ABC News Searches for the Connection Between Playing Video Games and Mass Shootings

An article on ABC News tries to determine how violent video games fit in with real-world violent behavior. The report focuses on what Michael Ritrovato said about Washington Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis' obsessive gaming habits.

Ritrovato, who has been name checked in a number of stories for these comments, tells ABC News that the former Navy reservist was obsessed with military-style video games:

"It got so bad — was in his room all the time. … He'd be late for work," Ritrovato told ABC News. "The reason was because he was staying up all night playing video games."

But from this jumping point ABC News reaches out to Katherine Newman, author of the book "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings;" Violent Contact Research Act of 2013 sponsor Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.); the ESA; and the Media Violence Commission.

The ESA said in a statement to ABC News that "there's no medical or scientific research showing that video games cause people to be violent in real life." The trade group representing the video games industry declined to comment on Alexis.

Author Katherine Newman admits that that the question of how video games and other types of violent media influence violent behavior is a complex one.

"There is an association, but it's not a very robust one," she told ABC News. "After all, millions of kids use video games as entertainment and almost none of them do these kinds of acts."

Newman added that, while violent media may or may not be relevant in this and other mass shootings, focusing only on that one issue is "problematic:"

"I'm sure that they are relevant, but I wouldn't rest my case there," she said. "Overemphasizing this connection is problematic, but it's neither irrelevant nor dispositive."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told ABC News that it was too soon to jump to any conclusions concerning this latest shooting:

"We've heard some news accounts that the shooter spent time playing violent video games but it is simply too early to know whether this motivated yesterday's senseless act of violence," he said.

Finally ABC News quotes a report released by the Media Violence Commission, part of the International Society for Research on Aggression. The report looked at what more than 800 independent studies had to say about the link between violent media and aggressive behavior.

Their conclusion?

"Some commentators have argued that violent media, especially violent video games, are the primary cause of school shootings," the report said in its closing comments. "Other commentators have argued there is no good evidence of any harmful effects of violent media, usually based on the results of one or two studies. Neither extreme is supported by the vast body of research in this domain."

Source: ABC News

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