PA Gov’t Finds No Link Between Violence and Video Games, Recommends We Keep Looking

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf introduced a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to study "the issue of violence prevention, to establish an advisory committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the underlying causes of violent crime, including mass shootings, and to report to the Senate with its findings and recommendations."

The resolution states that violent events such as Sandy Hook share many common themes such as "mental illness and mental health treatment, keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, school security, bullying, gang-related activity, educational issues and cultural influences, including violent video games."

In December 2013, the commission released its report, making 44 recommendations on the topics of media, mental health, responsible gun ownership, and school safety.

On the topic of media, the commission recommends that we not make celebrities out of perpetrators of violence, news media should keep public safety and ongoing police investigations in mind when reporting on violent incidents, and that parents should "take a more active role in screening and limiting children's exposure to media violence."

Finally, while the commission notes that no one's ever found a direct causal link between violent video games and violent behavior, it says the question of a "potential correlation" remains unresolved and more "evidence-based research on the possible effects of exposure to media violence should be encouraged."

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) takes issue with the commission's media findings saying that it's report perpetuates logical fallacies, misrepresents the U.S. Supreme Court, selectively omits essential evidence, and loses the distinction between real violence and imaginary violence.

"Any useful conclusions in the report are marred by a persistent anti-game attitude that is still too common in government and the media," reads an IGDA press release.

"The Commission’s charge was 'to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis.' By omitting facts and logic to err so often on the anti-video game side, we reluctantly conclude that they failed at their task when it comes to video games… The Commission owes the people of Pennsylvania an amended report that corrects logical fallacies, removes guilt by association, includes the actual reasoning of its own members, accurately quotes the Supreme Court, and honestly acknowledges that the pro-censorship side has been repeatedly caught with flawed research."

For his part, Senator Greenleaf said, "The advisory committee has allowed for wide input from a variety of backgrounds and professionals including law enforcement and mental health experts.  This allows for a fair, balanced, and bipartisan examination of this issue that establishes some guidelines for lawmakers.  I hope that the Legislature will carefully consider this report.  We have started a meaningful examination of violence, and now we can begin to take steps towards prevention."

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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  1. 0
    MechaTama31 says:

    It may well be cool, but not necessarily to you, or me, or any of us.  The generation who recognized the comic books or rock and roll moral panics as being stupid and backwards, for example, is the same generation who are now on the panic side for video games.  Moral panics are a generational phenomenon.  Every young generation chafes at them, but then they end up having their own panics as they become the old generation.  I see no reason to think our generation will be different or special in this regard.

  2. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Is it odd that I really can not wait to see what the next big threat it?

    The previous subjects of moral panics… immigrants, changing of gender roles, religious tolerance, racial tolerance, sexual tolerance, porn, comic books, movies, music, video games, have all been pretty awesome things.

    So I imagine whatever the next thing that freaks people out will also very cool.

  3. 0
    KaylaKaze says:

    But the senator said the examination was "fair and balanced" and we all know that if something is said to be fair and balanced, it really truly is, right?

  4. 0
    brotherspartacus says:

    Here's a quick experiment we can do, right now, to determine if violent videogames have a significant effect on real-world violence:

    Let's pick a bestselling violent videogame. I'm going to go with the original Modern Warfare, which has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of about 17,000,000 copies, and was released in 2007. From 2007 to now, there have been approximately 119,000 murders in the United States. If we assume one murderer for every one victim, that every single one of those murders was committed by someone who played Modern Warfare, and that playing that game was the catalyst for the murder, what percentage of Modern Warfare players become murderers?


  5. 0
    Mr.Tastix says:

    Even if that's the case it's not likely to work. It didn't work all that well for rock music and horror films and all the shit people loved to hate before video games become the cool thing to bash on.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with people continuing to look for signs of correlation or truth. It's why people will continue to look for the truth behind religious/spiritual beliefs like God or the supernatural.

    The only problem I have is when they focus far too much resources on it when it could be pooled into far better things, and when people do reports that are clearly biased against whatever they're trying to find out. That's not scientific, it's just blatant bashing, and nobody is fooling for it anymore.

  6. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    I'm all on board for not making celebrities out of mass shooters. It was REALLY disturbing to find out that the Aurora shooter had fangirls.

    Still, sad that they're willing to keep spending money in pursuit of a link, it's like they're looking to unnecessarily regulate video games by any means possible.

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