Ok, dear readers. We don’t normally touch on politics here at PCU, but something has come up that made me want to bring you my thoughts today.
Yesterday, US President Donald Trump held a meeting with folks from the video game industry to “discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children”, as the White House put it. The meeting was closed to all press (shocking, I know), but everything coming out of it is just…unproductive and wrong.
Let’s start with the obvious. First of all (and we’ve talked about this before), there have been studies that show that there is no evidence to support the notion that displays of violence in video games has ANY connection to violent behavior in those who play them. It’s been said by mental health and behavior experts time and again. Read the science.
Secondly – and this is what really got me about the whole meeting, let’s take a look at the attendee list to this meeting about behavior. Around the time of the meeting, journalist Jake Tapper of CNN tweeted out the list of attendees, as you can see below:
What’s wrong with this picture? Don’t see it? Well, I’ll tell you: There’s only ONE person in that entire list who is even halfway qualified to talk about the psychological impact that violent video games has on youth, and his viewpoint has already been made very clear.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is retired military, and a professor of psychology at West Point. Seems legit, right? Well…. only maybe. Lt. Col. Grossman wrote a book back in 1999 called ‘Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence‘, which talks about how “light gun shooter” type games are close enough to what the military uses to train soldiers, that they are able to “train children in the use of weapons and, more importantly, harden them emotionally to the task of murder by simulating the killing of hundreds or thousands of opponents in a single typical video game”.
There’s another inherent problem here… When was the last time you saw or played one of these “light gun shooters” outside of an arcade? Duck Hunt? So, if Grossman’s theory is to be believed, there should now be far more people out there hunting ducks while their dogs laugh at them. This is hyperbole, of course, but C’MON! Light gun shooters have not been common for AGES! How is this sort of data even pertinent to today’s video game content?
I’m not going to sit here and wax political, friends. I don’t want to subject you all to that. What I AM here to say, is that I am a believer in science, empirical evidence, and research. Why bother holding a meeting about a topic like violent behavior, if you’re not going to consult those who work to understand it? Why not look at things objectively, and use the most up-to-date data?
What do you all think of Trump’s meeting with these video game execs and ONE professor? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!