Obama Targets Violent Video Games

Posted at: 01/16/2013 10:43 PM
Updated at: 01/17/2013 11:28 AM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Among the medley of gun control measures President Obama proposed Wednesday, which included a ban on assault rifles and high capacity ammunition clips, he also asked Congress to revisit an issue that has been a source of controversy for years.

"Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds,” the president said. “We don't benefit from ignorance. We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence."

The alleged link between video games and violence has been debated ever since the tragic Columbine shooting back in 1999 when the shooters' habits of playing violent games was offered as a contributing factor to their actions.

But many people reject that idea, saying video games are merely being used as a scapegoat.

“It can be an out for some people to blame it on,” said Aron Robison, a video game enthusiast who produces a podcast on retro video games. “But really violence like that has been around since before a video game came into creation, so you can't really blame that on Pong or something like that."

And while most experts agree that video games cannot be singled out as a primary cause of violence, they aren’t ruling out the fact that they could be a contributing factor.

“The more you’re playing, the more you’re kind of seeing violence as an option,” said Dr. Mark Imig, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mayo Health Systems in Austin. “And the more you’re exposed to that I think it does gently and slowly change your attitude towards violence.”

Still, critics point to wildly popular movies, TV shows, and other forms of violent media as being equally or perhaps more responsible for creating a supposed mentality of violence.

But experts maintain it's not about whether or not the games cause violence, but rather the attitude towards violence that they create.

“You’re basically kind of becoming more desensitized to violence,” Dr. Imig said. “It seems more normal and more acceptable."

All video games come with a warning label on the back that describes the game’s content, whether that be adult language, drug references, or violence.

Video game defenders say it’s up to the consumer to read that label and decide for themselves whether it’s a game they want to buy for themselves or their children.