It’s Okay to Research Video Game Violence

Last week, when President Obama made his sweeping gun control proposals, one of the items mentioned was a request for Congress to fund research to determine the “effects violent video games have on young minds.” This comes after Vice President Biden met with figureheads of the video game industry before making his proposals to the President. In December, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia proposed a piece of legislation that would request the National Academy of Sciences do just that.

Many in the gaming community are not happy about this. Across various gaming message boards, people equate the violence in a first-person shooter to having as much in common with gun violence as Hot Wheels have with automobile accidents. Some have stated that just by meeting with the Vice President, the industry is admitting that it’s part of the problem.

The mentality in which people believe that even conducting research is a waste of time and resources makes little sense to me. Adding to our pool of knowledge on the issue can hardly be a bad thing. Previous research in the field has shown weak links between violent behavior and video games. At their meeting, the Vice President did not claim that video games are to blame.

If it’s unlikely that this new research will find evidence that directly connects video games and real-life acts of violence, why is there such an uproar about it? Being against research because the potential outcome would be unfavorable to you is not a good reason to oppose research. If there was a connection between the two, would it not be important that we were at least aware of it? Opposing research because the outcome could conflict with your views is eerily reminiscent of the NRA using their influence to see that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had no funding to conduct research in the mid-1990s because the agency felt that it was important to study the link between gun-related injuries and public health.

If previous research is anything to go by, adding to the pool of knowledge to show that there is no serious connection could ultimately help end the discussion.

But hey, at least Obama and Biden aren’t calling video game developers “electronic child molesters.”

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