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Are Video Games Really Causing Violence?

Illustration by Clara Hollowgrass

The video game Fortnite’s popularity has seemingly come overnight. Everyone plays it all the time, and since its mobile release, schools are now contemplating banning it. But what exactly is Fortnite and what has caused its momentous popularity?

Available on Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, iMacs, PCs, and the app store, Fortnite is another last man standing, winner takes all video game. Its popularity has grown because of its entertaining victory dances and colorful virtual world.

Despite all the fun Fortnite brings, it and other video games are often touted as having negative side effects. These include causing those who play it to have short attention spans, possible violent behavior, and distraction from responsibilities.

But video games don’t inherently cause violence, as long as an individual has healthy habits in the other areas of their life. If this is the case, video games shouldn’t have any negative effect on users. According to a Mother Jones article, “The number of violent youth offenders in the United States fell by more than half between 1994 and 2010, while video game sales more than doubled since 1996”.

Clearly, there isn’t a definite correlation between video games and violence. In fact, it almost seems as if video games decrease the rates of violence. We should address the root causes of violent behavior, perhaps by making it harder to obtain guns and other weapons, rather than simply putting the blame on video games like Fortnite.

One of the positive side effects of video games is quicker reflexes.  What is often forgotten are the social benefits video games can bring for teenagers. Video games allow teenagers to bond with friends, relax, and unwind. In Fortnite, players can play in “squads,” where they talk through microphones to other players. Users can play with their friends across the country or even the world. While this can create a distraction from schoolwork, that can be managed. These stress-relieving effects can be very beneficial to teenagers, and that’s why when played in moderation, videos games are harmless.

Adults need to stop fearing the “violent” effects of video games. Similarly, politicians and spokespeople need to stop blaming them for mass shootings. After Sandy Hook, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “Guns don’t kill people. Video games, the media, and Obama’s budget kill people.” People who are in positions of authority need to take action, take responsibility, and stop casting blame onto negligible factors. If they did, so much could be accomplished. By comprehensively tackling issues such as gun control, they would no longer be able to hide behind the scapegoat of video games. They should focus on real life problems, rather than blaming an innocent and stress relieving hobby.