Video games serve as a distraction for gamers, and a distraction for politicians
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Donald Trump often lives in an imaginary world. He lives in an 'alternative facts' world where his crowd sizes are hy-uge, he is a "very stable genius", he made the Winter Olympics a success, the list goes on and on.
It's a happy place for Trump, he likes it there - but it's not the real world. The president would be, in fact, the perfect person for video games. They would offer him the chance to escape from reality for a few hours, ignoring the inconvenient truths of his office.
But he's not terribly keen on them. “We have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it, and also, video games,” he said in a conversation on school safety, “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
The president invited video games executives to the White House to discuss whether there is causality between violence in games and violence in the real world. He was also joined by members of Congress, conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell and a mother from the Parents Television Council to “discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitisation in children", Time reports. The meeting was behind closed doors, and the White House has not released a statement.
The political argument that fictional violence in video games results in real violence is an old one. Forbes calls it "the political equivalent of comfort food", a cop-out that goes nowhere and does not address the problem of mass shootings in America.
Video games can serve as a distraction for gamers, and they are used as a distraction from politicians to avoid the hot-button issues, such as gun control. Trump is using them as a "gun-violence bogeyman" again.
The video game industry has never had the power to effect any change in the epidemic of mass shootings, Macleans argue, because "no definitive proof exists that violence in video games has any effect on this civilised world". Multiple studies have not found a correlation. While video games have soared in popularity and sales over the past 20 years, youth violence has plummeted. They do note one correlation: mass shootings have risen in rough coincidence with the 2004 repeal of the assault weapons ban.
The connection between video game violence and real violence was even investigated by the US Supreme Court in 2011. Delivering the opinion of the court, the late Judge Antonin Scalia said that the studies that “purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children... have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively.”
CNN argues that Trump wants you to think about video games, rather than guns. Washington has tried to enact gun legislation, and failed. The president has hosted meetings on school safety, and no legislation has come out of it. He has failed to be productive in light of the Parkland shooting, and he is pointing in a different direction, away from his broken promises.
The focus on video game violence detracts from the debate over gun control after yet another mass shooting happened on American soil. Donald Trump ought to examine the real world, rather than the imaginary one presented in games, because video games spawn new lives - real mass shootings do not.