March 20, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Video-games and gun violence
Jared Nieuwenhuis’ defense of the video-game industry contained many useful reminders [“Don’t blame gun violence on the video-game industry,” Opinion, March 18].
Not all video games, for example, are violent. And games are now being explored as tools for supporting learning, problem-solving or civic engagement.
The main problem is his statement that “There is no scientific proof that links video games and violent acts among people.” This is the same smoke screen used by cigarette-harm deniers historically and climate-change deniers currently. The problem is that science doesn’t “prove” things — as Nieuwenhuis presumably knows.
But we needn’t look too long or hard if it’s scientific evidence that we’re looking for. A 2010 meta-study in Psychological Bulletin by Anderson et al., for example, indicates that violent video-game playing increases aggressive thinking and decreases “prosocial” behavior. Moreover, heavy players are more likely than other people to believe that people in the real world are aggressive and are more likely to favor violent “solutions” to problems they face.
People are affected by school, family, peers and, presumably, everything else. We should be completely astounded if exposure to violent video games was uniquely unable to influence. What to do about this issue is unknown. But we gain nothing through willful ignorance.
– Douglas Schuler, Seattle
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