President Donald Trump’s remarks about the causes of mass violence in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings sparked furor among video game enthusiasts. In his speech on Monday, Trump warned of the “perils of social media” and the “gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” which he claims contributed to these incidents.
His statement was widely derided in the press as baseless – scapegoating video games to draw attention away from the gun control debate. But here’s the thing: Trump’s condemnation of video games wasn’t generated in a vacuum. It has been the de facto narrative of the press for the past several decades.
IT’S ABOUT ETHICS IN JOURNALISM ON GAMING
While some members of the press appropriately defended video games from attacks by Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman, who both blamed violent media for the rise in violent crime in the mid-2000s, the mainstream media remains a major proponent of the specious claim that exposure to violence in video games contributes to real-world violence.
If the problem isn’t framed as video games specifically – it’s the community around them.
Though The New York Times now decries Trump’s statements on video games as ignorant, the paper has, on numerous occasions, endorsed the argument he now espouses. In a piece published in 1999, the Times promoted the barely investigated “conclusion” that “there is at least some demonstrable link between watching violent acts in movies and television shows and acting aggressively in life.” Citing the Surgeon General’s office and brief overviews of studies from the early 70s, the paper boldly proclaimed that violent media is a contributing factor to increases in violent crime and antisocial behavior.
If the problem isn’t framed as video games specifically – it’s the community around them.
In 2018, the Times all but attacked video game culture. “Video games do have a big problem, but it is not stylized virtual violence. Rather, it is the bigotry, social abuse, sexism and other toxic behavior to which players too often subject one another when gaming together online,” wrote Seth Schiesel.
Just this week, the Washington Post ran an article by Democratic congressional candidate Brianna Wu who made a similar argument against “gamer culture,” which she blamed for “encouraging hate.”
Mother Jones chimed in with a piece arguing that “toxic elements in the gaming community” helped foster an environment that cultivates “white nationalist killers.” The article claimed that Gamergate, described as a series of “vicious harassment campaigns targeting women in the gaming industry” led to the formulation of the 8chan imageboard, where the El Paso shooter allegedly posted his manifesto.
The article ultimately canceled itself by drawing on online extremism scholar Whitney Phillips, who pointed out that targeting gaming culture is as misguided as blaming the actual video games.
“The internet doesn’t amplify anything, it amplifies the worst things,” said Phillips, who argued that the problems are structural. “The problems of hate and white supremacy are enormous. You’re basically dealing with the history of the entire United States.”
AN ANSWER THAT IS CLEAR, SIMPLE, AND WRONG
Studies on video games and their connection to violence ultimately lay the blame at the feet of video game enthusiasts. They are condemned and criminalized as anti-social, aggressive, and inherently dangerous – either for their consumption of violent media, or for belonging to the community surrounding video games.
The evidence does not support either indictment.
“The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time.”
Psychologist Patrick Markey conducted a longitudinal study on the relationship between mass shooters and violent video games, finding that 80 percent of shooters had no interest whatsoever in video games.
“It seems like something that should make us safer, so it’s a totally understandable reaction,” Markey said in an interview with CBS News. “The problem is just the science, the data, does not back up that they actually have an effect.”
A comprehensive study at the Oxford Internet Institute found that the link between aggression and violent video games is broadly overstated. “The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time,” says lead researcher Andrew Przybylski.
Similar research conducted by Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California, found that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing crimes. “The overwhelming majority of kids who play do not commit antisocial acts,” Jenkins argues.
The most damning evidence comes from Japan, where upwards of 60 percent of the population says they play video games. The country has exceptionally low levels of crime, violent or otherwise. When there is an instance of mass violence, like the recent arson attack on Japan’s KyoAni animation studio, the news coverage lasts for weeks.
But these facts have done little to stop the relentless condemnation of video games and the gamers who play them.
But these facts have done little stop the relentless condemnation of video games and the gamers who play them.
The media’s outlandish claims have led many – including the President and politicians like Kevin McCarthy – to the unsubstantiated conclusion that those “gruesome and grisly video games” are a catalyst for mass shootings.
But the evidence is not on their side. It’s time they focused on the broader crisis facing young men in this country – alienation, isolation, and a lack of meaning. These young men are not robots, unquestioningly mimicking what they see on the screen. Nor are we justified in criminalizing and punishing them for their media consumption. They are, frightening as it may be to recognize, only human.
Ian Miles Cheong is the managing editor of Human Events.
The Gaming Industry Is Booming
The gaming industry is booming, and it will continue to bring in more revenue for several countries throughout the next few years. In fact, the United States just overcame China as the world’s number one consumer of online games, and it’s generating billions of dollars for the gaming industry. However, one form of gaming has lost its popularity in recent years.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the decline in one particular type of game’s popularity, and we’ll see how it stacks up against the newer and more popular forms of gaming.
What Are HTML5 Games?
We’ve mentioned that one particular type of game is declining in popularity. We were talking about HTML5 games. If you grew up in the early 2000’s, you know exactly what these browser-based games are. You don’t have to download them, and they’re available to anyone who owns a computer with an internet connection. In essence, they’re perfect for people who don’t own powerful computers or gaming consoles.
Here are a few examples of browser games that impacted the gaming industry over the last two decades.
How Do They Stack Up With Other Online Games?
While some browser games continue to thrive, that segment of the overall gaming industry has been losing steam over the last decade. Runescape and a few other titles still generate a lot of buzz, and people still flock to them on a daily basis, but the browser-based gaming community only makes up two-percent of the gaming industry now, and they only generate 12-percent of the revenue that is brought in by the gaming industry.
There are several factors that have caused this decline in popularity.
- Console Popularity: Consoles have enough power nowadays to handle extremely elaborate and complex games with ease. They’re not as cheap as browser games are, but they’re not as expensive as gaming computers. Since the majority of people can afford at least one console, they typically opt to play more robust games.
- Game Quality: While some of the genre’s mainstays are exceptionally high-quality games, many browser-based games are simply training exercises for budding game developers. They’re cheap to make, and developers can try out new ideas without developing expensive titles that might not sell well. Sometimes, they come up with a great idea, and the game generates tons of revenue.
- Indie Gaming: During their peak, browser-based games were free to play without many micro-transactions. Now, a large indie gaming community exists that offers cheap or free games without micro-transactions, and the games are usually more robust than what browsers can handle.
Now, let’s go over how the other types of games are doing.
Surprisingly, mobile games are currently generating most of the gaming industry’s revenue. Only 33-percent of games are developed for mobile platforms, but they are usually filled with different features that constantly generate more revenue for game developers, and people often spend much more than the price of a AAA console game on a single mobile game to enjoy those features. 36-percent of the gaming industry’s revenue comes from mobile games.
The massive growth of the mobile gaming industry is expected to decrease slightly within the next few years, though. There is a new wave of consoles on the horizon, and the hype surrounding those new consoles will temporarily drag some people away from mobile games for a short time. However, it is expected to remain the industry’s biggest cash cow.
Console games make up roughly 30-percent of the gaming market. Statistics for each console vary slightly, but they typically average out to 30-percent of the market. In comparison, console games bring in about 32-percent of the gaming industry’s revenue.
This is largely due to the popularity of console games. Exclusive titles, ease of use, and several other factors that have made console games grow in popularity since the 90’s.
Browser-based games are typically only found on PC and Mac computers, but this section isn’t dedicated to those. This section is dedicated to the other games that you can find on PC. These titles are usually as expensive as console games, and many of them are ports of console games. You can also find indie games that are cheap or free, and there are tons of games that are only developed for PC and Mac computers. Overall, PC games make up 60-percent of the gaming market.
That’s because they’re very easy to develop. Just about anyone can buy some Unity assets, throw together a basic game, and then market it for free on PC. Development costs are minimal, and since there are several free development tools on the market, developers don’t have to have a lot of coding and animating experience to create PC games. HTML5 games are a big upcoming market, especially now that the Flash browser plugin it in its end of life.
When it comes to AAA titles, game developers get the same benefits out of PC development. It’s easier to create functional networks on PC, and it’s typically easier to make the games themselves due to how powerful and intuitive modern computers are. Surprisingly, that hasn’t made PC games more financially fruitful than mobile games. While PC games make up 60-percent of the market, they only generate roughly 25-percent of the revenue that the gaming industry generates.
VR games are pretty new to the gaming industry. As such, they don’t make up a large portion of the industry, and they haven’t generated much of the revenue that other games have. With that being said, they are rising in popularity, and only time will tell if they will become a major part of the gaming industry as a whole.
At the moment, VR games are more popular than browser-based games, but they still only make up 17-percent of the market. A lot of the games are available through Steam, and only a fraction of a percentage of Steam users actually own a VR headset. That is expected to change over the next decade.
So, where does this leave browser-based games? Well, their declining popularity and low amount of revenue isn’t a good thing, but it’s not all bad news. Several browser-based titles are popular around the globe, and developers are still developing high-quality games such as Runescape and Quake Live. The browser-based gaming market may be dwindling, but it will continue to stick around for quite some time, and developers who offer unique and engaging experiences will easily find a reliable audience.
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