As the American debate over solutions to gun violence rages on, politicians are once again looking at video games as a potential scapegoat. Many argue that violent games cause the people who play them to develop violent tendencies. President Trump himself seems to ascribe to this school of thought, as he once claimed that video games turn kids into monsters, and more recently accused video games of shaping young people's thoughts towards violence.
With this in mind, Trump recently held a meeting to discuss video game violence. During the course of the talks, Media Research Council President Brent Bozell made the claim that most school shooters play violent video games, and urged Trump to push for stricter regulation of the video game industry, comparing games to tobacco and liquor.
Since Bozell and others began spouting this rhetoric, there has been pushback from the scientific community. Dr. Patrick Markey, a Professor of Psychology at Villanova University, has been particularly vocal in rebutting the supposed link between video games and school shootings.
Back in 2014, Markey published a research paper titled "Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data." The study looked at 33 years worth of statistics in the fields of violent crime and video games, and it reached the overall conclusion that "No evidence was found to suggest that video games were a major (or minor) contributing cause of violence in the United States." Additionally, the study did find correlations between spikes in video game play time and decreases in violent crime, although there's no certainty that games are to thank over other factors, like weather.
Since the publishing of this paper, Markey has followed it up with a book titled Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong. In his book, Markey discusses statistics on school shootings. Citing research from a Secret Service report, Markey showed that just 12.5% of school shooters had interest in violent video games in 2002. Video games are much more common place now, so Markey conducted further research along with Dr. Peter Langman, one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of school shootings. Markey found that just between 13% and 20% of school shooters were interested in violent video games, while Langman noted that just 20% of the shooters involved in the deadliest school shootings from 2005 to 2012 played violent video games. By comparison, Markey's research found that approximately 70% of overall high schoolers played violent video games, which makes the rate among shooters shockingly low.
You can check out an interview with Dr. Patrick Markey by clicking below, and you can view some of the data from his book in the gallery below.