Video-Game Violence Is Now a Partisan Issue

Scholar and essayist Ian Bogost traces the history of video game scapegoating, noting that while the panic used to be bi-partisan, and then-senator Hilary Clinton targeted video games in 2005, now it’s mostly GOP voices who blame video games for violent actions such as mass shootings. (Incidentally, the Va Tech shooter preferred Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Sandy Hook shooter liked Dance Dance Revolution.)

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court finally got to weigh in on violent video games. The case, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, affirmed that a California law restricting the sale of violent games violated the First Amendment. Game creators and players celebrated the verdict as an endorsement of games’ status as speech. But the case also defanged much of the research on video-game violence. “The State’s evidence is not compelling,” the decision reads. “These studies … do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively … and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.”

The next year, when Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, video games were blamed again in the media. But on the ground, nobody ever seemed to consider the likelihood that games had driven Lanza to murder. As vice president, Joe Biden convened an inquestof the games industry after Sandy Hook, but it was hardly the witch hunt that Clinton had taken on earlier. According to Ferguson, who reviewed hundreds of pages of documentation released from the investigation, law-enforcement representatives even started reporting that they had begun dissuading victims’ families from paying attention to “hoax theories” of video-game violence. When the official reports finally came, it turned out that the game Lanza played most was Dance Dance Revolution, an electronica dance-performance game popular at miniature golf courses and bar mitzvahs. –Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

Some good context (not addressed specifically at the Bogost piece)… thread: