Experts weigh in on whether video games are linked to gun violence


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Experts are weighing in on whether violent video games are linked to violent behavior.

Following the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump pointed to video games as a catalyst for armed violence.

In response to the shootings, Walmart announced its plans to remove violent video games from their displays. But the stores will still carry and sell the games. Company officials say taking the displays down is an act of respect to the shooting victims.

Army veteran Joshua Leake says he grew up playing video games. And as an adult, he went on to join the army but never stopped doing what he loved.

“When I was deployed in Iraq honestly it gets very boring. It gets incredibly boring. So what do we do for fun? We play video games,” Leake said.

He says he doesn’t agree with the idea that video games cause people to become violent.

“Anyone who’s played Call of Duty and then gone and fought in actual combat, no. I don’t think so. Now, has Mario Kart and Mario Party destroyed a lot of friendships? Yes. But as for actual video games being violent. No, they’re not,” Leake said.

He says there’s a difference between real-world violence and video game violence.

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t fire a gun until I joined the army. I knew nothing about guns. And you might be saying, ‘well you played a lot of video games.’ Well yea, just because I played video games, doesn’t mean I was a gun expert. That stuff doesn’t teach people to be killers no matter how violent it is,” said Leake.

Carilion Clinic’s chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Dr. Robert Trestman says he doesn’t think video games cause violence, either, but it may increase the risk. In a statement, he said in part.

“No, they do not cause violence. In context, they may increase the risk and that risk is mediated by a person’s age, gender, co-occurring substance use, and social network.”

Dr. Robert Trestman, Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Carilion Clinic

Dr. Trestman went on to say those risks are mediated by a person’s age, gender, whether there’s substance use, and social network.

“A few individuals charged with mass shootings have a history of violent video games, but many do not. More have associations through person-to-person or online groups propagating shared extreme and violent beliefs.”

Dr. Robert Trestman, Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Carilion Clinic

The owner of Game Junkie Stephen Chocklett says video games are more of an outlet or entertainment for people.

“You can’t take the blame off one thing and put it on something else. That’s what I think is going on here,” said Chocklett.

He discussed the various ratings of video games, which serves as a purchasing guide and prevents mature content from falling into the wrong hands. He says he doesn’t sell games to anyone too young for the rating without their parents’ permission.

“The age range we see, we have parents that bring kids, but this is not a kid-friendly thing. Everybody thinks, video games and kids… no,” Chocklett said.

Chocklett says in his experience children mostly use tablets and play games with less violence like Fortnite.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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