Remember the epidemic of professional chefs in the 80's after widespread playing of the Nintendo game Burger Time? Or how about the rampant increase of applicants for taxi licenses after the 1999 release of the Sega game Crazy Taxi? Neither do we here at Save The World Radio.
Yet it seems a forgone conclusion to Infowars correspondent Paul Joseph Watson that video games are to blame for the September 16th Navy Yard incident in Washington. This is despite a complete lack of evidence directly linking video games to mass shootings. In a CNN interview, Patrick Markey, associate professor of psychology at Villanova University, states quite bluntly that the evidence simply isn't there:
Empirically, there's actually no difference [between violent video games and violent movies]. In fact.. we actually find that the average effect of video games is actually lower than the average effect of movies and television and so forth.
It may require a bit of nuance to truly grasp this issue, which may help explain why Infowars.com seems to be having a difficult time with it. While first person style shooter games have been co-developed by the military for quite some time, the actual evidence indicates that video games are no more or less conducive to violent behavior than violent movies TV shows or music. The fact that war or combat simulating video games often serve as conditioning and even training for military recruits is certainly no secret, but it's simply irresponsible to claim that this fact in itself is tantamount to video games triggering insane mass murder rampages. It's equivalent to claiming that people who go through gun training courses are more likely to become infamous mass murderers. The evidence simply isn't there.
But that doesn't slow Watson down in making the baseless claim:
Now I know many people see video games now as a kind of religion, and to dare question them and even suggest that they may have any link to violence is an insult to many people.. but it's a question that needs to be asked.
We'll set aside the irony of Watson working for a religious fundamentalist news outlet while claiming those who disagree with him are religious zealots, and focus rather on several hard points. Watson is either ignorant of, or intentionally obscuring the fact that this question has in fact been asked, in detail, in scientific studies and no evidence has revealed a conclusive link between video games and mass shootings. Also indicative of Watson's cultural bias is his oversimplified mention of there being "any link" between video games and violence. However, it isn't simply "any link" between video games and violence that would prove Watson's assertions, but a link specifically between mass murders and video games, two patently different questions.
In a final brushstroke of clumsy finger pointing, Watson then attempts to meld the very well supported claim that SSRI drugs are primarily responsible for these shootings, with his personal crusade against video games. Unlike video games, however, psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin have been firmly linked not only to increased violent tendencies but to these mass shootings themselves, as the overwhelming majority of these shooters have been found to be under the influence of these drugs during the time of the shootings.