As you may have noticed, we’ve been closely following the debate in Congress and the media over violent video games. Too often, elected officials such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-KY) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) have made fallacious claims linking video games to violent behavior, despite copious evidence to the contrary. So, we are gratified to note that House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not been taken in by the rhetoric. Yesterday in an interview on Fox News, as host Chris Wallace asserted that more research on video games is not needed because the link to violent behavior is obvious, Pelosi pushed back: “the evidence… says that in Japan, for example,… they have the most violent games than the rest and the lowest mortality from guns.”
Pelosi may be referring to an oft-cited study by Max Fisher of the Washington Post which compared per capita video game spending to gun murders in 10 different countries. Japan did indeed have a very low rate of gun deaths, but the really striking examples were South Korea and the Netherlands, where video game spending far outpaced the other countries yet gun murders remained well under 0.5 per 100,000 people. By comparison, U.S. video game spending was below the average, but our gun murders were over 3 per 100,000, statistical light years from any other country in the study.
Pelosi should be applauded for actually considering the evidence before offering an opinion on video games and violence. Hopefully, her diligence will catch on with her colleagues in both houses of Congress!
Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.