Chart of the Day: Video Games and Firearms

There's evidence suggesting that violent video games don't really lead to mass shootings and other firearm-related homicides. As I noted in today's column, Germany, Japan, Australia, the UK, France, South Korea and the Netherlands all spend more per capita on video games than the U.S., but the rate of gun violence is significantly lower in those nations. Much lower.

In graph form (click to enlarge):

Click to enlarge.

There was also a discussion about this lack of correlation on yesterday's edition of The Cycle:

Regardless of whether there's evidence of a connection, I always get a little uncomfortable when we start talking about censoring the arts. Certainly we can do more to keep violent material out of the hands of children (and irresponsible parents, too), but that's where it has to end -- no matter how much I personally dislike the realistically violent war games and so forth.

In fairness, however, here's a study showing that video games make teenagers more aggressive (if that's possible). But there's nothing in the study that correlates gaming with the kinds of gun violence we've been witnessing here.

(h/t Karin Riley Porter)

  • D_C_Wilson

    Yes, let’s censor the arts, because the 1st Amendment is not as important as the 2nd.

    Is it actually possible to have an adult discussion with conservatives about the 2nd Amendment? And I mean the entire amendment, including the words “well-regulated”, because we haven’t been regulating things well for a long, long time.

  • muselet

    Analysis showed that teenagers who played violent video games over a number of years saw steeper rises in their aggression scores during the study.

    Key words: “over a number of years”. In other words, long-term exposure to violent images is linked to more aggressive behavior in teens.

    Lead researcher Professor Teena Willoughby said: “The current study is the first to demonstrate a relation between sustained violent video game play and the progression of aggressive behaviour.

    “It is clear that there is a long-term association between violent video games and aggression.

    “This is an important and concerning finding, particularly in light of the hours that youth spend playing these games.”

    Again, key words: “long-term association”.

    Also, this is “the first [study] to demonstrate a relationship”. I don’t doubt there is a relationship, but the science nerd in me says not to get too worked up over this until someone else replicates the results.


  • muchrejoicing

    I have started calling anyone who doesn’t want new gun laws Assault Weapon Advocates. It’s short and catchy, and gets people to think.

  • Dawn Behm

    Hey Bob!
    I am not arguing with your position here. I just would like some clarification on the data. I wonder if the researchers took a careful look at the TYPE of video games played in each country and the percentage of them that were the violent shoot ’em up types. My husband who works for Valve software taught me that when they ship their video games to Germany and other foreign countries, THEY HAVE TO EDIT THE GAME to meet the country’s standards. Germany in particular has standards of showing no blood and other grisly stuff. My husband assumes this is a backlash to the country’s grisly history of violence and genocide in the 1940s.
    My questions are:

    Are the video games in these countries THE SAME as the ones played here?

    Do the gamers in those countries choose the same violent games, or are they more likely to play collaborative or puzzle based video games? Which games do they play?

    I don’t have the answers, but in order for this chart to be truly valid and useful for drawing conclusions, these questions really need to be addressed.

    BTW, it’s fun to read your stuff. Haven’t seen you since that trip to Florida in college with Tim and Tracy!
    Dawn Behm

    • Germany bans some games, usually because of Nazi references or EXTREME violence, but they are legal to import and play for persons over 18.

      But the counterpoint to all this: Japan. Japan is full of extremely violent media (though they do censor porn), and there aren’t these problems. France doesn’t censor or ban games at all, as far as I know.

      Still no evidence to support the video games/violence connection. And most of the studies about aggression shows that competitive games increase aggression, which isn’t surprising because competition always breeds aggression.

      On an anecdotal note, I’ve played violent games since there were violent games. I went to preschool dressed as Freddy Krueger. My parents have always allowed me to watch the most violent, fucked up horror movies, and I still cried at Toy Story 3. The link just isn’t there between violent media and violent acts like Newtown or Columbine.

      Now… our violent culture of 12 major wars in 236 years of existence, THAT might have something to do with it. The fact that our national anthem references fucking bombs exploding. The fact that war is glorified and we seem to enjoy torturing real, life, non-video game people, that might all play a role.