Are Violent Computer Games Bad?

When it comes to video games, shooter games are notorious for their bad publicity over their violent nature. But is there any credit in the claims or are they just exaggerations or fears rooted in ignorance.

Firstly, all video games commercially available are subject to the stringent review process for age restriction and suitability for publishing in their respective countries. This is true of the film industry as well. Games, like movies, are age rated and reviewed thoroughly over their content suitability for the intended age by experts of the relevant fields. Playing shooter computer games when you are of age, therefore poses no more risk than watching an action film at the cinema if you’re of age.

One of the most commonly cited reasons for believing that computer games, particularly of the shooter variety, are that they make people violent. Usually selectively choosing an example of a gunman who committed a crime of massacre as declaring that there was a causation link between the ‘violent’ video game and the criminal incident took place. But this is nothing more than choosing a story to fit the facts rather than have the facts drive the story. And because many of these incidents that are cited are shocking it creates a great upset over shooter games but the link is false. Indeed it is logically fallacious.

Firstly, choosing an extremely rare event and then saying that because the shooter played shooting video game caused him to do X is ignoring the dozens of millions of players engaging in online shooter games each and every single day who never carry out a violent act. Secondly, and perhaps, more importantly, it makes the logical error which is known by its Latin phrase – Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, or its English ‘Confusing Causation with Correlation’. Just because two things happen together does not mean that one is causing the other to occur. Terrorists and criminals may very well watch action movies which contain lots of shooting but no one is claiming that there is causation there.

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