda that “the idea that violent video games cause real-world aggression has been with us for more than four decades but in this time there has been no convincing evidence that supports it.”
“I’d observe that video games with combat, crime, and war are quite popular in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the U.K., and these countries do not have the same problems with large numbers of shootings,” noted Przybylski, who is an experimental psychologist and Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute. His work is concerned with applying psychological models of motivation and health to study how people interact with virtual environments.
When asked by Bored Panda why he thinks video games keep getting blamed for violence, Przybylski answered that “research indicates that about half of the adult U.S. population plays games, I suspect that as this number rises (i.e., gamers age) this excuse will hold less water.”
The professor also mentioned that video games “might” desensitize people to violence, “but the effects are likely smaller and more nuanced than many assume.”
“I think that games are a complex form of play and that gaming companies should share their data with independent researchers; not because games cause violence, but because they are now an essential part of our lives. It’s their responsibility to our society as good corporate citizens,” Professor Przybylski added.
Image credits: realDonaldTrump
On the 5th of August, Trump condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy”, as well as video games for the most recent deadly shootings in the US.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” said Trump. “It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence." The 3rd and 4th of August were bloody days for the US: a gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas on Saturday; while another attacker killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday.
Trump wasn’t the only one stating that video games had something to do with the shootings, however. House Minority Leader and California Republican Kevin McCarthy shared similar thoughts: “But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others — I've always felt that is a problem for future generations and others. We've watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals. When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others."
McCarthy may have a point about people getting slightly desensitized to violence through consuming media, but it’s unclear what specific studies McCarthy referred to. The general consensus among the academic community is that there is no established link between playing video games and acting violently.
Furthermore, video games are played all across the globe, and yet, it’s only the United States that has so many instances of gun violence. In 2018 alone, there were 340 mass shootings in the country. 340! 3-4-0!!!
According to CNN, the US also has 57 times more school shootings than “other major industrialized” countries do, combined. Since 2009, the US has had more than 288 school shootings; Mexico is in second place with 8. Clearly, some other factors are to blame for American shootings, not Call of Duty. Hence, why the internet’s very best meme-engineers started working overtime to satirize the very notion that Game Boys and PlayStations create murderers.