WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Virtual violence and real violence have been linked by politicians and activist groups for decades, the latest occurrence coming when President Trump brought up violent video games as a possible influence in school shootings following the Parkland, Fla. incident that left 17 dead. But numerous studies have failed to prove a connection.
Trump held a closed-door meeting on Thursday with leaders from the video game industry and watchdog groups to rehash the issue. While there is a documented link between violent video games and the level of aggression in players, those players may already be predisposed to aggression from other factors in their lives, and feeling aggressive does not necessarily result in acting violently.
"You can take video games away and it's not going to change anything as far as these types of acts," says video game historian Patrick Scott Patterson. He says the "debate" is merely a deflection tactic pushed by gun lobbyists.
"I have known and do know a lot of people who are gamers and gun owners and they think it's just as preposterous as gamers who are not gun owners."
Global data appears to support the lack of a link as most countries that spend a lot of money on video games have low rates of violent gun deaths. The United States is an exception, and the fact that we're No. 1 in gun ownership (by far) is hard to ignore as a likely factor.
That said, it's still not a bad idea to keep young kids away from violent games, but in this case, the data shows that you can hate the player and not the game!