Ohio Professor Says Videogames Alone Don't Cause Shootings

Ohio Professor Says Videogames Alone Don't Cause Shootings

Scholars argue how much of an effect videogames have on violent behavior and how they impact other contributing factors.

Following the events of the Navy Yard shooting, media outlets were quick to examine how violent video games can cause violent behavior. In an op-ed written on CNN, Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, says videogames cannot be the sole factor driving violent actions.

"The problem is that people are looking for a yes-or-no answer about the role of videogames in violence, when there is none," Bushman wrote.

After the Navy Yard shooting, The Telegraph reported shooter Aaron Alexis was "obsessed with violent video games." Fox News began a two-part series linking videogames to mass murder, and Fox & Friends host Elizabeth Hasselback suggested the government monitor game purchases.

"No doubt, most players don't become violent," Bushman said. "That's because they come from good homes, aren't victims of bullying, don't have mental health issues, and don't have many of the other risk factors for violence." However, Bushman goes on to reference his own study in which college students played violent videogames for 20 minutes each day for three days. Bushman reports they became more aggressive.

Today Christopher Ferguson, chair of the psychology department at Stetson University, wrote an op-ed piece in reply to Bushman. Ferguson argues research linking violent video games to aggression has been inconsistent and methodologically flawed, according to the Supreme Court. "[Bushman] extends [his] research to imply that mass shooters may be more accurate due to playing videogames. This also, to me, seems a considerable overreach," Ferguson wrote.

"Making big claims about video games contributing to societal violence runs two risks - damaging the credibility of the scholars who make such claims, and distracting us from real issues such as mental health care reform."

Source: CNN

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Finally, a scholar who "gets it". :)

OMG I never thought I would see those words from Bushman, I guessing his flawed methods are finally backfiring on him. He just need to convince his former colleagues at Iowa State to start looking at it the same.

What? Don't be silly, everyone knows that every shooting ever is caused by video games and not any other part of our gun-loving violence-obsessed culture with a poor mental health system.

Now this is a fresh breath of air, seeing an expert not doubling down on the generic "video games make people killers" arguments.

Wow, mental healthcare brought up in a talk about videogames causing violence? Looks like there is some vague glimmer of hope after all for research/solutions to mass shootings to start moving in the right direction.
The "mass shooters may be more accurate due to playing videogames" was hilarious though, why not just ask young US soldiers (a lot of them are gamers) about how much playing Call Of Duty helped improve their real-life aim with a real gun? They will gladly answer :)

roseofbattle:
However, Bushman goes on to reference his own study in which college students played violent videogames for 20 minutes each day for three days. Bushman reports they became more aggressive.

Of course they're more aggressive: they're overcompensating for being filthy casuals.

It took you how many years to arrive at the completely fucking obvious, Dr. Bushmann?

I mean, it's not like that the number of mass-shooters is an INCREDIBLY TINY proportion of the total number of people that play violent videogames (even assuming that "mass-shooters" and "plays violent games" have 100% overlap, which is questionable itself).

This is an observation a CHILD could make (and did make), so pardon me for not jumping on the "Lets gladhand the PROFESSIONAL OPINION" bandwagon here...
..sigh. Well, progress is progress. At least they're learning.

Of course videogames make people violent! Look at the countries where people play them as/more often than America

Like Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia, China, most of Europe...

(picking up on my sarcasm yet?)

Nope nope nope. Sorry PROFESSOR but you are wrong. Your little PHD means absolutely squat when compared to the average savvy of ambulance chasing journalists, agenda pushing politicians, or random internet posters. The problem is guns games and a violence obsessed culture. Stop trying to wave that red herring of a shoddy mental health system or a self absorbed "don't want to get involved" culture in our faces. That man could have been mad as a balloon and a threat to no one if guns and violent video games hadn't existed. Stop using the mentally ill as your scapegoat. Shame on you Sir!

Save us from these ivory tower scholars. What next PROFESSOR? You going to blame people themselves for being overweight because they eat too much garbage food and don't exercise, when the real villain is of course the massive junk food industry and the existence of hamburgers?

It really is a sad state of matters that someone has to point out not even that 'videogames aren't a problem', but that 'videogames aren't the *only* problem', and a gaming site even has to write about it.

roseofbattle:
Bushman goes on to reference his own study in which college students played violent videogames for 20 minutes each day for three days. Bushman reports they became more aggressive.

Some more information on this would be useful; I imagine it'd skew the findings fairly far if it was competitive and/or multiplayer, as opposed to simply violent. For the amount of time as well, I can imagine the test subjects ending up with a somewhat more 'focused' aggression than from, say, an hour's gameplay.

I will always believe that violent video games can cause aggressive, and dangerous, behavior, but never will I believe that they can be the ONLY factor. If that were the case, I'm fairly certain the United States would be devoid of a population by now because we would have all killed each other off. It's nice to see that this guy understands that, especially after reading that disgusting article from Fox News yesterday. Just...ugh.

Video games can encourage violent behavior. This much is a known quantity. However,at the end of the day,the choice to carry out on these violent impulses falls to the individual who played the game. Not the game itself. Violent video games exist to give people an outlet for their violent urges,in order to vent them in a theater where there are no repercussions. Catharsis,in a word. When people try and say that violent games are the root cause of violence in modern youth,they are simply too scared to look deeper into the real cause: Mental health,upbringing,and societal victimization.

A game can't make you do anything,just as my more religious acquaintances say that the devil can't make you do anything. At the end of the day,the choice is ALWAYS yours. It's the simplest logic in the world that only the people on the receiving end of the argument seem to use,because the mass media wants a scapegoat. It happened with comic books,rap,metal and hip-hop. And now it's happening to games.

Quite frankly,I'm wondering when the world's powers that be will grow a collective spine and sit up and take the lumps it has coming.

roseofbattle:
"[Bushman] extends [his] research to imply that mass shooters may be more accurate due to playing videogames. This also, to me, seems a considerable overreach," Ferguson wrote.

Even if this were true, why would it matter? Are we supposed to ban anything that increases peoples' skill level? This is like saying chemistry majors should be banned because they could use their knowledge to make a bomb. Besides, if you're saying games are bad because they increase shooters' accuracy why wouldn't that extend to shooting ranges, the sport of hunting and having basic motor control over your limbs?

Saying video games increase aggression is fairly pointless as well. There are plenty of things that increase aggression including alcohol, sports, driving and anything else that can result in competition or frustration.

Sniper Team 4:
I will always believe that violent video games can cause aggressive, and dangerous, behavior,

I am of the opinion that anything competitive causes aggressive and dangerous behaviour. Videogames, contact sports, board games, pooh sticks. Anything that involves competing against something else will raise your adrenaline and your desire to win will make you more aggressive and less empathetic in that short term.

We used to host LAN parties at our Uni flat for Medal of Honor multiplayer. It was ace, we also had board games nights, they were awesome. We only had one incident of lost temper the whole time we had these competitions, and that was when an otherwise meek and non-violent girl reached over in the middle of a game and full on slapped her teammate because he wasn't playing attention and was joking about during the round and it was making them lose.

We were playing pictionary, by the way, she never played videogames.

Any competitive sport brings out our competitive nature. It doesn't have to be a violent sport, it doesn't have to be an important occasion. As soon as you are trying to best another person your empathy and pacifism go straight out the window. Videogames are no worse, and no better, than any other competitive activity, and their long term effect is no greater or less than the long term effect of a similarly competitive activity.

That's the way I see it from personal experience.

Yeah Bushman can go suck an egg or two. I came from a bad home, was a victim of bullying, and have mental health issues and I have never had the urge to go out and shoot anyone in real life.

There is no clear-cut answer to mass-shootings. There simply isn't. Sometimes it's mental illness, sometimes it's someone "fighting back" after years of abuse, hell sometimes it's just something is WRONG with a person's brain, like a tumor.
I think people misunderstand, people who are going to do this, whether they play video games or not, are GOING to do this. The only influence a game probably has is maybe to get ideas or the belief that it can work as a simulator. It may fuel their fantasies, but their fantasies don't go away with the game.

Wow, just 20 minutes a day for 3 days? Considering my weekly gaming time I should have became a raging psychopath ages ago. :p

Hero in a half shell:

Sniper Team 4:
I will always believe that violent video games can cause aggressive, and dangerous, behavior,

I am of the opinion that anything competitive causes aggressive and dangerous behaviour. Videogames, contact sports, board games, pooh sticks. Anything that involves competing against something else will raise your adrenaline and your desire to win will make you more aggressive and less empathetic in that short term.

We used to host LAN parties at our Uni flat for Medal of Honor multiplayer. It was ace, we also had board games nights, they were awesome. We only had one incident of lost temper the whole time we had these competitions, and that was when an otherwise meek and non-violent girl reached over in the middle of a game and full on slapped her teammate because he wasn't playing attention and was joking about during the round and it was making them lose.

We were playing pictionary, by the way, she never played videogames.

Any competitive sport brings out our competitive nature. It doesn't have to be a violent sport, it doesn't have to be an important occasion. As soon as you are trying to best another person your empathy and pacifism go straight out the window. Videogames are no worse, and no better, than any other competitive activity, and their long term effect is no greater or less than the long term effect of a similarly competitive activity.

That's the way I see it from personal experience.

Pictionary is serious business yo. She would probably kick my ass over my complete lack of drawing skills. :p

Seriously though I totally agree with your post, competition just plain brings out the aggression in people. Like I recently started a casual fantasy league with some really good friends. And over something extremely minor and quite frankly stupid we had the loudest argument we've ever had in over 10 years of knowing each other. Like I'm sure it won't affect us or anything(least I really hope not) but after that I'm starting to think the words "friendly competition" might be a oxymoron.

Hero in a half shell:

We were playing pictionary, by the way, she never played videogames.

Is it a jackal? A jackal, a jackal, is it a jackal?

Pictionary can be the most aggravating of games in my experience lol.

Fair enough. Because, strangely enough, in cases where all you need to cause a killing spree is a trigger, video games can act as said trigger. We can't really avoid that as much as we love our medium. That said, we should also acknowledge that this does not, in any way, make videogames culpable or in fact the actual cause of that violence. No more than literature or film or any other arts anyway. Nice little article. :D

Pink Gregory:

roseofbattle:
Bushman goes on to reference his own study in which college students played violent videogames for 20 minutes each day for three days. Bushman reports they became more aggressive.

Some more information on this would be useful; I imagine it'd skew the findings fairly far if it was competitive and/or multiplayer, as opposed to simply violent. For the amount of time as well, I can imagine the test subjects ending up with a somewhat more 'focused' aggression than from, say, an hour's gameplay.

I'd also like to see studies done on "frustrating" vs. "non-frustrating" gameplay, detached from violence. From personal experience, I'd imagine aggressive behavior would be more prevalent in the "frustrating activity" group, despite the lack of violent content. Violent games tend to engender frustration (especially when linked with competitive features, such as multiplayer), so that element may be where that finding is coming from, rather than the violence itself.

This is, of course, not discounting the tendency of people (especially kids) to mirror the violent activities they see in media (Power Rangers used to hype me up pretty good as a kid), but that in itself does not make for real-world violence.

seditary:

Hero in a half shell:

We were playing pictionary, by the way, she never played videogames.

Is it a jackal? A jackal, a jackal, is it a jackal?

Pictionary can be the most aggravating of games in my experience lol.

IF IT WASN'T RIGHT THE FIRST TIME YOU SAID IT, WHY THE HELL WOULD IT BE RIGHT THE NEXT TEN TIMES?!?!?!

GAUGH!!!

Psychobabble:
Nope nope nope. Sorry PROFESSOR but you are wrong. Your little PHD means absolutely squat when compared to the average savvy of ambulance chasing journalists, agenda pushing politicians, or random internet posters. The problem is guns games and a violence obsessed culture. Stop trying to wave that red herring of a shoddy mental health system or a self absorbed "don't want to get involved" culture in our faces. That man could have been mad as a balloon and a threat to no one if guns and violent video games hadn't existed. Stop using the mentally ill as your scapegoat. Shame on you Sir!

Save us from these ivory tower scholars. What next PROFESSOR? You going to blame people themselves for being overweight because they eat too much garbage food and don't exercise, when the real villain is of course the massive junk food industry and the existence of hamburgers?

your irony was so good i only understood what your doing by 3rd sentence. well done!

frizzlebyte:

IF IT WASN'T RIGHT THE FIRST TIME YOU SAID IT, WHY THE HELL WOULD IT BE RIGHT THE NEXT TEN TIMES?!?!?!

Because people like this:

Tiamattt:
Wow, just 20 minutes a day for 3 days? Considering my weekly gaming time I should have became a raging psychopath ages ago. :p

Wait, so your telling me its not normal that i became i raging psychopath?

Did you know that all of the shooters wore clothing on the day of the shooting? I think it is clear we need to start thinking about regulating clothing, especially for people who may be prone to mental health issues and violence.

Strazdas:

frizzlebyte:

IF IT WASN'T RIGHT THE FIRST TIME YOU SAID IT, WHY THE HELL WOULD IT BE RIGHT THE NEXT TEN TIMES?!?!?!

Because people like this:

Um, you do know that my above quote is what Stewie says to the guy who keeps saying "Jackal" in the episode, right? I mean, I get the joke, that's why I said that.

Your video reply confuses me. :\

frizzlebyte:

Um, you do know that my above quote is what Stewie says to the guy who keeps saying "Jackal" in the episode, right?

No, i dont. I havent even seen that episode and saw this video linked before and remmebered. My mistake this time.

Video games are Mentos. If you put it into water, nothing happens. You have to add a lot of shit to water to make into a soda before the Mentos will make it explode, & that water is a slow combination of nature & nurture.

I'd agree about this being a breath of fresh air, but this is hardly surprising. Fox says Black, CNN says White. One researcher and some talking heads approach games like it's Rock and Roll or comics in the 50s, and another tries and have a more sedate approach. They bicker, State senators and governors bankroll their constituents' fears for a while, talks of legislation are made, then the electoral basin stops caring. The deciders stop caring. Something else briefly becomes the Right wing's straw man.

Then another kid dies, and it breaks out that Gosh Gee Willickers, Batman, his killer had the gall to breathe in a game console's general direction, sometime prior to the murder he committed. Fox smells viewership gold and drags its usual Gray Eminences in.

It starts all over again. I'm tired of this shit. As in - literally weary.

 

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