Violent games don’t cause violence, reader says

Dear Editor,
Some people are blaming violent behavior on mental illness and/or video games. These statements are totally false, scientifically and logically.
I am a retired counselor who has been monitoring the issue of the relationship between video games and violence for over 50 years, and the results of scientific data has changed very little.
Yes, some violent people do play video games, but most people who play video games do not act violently. In fact, many violent people do not play video games.
There is no significant evidence that video games cause people to act violently. There is evidence of an association – a correlation – of violent people and video games. But, there is a significant difference between an association, or correlation, and cause and effect (causation).
Here is a metaphorical analogy. Studies have found an association/correlation between increases in the sale of ice cream and increases in drowning at parks. But, that is not the cause and effect; the cause for both events is increased heat and humidity. So, the cause for the increase in the effects of drowning and the sale of ice cream is the weather.
Also, some violent people play video games, and some mentally ill people become violent.
But, the relationship between violent video games, or mental health, and violence is anecdotal – just an individual event. It is a generalization – assignment to a group of people – to say that people who play video games, or are mentally ill, are more likely to be violent.
Here is another metaphorical analogy. Within a flock of birds which is flying in a particular direction there is at least one bird flying in another – sometimes opposite – direction. The behavior of that one bird is an anecdote; if you describe it as the behavior of the flock, that is a generalization.
I hope that this commentary helps explain why a suggested relationship between violence, or mental health, and video games in an error. Yes, we need to address the matter of violence, and the matter of mental health in our society. But, let us not be confused about the causes of each; they are complex!
Tom Stone