The author of this blog is recovering gamer, Alex Puzey, who is a frequent contributor to this site.
Concerned about recent violence that seems to be tied to video games, I combed through copious articles regarding the news from the Norway bombing. The killer claims to have been inspired by “Call of Duty.” And just yesterday here in the U.S., a 14-year old in Georgia apparently stabbed his grandmother and killed his great-grandmother with a 3-foot sword because they denied him access to “Halo.” Once again, I have really started to ask myself if videogames cause violence, or are just somehow associated with these horrific incidents. Now, personally, still being a hardcore gamer and recovering addict, I admit there have been times I grew frustrated, sometimes angry. I never caved in to this kind of behavior by lashing out at others. I wonder why these two young men became violent. Was it videogames that pushed them to it?
As it has been said in multiple studies over the last few years, video games do not cause violence, so much as they can bring it to the surface in those that exhibit some warning signs in their personality. We need to watch out for high neuroticism, low conscientiousness, and of course, past history of violence. The teen in Georgia had been arrested twice for violent outbreaks, and oddly enough, discharged from the hospital. Young people who exhibit a tendency to stay angry, lack agreeableness and skirt the social margins should not be allowed to play violent video games. In all cases where violent behavior was correlated with violent video games, disturbing personality traits existed long before individuals pursued their penchant for screen-mediated destruction. So, to be direct, we need to take heed when these behaviors exhibit themselves, and understand that these warning signs need to be taken seriously, instead of coming to snap-judgements on gaming, and misinterpreting correlation as causation when it comes to cases like this.