Violent video game (courtesy
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In the aftermath of the post-Parkland gun control free-for-all President met with the heads of the video game industry. The antis see the move as deflection from the “real” problem of “easy access to guns.” Trump wants you to think about video games instead of guns proclaims. I see it as a non-issue. Or is it . . .

According to the, Lanza’s descent to madness and murder: Sandy Hook shooter notched up 83,000 online kills including 22,000 ‘head shots’ using violent games to train himself for his massacre. My take . . .

Violent video games are a welcome release of aggression for tens of millions of mild-mannered boys, men and some girls and women. I mean, how many children, teens and adults didn’t commit “gun violence” because they could get their aggression out on-screen?

While antis don’t see violent video games as a prophylactic, they share my belief that linking violent entertainment to violent behavior is a non-starter.

“You can’t take violence out of the world,” comic pundit Trevor Noah admits, “What you can do is limit the tools violent people have.”

Really? How? Gun control? Don’t make me laugh. Although I could use a good laugh right about now . . .

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    • But then we’re told that’s bad too…
      A not-insignificant part of the problem as I see it: a generations-long conditioning to make people think that all violence is bad – that there is no such thing as righteous indignation or that “he hit me first” is and should be a perfectly acceptable defense for why your kid clobbered that bully on the playground.
      Discouraging wanton and merciless violence is fine – good even; but to deny our fundamental natures, that we are and have always been a species that sometimes settles our differences with our fists, means we must repress our base instincts to an unnatural degree – and I challenge any psychologist to explain why THAT would be a good thing.
      I think my favorite T-shirt sums it up best: “Violence may not be the best option – But it is still an option”.

        • I was at a barbecue where a bunch of kids were running around with toy guns. All was fine and dandy until one kid tackled another kid and then stuffed his toy gun into the other kids mouth and began taunting him.

          Well that pretty much ended the gun play. Odd thing was the parents of the aggressive kid saw nothing wrong with the whole situation.

          Since then the parents got divorced and the kids older brother got arrested. The dad still drives a truck covered with pro gun and anti liberal bumper stickers.

          Toxic masculinity? Textbook case.

  1. Millions of children train in martial arts yet don’t randomly break people’s necks. Yeah, they actually train in real violence.

    We have kid’s classes at the school I attend. We literally teach children how to snatch someone’s life using nothing but the tools their body comes equipped with and whatever clothing each person might be wearing (improvised weapons, weapons and other more advanced training is only available to those 13+).

    Yet somehow, with millions of kids taught these things every year there are not massive numbers of people being killed or maimed by kids who have martial arts training. No epedemic of school children dying in triangles, rear-nakeds or lawnmower chokes… no epidemic of broken arms, destroyed knees, ankles or wrists due to joint locks… heck no one’s even ending up in a wheelchair due to back cranks!

    Since this is the case I doubt video games have much to do with it either.

  2. My son has been playing FPS games for about 4 years but really enjoys the gaming when we play together as a team. His preferred system is PC with mouse and keyboard controls.

    He thinks games making people violent is complete nonsense. It made him realise how quick he will die in the presence of other armed people. To him the teamwork is the fun part and the games make it possible.

    He has started learning to fly airplanes in BF1942. Likes racing games. And has also tried RPG and real time strategy games too.

    And this is from a 9 year old who appears to be more mature than most teenagers and many adults.

  3. Sorry, Robert Farago, but if you have not read Lt. Col. David Grossman’s book, Assassination Generation, you’re just giving your opinion, which has not basis in fact. I suggest you read the book before making a statement like you did in this article.

    • I have read all of Lt. Grossman’s books as well as his essays. I have also met the man and spoken directly with him. I greatly admire his work, but he’s not always right.
      There is no causation, and not even any widespread correlation to video games and abnormal violent behavior.

      • I agree with jwtaylor, Grossman does seem to make some valid points however misses the mark on others. Listened to his “Bulletproof Mind” series.

        Simply put, people with ill intent don’t get it from video games. People that play “violent” games get a lot of benefits, and quite the opposite get very positive socialization. Team playing is common and works toward building positive relationships and positive cooperation. If anything they are being trained to have a positive viewpoint on action and protecting society. Could it be correlation rather than causation? Of course. It is about a logical as blaming forks for obesity, or guns for gun violence, keep forgetting the human element and we will be doomed to repeat history, more horrific atrocities than today happened before guns were even invented.

        The real issues are how are these young murderers are being consistently alienated from society to the extent they do these atrocities. The central element seem to be schools, how do school environments foment and attract such violent and hateful self destruction acts? Key to all this appears to be a systematic mishandling by administrators, the Sheriff, (as shown by the Broward county Sheriffs department, seriously, Scott Israel need to resign or be dismissed), and FBI failed. Somewhere in there is “mental health professionals” , they seem to be ubiquitous in involvement with these disturbed individuals, so much so it is a reasonable question to ask if they are a cause rather than a solution. Also the media handling of this appears to be part of a cultural feedback look that encourages this type of radical illness.

        Forensic pschologist, Dr Park Dietz makes some interesting points on how the media encourages mass killers, the interview is from 2012 warning CNN what not to do to encourage mass shootings, seems to have encouraged CNN to further use those behaviors:

    • His books present no objective non-anecdotal evidence when it comes to his supposition on violence and video games. I like his work, especially when it relates to the psychological effects of close combat, but he goes off the rails when he leaves his lane and starts talking about what causes violence outside of combat.

      It’s the same tired assumptions that have been made by old people about music, movies, comic books, and D&D.

    • There is no empirical evidence that playing violent video games, seeing violent images, hearing or reading violent stories or accounts of violence will cause a normal person to be more predisposed to commit violent acts. At best, what can be measured in empirical settings is heightened excitement levels which are ephemeral. short-term, and not different from what people experience when they attend sports competitions or music concerts. The mysterious “trigger” that causes people to “snap” is essentially fictional. When people commit violent acts, they do so as a result of a lifetime of learning. Intentionality, which is essential for any meaningful action, is the result of a quite complex cognitive process. Claiming that this complex process is somehow influenced by something as one-dimension as a video game is absurd. This doesn’t stop advocates and mountebanks from politicizing weak correlational inferences and presenting them causal evidence. Because of the inherent complexity of human consciousness and self identity, the intentional commission of a violent act is the product of considerable deliberation. Games may instruct but they do not cause.

    • “Sorry, Robert Farago, but if you have not read Lt. Col. David Grossman’s book, Assassination Generation, you’re just giving your opinion, which has not basis in fact. I suggest you read the book before making a statement like you did in this article.”

      Grossman in a fraud.

  4. There have been violent video games for many years. However, in recent times they have become more and more realistic and gruesome. For 99.9999999% of normal, well-adjusted people, this is not a problem. Perhaps it is possible that for the 0.0000000001% of f*cked up weirdos, these games could be de-sensitizing or triggering.

    Even if that is the case, they in no way should be banned. These games do have age ratings (like movies),parents should ensure that kids are supervised and are not playing these games unsupervised in their basements.

    • I remember a video games shop advising a parent a particular game (rated MA, the highest rating games can have locally) was not suitable for her child (probably about 7 as far as I could tell). She told the shop she will simply buy it elsewhere.

      We can’t have R rated games because computer and video games are seen as being for children, despite many surveys of gamers since the mid 1990s put the average age of gamers closer to 30 than 13. These days the average is more likely to be between 40 and 45 with many generations growing up with gaming and seeing it as just another pastime.

      • In the US , the ESRB rates video games, ‘A’ (for adults only, 18+) seems to be the highest rating. The way things are going though, 18 seems not to be adult enough, at least for guns!!!

    • He used to be really funny before he got picked up by the Daily Show. Jon Stewart used to be funny too before he left the Daily Show.

  5. I dunno. I don’t think a game can make a killer. (Unless we’re talking about the Most Dangerous Game)

    But, I don’t think your point about video games being a “release” for violent behavior anymore than porn can be for sexual behavior. Short term release obviously. But a chomo or rapist isn’t going to not rape someone if they can just do it virtually. Also, there’s certain places porn won’t even go, in those regards, due to the damage getting off to certain things can do.

  6. I don’t think violent video games are a sole cause, but they maybe a factor. It’s said that the military uses them to desensitize recruits. Many spree shooters aren’t flanged up to tight to begin with, so it’s possible the games may be a factor. How much, who knows?
    It’s probably more likely that pervasive bullying drove these guys crazy. Our schools are way too lax dealing with bullying. If a kid is relentless harassed it is easy to imagine him feeling justified striking out at his tormentors.

    • What military are you talking about? They never turned us loose on COD for training. We have simulators but those are mainly for Basic Rifleman Training, rifle “qualification”, and maybe running a few training scenarios we can’t run at the real world training site (like firing from a moving vehicle). There are also simulators for tanks and aircraft and anything else with wheels or wings but the Army (at least when I was in and the unit I was in) never used video games to desensitize us from violence. Mainly we used them just to do useless exercises if we ever even used it at all. Now in Iraq and in MWRs across the US there are gaming tournaments but that’s more of a recreation thing and isn’t a training event. Whoever told you the videogame thing probably also told you they had a stress card in basic….

  7. The problem is not the games alone. It’s the fact that they are being used as a substitute for proper parrental attention. When a kid grows up with no role models in his life other than the latest thug to grace the cover of a GTA game, the results are sadly predictable. Just like booze, video games don’t “cause” violence, they just exacerbate problems created by feminazis.

  8. Violence is in our genetics, as it is in all fauna and flora on this earth. We humans have a false concept of immortality.

    • The truth is that we’re a violent species and that to an extent we enjoy violence (our brain rewards us for it).

      Were both these things not true we wouldn’t be talking about this because we we’d have been extinct long ago.

      People simply don’t want to admit to the truth about the violent animal we are because it would mean admitting things about themselves that they don’t want to think about, nevermind come to terms with.

      • that reminds me of a quote from Stephen King (a$$hole but he does occasionally write something profound) In his novel Cell he wrote that humans didn’t make it to the top of the food chain because we were the fastest, the smartest, or the strongest but because we were the most violent and the craziest being to ever walk the face of the Earth and that all our civilization and all our morals were a façade just one bad day away from crashing down as we give in to our baser urges to kill, maim, or screw anything walking.

  9. Really
    Go out hunting for food.
    Shoot the animal.
    Rip the animal open from ace-chest aka field strip.
    Start a fire
    Roast the beast

  10. Having grown up on video games from The days of arcades & Atari to 2018; games & times have changed. In the 1950’s we would have blamed “Rock & Roll.” Does it cause violence? No, but it desensitize us to it. Adam Lanza had many loose screws. But, 83,000 kills??? Parents, time to turn off the Playstation.

    • The games have changed drastically too. The imagery in them is far different than it was even a decade or so ago. Gore has become commonplace and the ESRB ratings are merely a suggestion.

      I believe it desensitizes people to gore and violence (something many movies and tv shows do too) but this is only a serious problem for the mentally disturbed who will act on their grotesque fantasies perpetuated by the desensitization.

      For an example of how far the gore has gone, look up Darkness II. It is quite gruesome and has a similarity to the psychos shooting places up (the protagonist has a demon inhabiting him).

    • I remember Ozzy and Iron Maiden being blamed for murders in the 80’s. Now, it’s video games. Never mind the fact that we have been taught for generations that we are simply evolved animals and that there are no eternal consequences for our actions.

  11. I read the book “On Killing” a while back. It talked about the very real success US armed forces have had with desensitizing recruits about the idea of killing. Recruits say regularly, “kill, kill, kill!” Targets are designed to be realistic in appearance and motion.

    This desensitization makes the recruits MUCH more effective in battle. Could not ever more realistic computer games achieve similar effects?

    Of course, desensitization to killing helps for personal self defense too. It’s important to visualize defensive actions, including shooting a bad guy.

    And what about the excessive news and politicization of school shooting? Copycat syndrome and all that.

    • “I read the book “On Killing” a while back. It talked about the very real success US armed forces have had with desensitizing recruits about the idea of killing. Recruits say regularly, “kill, kill, kill!” Targets are designed to be realistic in appearance and motion.

      This desensitization makes the recruits MUCH more effective in battle.”

      Grossman is a con artist. Americans had no more trouble slaying in battle than anyone else, and everyone else was eager enough to kill enemies on the battlefield.

      “Could not ever more realistic computer games achieve similar effects?”

      Unlikely, otherwise violent crime rates would have gone up when video games with realistic graphics started becoming prevalent during the 1990s. Instead, crime started falling in the early 1990s and continued to do so until 2014(the Ferguson Effect started then).

      “And what about the excessive news and politicization of school shooting? Copycat syndrome and all that.”

      Definitely that.

  12. Guns murder people. No wait, it was video games, they did it! And that Marylin Manson music, that murders people too!
    And Dungeons & Dragons make Satanists.
    Ban everything.

  13. Its the same non-sense as blaming guns. We all know by now is law enforcement didn’t do THEIR job (with lots of time and evidence available.) and Globalist political agendas at work…Most of this dervies from Left-wing “Social Engineering projects” that have been running amok for sometime now…And I’d say when a kid begins to display psychotic issues…Usually the M.O., it starts with animal abuse, torture, mutilation, and wanton Murder. We need to stop blame items and products for the acts of broken people…

  14. The media will investigate itself and find no wrongdoing…

    This is something that gets me in trouble when I say it to my gamer friends, but: I don’t think games make normal people more violent but I do believe that excessive gaming can be a flag for people with compulsion control issues. Taken to an extreme they can turn criminal and the content portrayed in many games probably doesn’t help there.
    I look at mature games like how we handle porn. It’s not dangerous when consumed by a healthy adult, but you wouldn’t serve it to a developing child or a mental case with obvious screws loose.
    To that end the media’s self regulation provides few actual controls. They want to sell to as large a market as possible and any talk of restriction is heresy. The same people then demand resitrictions on everything from alcohol and guns to other forms of adult entertainment and even toys.
    It’s somewhat hypocritical.

  15. P.S. I’m middle aged and currently enjoying playing Nintendo’s Action RPG Zelda: Breath of the Wild ! Great Lord of the Rings like game!

  16. Glen Beck in his Book Control would love this article. Yeah, you can have all the guns you want, just cannot play any video games.
    I still say 1A and 2A are linked together and if one wing of the predatory vulture pushes elimination of 2A, then the other wing of the predatory vulture pushes elimination of 1A.

  17. Remember the 90’s when the left was all about this shit? Lieberman was up there during Congressional hearings spinning tales of entire generations growing into homicidal mutants because of Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto.

    The same people told us 2 Live Crew was going to turn our daughters into prostitutes and Beavis and Butthead were going to turn our sons into felons.

    For all the grief the religious right got back then over trying to control people the left went full balls to the wall trying to ban, censor and re-write just about every cultural outlet there was.

    Convenient how quickly it’s all forgotten. One wonders why bother learning history at all. Doomed to repeat? More like eager to repeat.

  18. Y’all can flame this all you want but I think the issues we’re seeing are a result of our new “progressive” society removing all manner of struggle from our lives, removing all acceptable uses of violence (i.e. beating down that bully), and our increasing dependence on social media for our validation of self. Sure it’s great that we have programs to help the downtrodden but in that process we’ve made poverty comfortable. Section 8, food stamps, medicare, welfare, and the like all make one very comfortable in their destitution. Our kids have lost the ability to stand up to that bully without totally ruining their grades for the semester. When I was in school back in 2001-2005 the policy on fighting was BOTH participants would receive one week of suspension from school grounds and another week of in school suspension and you WERE NOT allowed to make up any course work missed during that week of suspension from school grounds. The work you did during your in school suspension didn’t get graded and didn’t count for anything. Finally, we’ve become a society who bases their self esteem off of how many likes they can garner on a website. Social media has allowed bullying to move beyond school grounds and beyond school hours while we’ve taken away the ability for our children to physically confront their tormentor. Yet we wonder why teen suicides and school shootings seem more common, there’s only so much a person can take before they lash out or turn to self harm.

  19. If you enjoy video games where you beat people to death with bats, or role play a violent person killing innocent people in graphic ways, then something is wrong. There is no justification for this as entertainment. Not everything that is fun is good. This bears no resemblance to “evil rock’n’roll” of the 60’s or old nintendo games. Middle school boys stay up all night playing these games while they are trying to learn to be a man, and any logical person would know that this would be detrimental.
    I’m not saying this should be banned. People should be free to do what they want, as long as they only affect themselves. You can watch porn every night and ruin intimacy with your wife. You can drink yourself to death or out of a job. You can vicariously be the worlds worst sadistic serial killer for hours upon hours in front of your TV. But don’t think it doesn’t hurt you in some way.

  20. Does the impossibly-nice rack on that character cause rape? No? Well, then I doubt the equally-vivid violence (which isn’t violence since there aren’t living beings involved) has a similar effect.

    If it did, we’d be hearing of soldiers in China, Russia, the US, and little kids in Africa.being forced to play COD until they become pitiless killing machines. Instead we hear XBOX is popular wherever people are bored, sandbox or suburb.

  21. I think for the vast majority of people the tipping point between the violence they are exposed to and what they actually do is governed by a strong sense of being capable (whether consciously or not) of recognizing what is best for their own “self-interest”. This is an innate sensibility [so, do not infer I am positing some notion of cold calculation] related to the survival instinct. A variant of the “fight or flight” instinct.

    A small few of us cannot make the same distinction as the far, far greater majority. In a population of over 330 million, this is to be expected and the actual number is statistically so tiny as to be remarkable. People use video games, motion pictures, television, sports and other media to vicariously experience violence, and I believe the exposure to these media releases personal tension and reinforces the motivation to conduct oneself peaceably.

    Elsewhere in this World we see violence in Human actions running amok. Yet here in the U.S., with easily upwards of hundreds of millions of firearms, and other “weapons” of all kinds literally in the millions, the greatest majority of people live peaceably and do no harm to anyone else. Maybe asking the question, “What causes violent behavior and how can we stop it?” is asking the wrong question. Maybe the better question is to ask, “What keeps Americans at peace with each other and how can we expand that?”.

    Just sayin’…

    • “Maybe the better question is to ask, “What keeps Americans at peace with each other and how can we expand that?”.”

      The unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms is at the core of a people being at peace in a society. Otherwise, there are minor tyrannies and greater tyrannies daily. Most of those prone to violence that lack self control will undoubtedly be rendered inert rather quickly in a well armed society where people take responsibility for their own safety.

      The problem with extremely violent people who lack self-control is that they live too long these days. There ends up too many of them. The herd needs natural culling.

  22. I think TTAG should be able to see the true intention behind examining violent videogames as a source of violence; erasing gun culture.

    With movies or shows a character uses guns. With video games you use guns and you get to make choices on which ones you use and you get to know the characteristics intimately over the course of the game. Because of the connection that is created between the player and the tools used in the game many people become interested in real guns and may be drawn to positive gun culture.

    This is obviously a phenomenon anti-gun people do not want to continue. They believe guns Inherently make people violent. When they say videogames make people violent they skip over the middle step, a healthy interest in guns. Only those predisposed to violence will seek out violent media and guns and then actually act out in a violent way, the vast majority of people will use violent media and guns and not carry out violent acts.

    • “I think TTAG should be able to see the true intention behind examining violent videogames as a source of violence; erasing gun culture.”


      I was into firearms and individual rights long before I got involved in FPS video games (I am an older player). Through some games, I have actually learned more about certain firearms and accessories that I cannot afford to purchase than I could have learned without the games.

      Additionally, I have introduced countless young people to the notion of the unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms over the years through interaction on these games (game chat). Quite a few have been from foreign countries and some still drop a line every now and again telling me how they are doing. All are still 100% POTG as adults. Some are raising their own children and teaching them about individual liberty.

  23. The possibility of a link between violence in literature (in all forms, such as video games) and violence in life is intuitively appealing. We can’t dismiss out-of-hand the possibility that those on the bell-curve tail toward acting-out on their violent tendencies might be pushed a bit further-out by video games. Though the effect might be statistically small, the impact might be disproportionate. If it were so it would explain how it is that the overwhelming majority of predominantly normal people are not affected (not enough to act-out) by their use of video games no matter how intensive.

    What is the best we can make of this issue?

    SCOTUS insists that the 1A is to be protected absolutely at all costs; even if there is a cost of the public suffering violence as a consequence of video games. If this is good law then the principle applies. Though the pen is mightier than the sword, it is so overwhelmingly important that we protect pen, ink and speech even at arguable substantial costs to public safety.

    That principle extends to quartering troops, security of your homes and papers, double-jeopardy, and so forth. And it most certainly applies to the right to defend life through the keeping and bearing of arms.

    By all means, let’s encourage research into video games and violence and inform parents accordingly. Let’s encourage research into actual violence using arms, cutlery and clubs and inform parents accordingly. That something simply MUST BE DONE it does not follow that that something may contradict Constitutional rights, not speech, not quartering, not searches and seizures.

  24. This violent video-game issue is an interesting example of the general question of how societies ought to regulate themselves.

    Throughout the history of civilization societies have struggled with how – if at all – they should regulate “good” or “evil” influences. Which social institution should control each influence? Church? State? Secular organizations (e.g., guilds or unions)? Or, should our society (each society must work this question for itself) simply leave the matter alone?

    Due to it’s peculiar evolution, the society comprised of the United States of America decided that the matter of religion ought to be left to each individual to resolve for himself and his children; government was forbidden to “establish” any conclusion.

    Violence is certainly an influence usually for evil yet often – in the defense of the society as a whole or for any individual within it – violence is a qualified good. What are each of the independent influences that have some effect on violence as a dependent variable? It’s really difficult to say; no doubt there are many.

    Even if a society COULD conclude (whether rightly or wrongly) that some independent variable had a significant influence, there would remain the question of what the State ought to do to regulate that influence. Suppose – purely hypothetically – we determined that Protestantism or Papism had a good and evil influence on violence, respectively (or vice versa)? Does it immediately follow that the State must step-in to establish one religion and forbid the other?

    Our intuition ought to be guided by our principles adopted in our Constitution(s). In this hypothetical scenario we ought to refrain from using our social institution of the State to implement a policy that follows from our conclusion.

    Likewise, our intuition in this case – video games relating to violence – ought to be the same. Our social institution of the State ought to refrain from implementing any policy – neither to repress nor to promote video games – for to do so runs contrary to the principle of freedom of speech and the press.

    Moreover, we can’t be entirely sure that the influence in promoting capability for violence is necessarily a good or evil one. Perhaps the influence is good for society in maintaining its defensive violent capacity just as it has an evil influence in promoting offensive violence.

  25. Did Noah’s staff have to pay the 15 people in the audience to laugh and clap? Lame-O.

  26. First Trump alienates the OFWGs by embracing gun control. Now he is alienating the young by attacking video games. Next week is he going to grab another pussy? WTF is he smoking.

  27. “didn’t commit “gun violence” because they could get their aggression out on-screen?”

    To be fair, psychological research suggests that acting out violence through video games does not allow catharsis and in fact that the notion is counter-intuitive. Repeatedly engaging in the simulation of a behavior ingrains it more in you head rather than letting it get out of your system. Playing aggressive games or engaging in aggressive sports does increase overall aggression but not necessary violence according to all the research I’ve heard about and read. I’ve also heard interviews on the subject with aggression experts studying the issue. The most recent interview on the subject was very clear about the fact that there is no direct causal relationship between video games and violence. Someone already prone to violence will be affected by playing violent games different than someone who is otherwise in a health mental state. Literally millions of people play violent video games every single day and will never commit any violent crimes let alone a mass murder.

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