Game Theory: Do Video Games Cause Violence? It's Complicated.May 31, 2021
whenever we see the news talking about
games these days, it seems like it's always the same in the two decades since Columbine
games have been at the center of controversy surrounding gun
violencein America, particularly video
games. violent and have experts and some parents. alarmed, this includes the gruesome and gruesome video
gamesthat are now commonplace; So again, this type of alarm is nothing new. The role of early 90's VHS tape can hit your opponent's head with blood and electronic guts. The game is called Mortal Kombat one of the most popular video games going there makes you want to go out and beat someone up after watching this game tell me the truth yes the more things change the more they stay the same but to be fair, our counter arguments in the early 90's were exactly the same too. so you know it's time to change the conversation and that's my goal with today's episode to move beyond this style of argument he said she said this topic c has been mired for decades instead we should Getting to the real story, the scientific fact, do video games really make people more violent? from the physics of Mario to the lore of haunted chuck-e-cheeses, yes I know some people take these episodes too seriously and it's especially hard if I'm talking about I don't know your favorite hero and calling him evil. time, but in truth, it's all for dumb fun at the end of the day, whether Phoenix Wright is breaking the law or not, and his pursuit of justice just doesn't matter and, by the way, it was a terrible episode.
Very sorry. Anyway, the bottom line is this show is meant to be entertaining first and foremost with some education. I was lucky to have parents and teachers who excited me to learn, but many others are not so lucky. So if through this little web series here I can interest you in the way a computer works by talking about the creator of Mario or teaching us something about gravity and astronomy through the lens of Minecraft, well that's great. , you had fun, you learn a little and everything. The world is a bit more of a positive place be
causeyou saw a video, but today, for all the stupid and weird stuff we talk about on this show, what we're talking about really matters, in fact, it's more relevant now than ever. . making video games make the people who play them more violent and there is a connection between video games and the problem of gun
violencein America since the 1990s several politicians have cited video games as the main contributor to the mass shootings that are in the headlines over and over again. and now the president is even denouncing it so i wanted to do an episode on it so we can get a definitive answer once and for all and see that that is the issue in this debate you have two sides that are so entrenched in their respective answer that no one bothers to stop and investigate on the one hand, there are people who are so convinced that it must be the media we are consuming that is causing this aggression that they are eager to point the blame there be
causethey are prejudiced against gaming, they don't get them, but on the other hand, there are people like me, people who grew up playing video games, where our knee-jerk reaction is like no, duh, I play video games.
I know a lot of people who play video games and we're not violent the problem with that is it's not actual proof it's a small amount of anecdotal evidence it's important to recognize that everyone's brains work differently we are biased on this as well debate because we are eager to defend this thing that we love that represented our childhood neither side is having a conversation because we are both so sure that we are right what I want more than anything is what I hope all of us want and th That is the truth If video games have no connection to real world violence, I want to have done my homework and have the receipts to prove it and then be able to show those receipts to other people who claim otherwise, on the other hand, if I had to. find conclusive causal evidence that such video games, our mind warping, make us more prone to violent impulses and make us less sensitive to violence, then I want us to hear that hard truth, it will suck, yes, but it will be important to us. know because we can start to find a solution from there and it's not me trying to get political or anything.
I don't care if you are someone who strongly believes in gun ownership rights or the exact opposite at the most basic level. I hope we are all united in this same goal of trying to find the source of the fault and how to correct it so fewer people get hurt and die, it's as simple as that and if video games are to blame then great, at least now we . know that and now we can start fixing it at the end of the day. I don't want my son to grow up in a world where he feels like he has to be on guard for people trying to hurt him at school at church at Walmart to be clear my goal today is not to propose any kind of political solution. .
I'm not qualified to do that at all, but just to share some cold hard facts, the scientific research done by reputable institutions brought to you and as unbiased as possible. the work I've done for this episode has looked at the subject from three separate angles number one examining the links between video games and crime number two looking at the profiles of many shooters and the role video games played in their lives and number three exploring the The psychology behind video games and how they affect our perspective on violence is now true or if you can't tell by now, this won't be my happiest episode of game
theory, but it's certainly one of our most important.
We start with angle number one. Are we going to see the links between video games and crime? To start, we need to talk a bit about the history of some of the most controversial and violent video games. causal link between displayed violence and video games and users become more violent in their daily lives then we would expect to see increases in violence brought about by some of the most popular violent video games ever and there are definitely some very early video games that had themes violent if we want to talk about real or actual violence that became popular in the mainstream whereas we would probably have to look here at the early 90s and mortal kombat which was released in 1992 as well as Wolfenstein 3d and doom in 1992 and 1993 from then on we've seen a lot of other violent video games get a bad press like grand theft auto series, call of duty series battle arena things like that but mostly part the availability of violent video games it's been pretty consistent since the mid '90s.
Now this graph you see right behind me shows us the growth of games, both In terms of the sheer number of games sold per year as well as the number of titles released per year and unsurprisingly both started to take off here in the mid 90's with platforms like the PlayStation on the Nintendo 64 really rising in popularity and then they exploded in the 2000s when they really peaked and everything started to wind down. going back here to the mid-2010s when smartphones and mobile gaming became more popular, but it's pretty clear that if the real rise of video games that would include violent video games happened between the mid-1990s and 2010, well, if they're influencing people to commit more violence in real life, crime statistics should show similar growth during those same periods, but when you look at the data, it's the opposite of what happened, the murder rate in the United States actually. and peaks in 1980.
Pac-man fever really took hold of people's minds in rage mode, but starting in the early 1990s, those rates declined from 1991 to 2016. Homicides in the US not just homicide we're talking about here we're talking about all the major categories of crime across the board, assault, robbery, rape, they've all gone down by at least 30% since 1991, the idea of that the popularity of video games, which again weren't really anything commonly played until around the 1990s has contributed to making the United States a more violent society in general, just doesn't show up in these kinds of statistics . No, maybe you think that since young people are the ones who tend to play the most. video games that youth crime statistics would actually show the real impact of violent video games on our minds, but those statistics actually seemed pretty similar, the number of violent crimes committed by 12- to 17-year-olds has plummeted since those early days in the 90s at a rate about 1/5 of what it was at its peak, so the overall data seems to tell us that crime is not getting worse even though someone watching the news today thinks that it's worse than ever and that's probably less because crime in general is getting worse and more because mass shooting incidents have become bigger, more prominent and more impactful in the media exactly what constitutes a mass shooting creates a lot of disagreement is surprisingly hard to define since everyone comes up with their own definition to submit the stats they want to test for, but in general l think a fairly common definition is that a mass shooting involves an incident in which a shooter kills at least four people in a public place.
In that case, from 1982 to 2006 there were about 1.6 mass shootings per year, but in the years since 2006, it's actually more than tripled, to 25.4 per year to put that statistic in another way. and from 1949 to 1998 there were 9 mass shootings in the US in which at least 10 people were killed, so that ends up being one every five years in the last 20 years, while there have been 18 shootings in which people were killed while least 10 people, which translates to one per year five years per year in the same way, although the homicide rate has decreased, the percentage of homicides committed with firearms has increased steadily and reached 73 percent in 2016, so maybe the question we should be asking is not if video games are making our society as a whole more violent, but if they are causing select individuals in that society to suddenly snap and decide to become mass shooters like I said at the start. from this episode everyone's brains work totally differently very well 19 9.9% society might not be affected at all by violence and video games all it takes is one Only one person has a bad reaction to what they're playing, so the second angle we need to take a look at this issue is what kind of role video games have played in the lives of mass shooters of the past, perhaps the most famous , the two 1999 Columbine shooters, both were fans of the first-person shooter Doom who possessed the elemental shooter from Sandy Hook. a lot of video games as they were registered like Left 4 Dead Rising Grand Theft Auto and there was a Norwegian shooter that I know focused on us. shooters but needed to pull out as many data points that he could reasonably research back in 2011, he claimed that playing Call of Duty actually helped him aim and acquire targets, both abilities he used during his attack now to make sure some mass shooters are fans of video games, but you can't just take these few examples and build a causal connection there, especially since you could list many other tragedies where those shooters didn't have strong ties to video games, in fact, of the 18 incidents I listed above that had the most out of 10 deaths, my research actually tells me that only four of those shooters actually had noticeable gaming habits, there are many explanations for that, but it all lines up with the report issued by the Secret Service in 2002 that only 12% of school shooters expressed some sort of interest in violent video games now you could probably argue r that interest in video games is a statistical coincidence given that m Most mass shootings are actually committed by young men and 72% of men under the age of 30 play video games. 58 percent of men ages 30 to 49 also played video games.
It's not so surprising that young men who do bad things also happen to share habits with other young men who don't do bad things other young men in their same demographic other traits these shooters share breathe oxygen eat food wear clothes but to say that seems ridiculous right I don't see anyone attacking the denim industry. Because these shooters used to wear jeans, it seems that video game opponents are mixing correlation with causation now, as far as Norwegian terrorists claiming that video games are.shots made him much more effective in his shots, those claims may have had some foundation if they hadn't been redacted over the years.
In 2014, a study was published that found that people who played shooters got more headshots in real-world target practice by a wide margin, but that study was retracted because the results could not be replicated. by outside researchers or the original researchers who ran the experiment in the first place, regardless of whether there's still more evidence that makes me think that video games aren't the culprit variable in our gun violence epidemic here, America isn't the only one in your consumption of video games, compare it to other nations with great gaming cultures, although we are unique in the amount of gun violence we have.
The numbers absolutely back us up. us. is number one in money spent on video games per year, the rest of the top ten include China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Canada, Spain and Italy, now China does not publish statistics on gun violence, but the rest do. they do and if you compare firearm homicides and adjust for population size the united states actually has more firearm deaths per year than the other eight countries combined these countries are not immune to mass shootings but it is It's terribly hard to believe that our video game consumption is to blame for gun violence in America when other nations using those same games that are popular don't have anywhere near the same problem, but I'm still willing to consider the possibility that Violent video games can be harmful, especially since the Both the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have spoken out against video games. violent video games, so video games make us more violent in the long run or perhaps they are desensitizing us to real world violence by simulating such graphic and often realistic behavior. in-game violence, well there are many and I mean many studies done on this topic, the connection between playing video games and bullying and many of them actually show a positive correlation between the two.
However, the problem here is that there are too many media outlets here. Hey, this study shows a connection between video games and aggression, but they don't fully understand the report or talk about the limitations. of those types of studies to show you what I mean, we have to think about how these types of studies are conducted, for example, how would you assess aggression in the first place? These tests have to be ethical, after all, you can't just give videos to kids. games and then ask them to act out shooting things, so aggression markers in these types of tests are things like whether the subject would be willing to subject his opponent to loud noise or offer him hot sauce for some kind of advantage in the look of the game.
I'm not saying these findings aren't eye-opening, but it's pretty hard to extrapolate someone's willingness to give someone else spicy food on the assumption that the Now, suddenly, you're more likely to shoot someone with a real-world weapon. . I mean that's a huge exaggeration. It is already an exaggeration to say that giving them spicy food is aggressive behavior. hungry maybe they just like spicy food another problem here is that findings that are statistically significant are not necessarily statistically impressive when a study finds that there is a correlation between two things being tested that correlation is measured as a value out of one negative and one positive now, a zero value would say that the two variables have no relationship with each other, while a positive value would indicate that one predicts the other, so a positive correlation of point three, for example, would mean that one thing predicts another by a little while something like a seven point positive correlation means that one thing strongly predicts another guaranteed positive.
C X Y is 100% going to happen now when it comes to our video game use case violent behavior none of the studies I saw that claimed to show any level of connection between violent media and future behavior or immediate aggression seemed to correlate further of a positive 0.3 which means that studies can sometimes indicate a correlation, but even in the best of cases it's a very weak level of correlation and that's not to mention the conflicting studies that contradict everyone I just mentioned or the psychologists who write entire articles and articles that talk about how far-fetched the idea that video games cause violent aggressive behavior can be gets confusing trying to figure out which findings are more valid which researchers may have conflicts of interest which ones are only presenting weak findings because they have to published to keep their jobs, but for me one of the analyzes sis more revealing of the state of psychological research on this topic.
Optical violence in video games actually comes from an unexpected source. The Supreme Court of all places, in a 2011 case titled Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the Supreme Court ruled that a California law that prohibited the sale of certain video games to children was unconstitutional and they struck down that law with a 7 to 2 vote majority opinion written by the court stated this quote psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to become behave aggressively, any demonstrated effect is small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other means.
End of quote. What's really encouraging about that message is that that majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative members of the court, but was co-signed by one of the most liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor Lo. One thing to say with this is when you look at gun violence it doesn't have to be a partisan issue sure Supreme Court justices shouldn't be part of any political party but with how divisive they get discussions about gun violence. it's important to remember that looking at the research and deciding what is and isn't backed by solid scientific data is not a matter of politics, it's a matter of caring about the truth above and beyond everything else, back to the cow and that's one of my actual takeaways from researching this episode the need for us to be able to put politics aside when we're looking at these kinds of issues there's a reason i haven't made this video in the last eight years of doing
theoryof games and that's because I was afraid of what I would find.
I was afraid that the investigation would lead me to a conclusion that I was afraid to tell you about and believe me, there is still a lot more in the gaming community that we need to worry about. how v Video games may be shortening our attention span or how certain mechanics and video games may be related to problem gambling. There is still a lot more out there that people can point to video games and say they are not a good influence, but in this case the fact remains that there is very little strong causal evidence to suggest that video games are more likely to make people commit violence or that playing video games makes people more violent.
It is important for us to remember, regardless of your political position. about guns, video games or whatever it is that we all want the same, safer and less violent future for ourselves, for our children and for our country, just as I had to put aside some of my preconceived notions about video games to investigate this episode. We are not going to find any solution to the problem of gun violence in this country if we only listen to the things we want to hear. I believe decisions based on nonpartisan investigative data are what matters. This will help us have a chance to make that happen.
It's not about emotions, it's about facts. I will do my best to keep an open but critical mind. If any findings show us the way forward, I encourage all of you to do the same. not so much a theory as a recommendation a game theory recommendation thanks for looking and for keeping an open mind
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