In a recent twist to the ongoing riots in France (French Riots) triggered by a fatal police shooting, President Emmanuel Macron has singled out an unlikely instigator: video games. Addressing a crisis meeting on Friday, Macron suggested that some of the rioters were simply acting out their video game experiences on the streets.
This statement aligns with a commonly held belief despite a consistent lack of empirical evidence. Studies have routinely debunked connections between violent video games and violent behavior. As per Christopher Ferguson, a professor at Stetson University who investigates such links, “There’s not evidence of a correlation, let alone a causation.”
The American Psychological Association has cautioned that placing blame on video gaming for violence is scientifically unsound and distracts from other contributing factors — a fact that critics believe could be the motive behind such allegations. French Riots.
Despite the lack of concrete evidence, video games have been frequently used as scapegoats for various societal issues. Here are five instances where video games have borne the brunt of blame.
1. Mass Shootings
President Macron is not alone in attributing violence to video games. After two mass shootings over one weekend in 2019, then-US President Donald Trump decried the commonplace “gruesome and grisly video games” in our society. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has also been a staunch supporter of this theory since the tragic 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
Popular video games like Doom and the Pokémon franchise have faced accusations of promoting satanic themes. However, such allegations have been refuted by institutions such as the Catholic Church. The Vatican-run satellite TV station, Sat2000, noted in 2020 that Pokémon promotes “intense ties of friendship” and is devoid of “any harmful moral side effects.”
Games like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Fortnite have been blamed for causing marital discord. Divorce Online reported that 5% of UK divorce filings in 2018 listed online game addiction as a reason for separation. While a gaming-addicted partner could be a source of annoyance, it’s more likely a symptom rather than a cause of relationship issues. French Riots.
While video games are often linked to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, research suggests the impact mainly affects those with pre-existing mental health conditions. On a brighter note, several studies indicate that video games can aid in combatting depression and anxiety.
5. Bad Dancing
The influence of the hit game Fortnite on dance trends is undeniable and often lamented. The game’s popular emotes, including the Dab and the Floss, have transcended the screen to real-life scenarios, thanks to footballers, pop stars, and influencers replicating them and promoting the awkward moves to impressionable fans. French Riots.
If President Macron’s concern about video games’ societal impact is genuine, perhaps he might consider this last point for immediate investigation. Despite the recurrent pattern of blaming video games for social problems, it’s important to remember that gaming, like any other activity, affects individuals differently, often based on their pre-existing conditions or environment. These nuances should not be overlooked in the broader conversation about the societal impact of video games. French Riots.
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