66 Percent of Americans Say People Should Be Allowed to Play Violent Video Games

The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that most Americans do not think the government should prohibit people from playing violent video games. While surely Americans believe different standards should apply to children than adults, 66 percent of Americans think government should allow people to play violent video games, while 31 percent say the government should prohibit this activity.

Support for the freedom to play violent video games is highly correlated with age. Eighty-two percent of people under age 35 and 70 percent of those ages 35-43 say the government should allow people to play violent video games while just half, 50 percent, of Americans ages 55 and over agree.

Unmarried men (83 percent) are considerably more likely than married men (68 percent) and both married and unmarried women (64 percent) to oppose a government ban on violent video games. In general, men are more likely to favor allowing violent video games than women, by a margin of 72 to 61 percent, nevertheless majorities of both support allowing it.

Income is also correlated with public opinion on violent video games. For instance, among Americans making less than $30,000 a year, 46 percent want the government to prohibit Americans from playing violent video games, compared to 26 percent among those making more than $30,000 a year. Seventy-one percent of those making more than $30,000 a year and 52 percent of those making less, oppose banning video games.

Majorities of political groups favor allowing violent video games, although some are more supportive than others. Independents who lean Republican are the most likely to believe violent video games should be allowed (77 percent) compared to 61 percent of Democrats. Roughly two-thirds of non-partisan independents and Democratic-leaning independents oppose a ban as do 70 percent of Republicans. Nearly eight in 10 self-identified libertarians say the government should allow this activity while just over half of progressives feel the same (78 percent to 56 percent).

Asked about their own video game use, 65 percent of respondents told Reason-Rupe they rarely or never play video games, while 34 percent said they play frequently or occasionally.  Among those who report playing frequently, 82 percent say government should allow violent video games, while 17 percent want them prohibited. In contrast, among those who never play video games 54 percent say they should be allowed and 42 percent say they should be banned.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted Dec 4-8 2013 interviewed 1011 adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.

Correction: This post has corrected the colors in the bottom graph to match the graph legend.

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  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Only 66%? What the hell is wrong with people in this country? But I'm willing to bet the 31% in favor of banning them are an odd alliance of social conservatives and anti-gun progressives.

  • John Thacker||

    Judging from the poll, it's largely older Democratic women.

  • Paul.||

    Only 66%? What on earth do 33% of Americans believe should be the solution to disallow people from playing "violent video games"?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Registration with the government bureaucracy of course

  • ||

    I'm sure they put as much thought into that as they do with any proposed ban. Meaning: absolutely zero. They think government bans are magical. Because they're abject morons.

  • Cyto||

    A lareger percentage of Americans approved of the invasion of Iraq as we dropped the bombs. Hard to wrap your head around something like that. More people support actual, real-world killing people type violence than would support merely allowing people to play make-believe violent games if they wanted to.

  • ||

  • Killaz||

    My nieces are all gamers in their twenties now. When one of them was five, we caught her playing Rise of the Triads in the middle of the night. In order to do that she had to teach herself the DOS commands to load up the executable as well as a set of configuration variables. Still a very smart girl.

  • Sudden||

    Is that neice hot? Cuz a chick that could navigate MS-DOS at the age of five to play Rise of the Triads sounds like wifey material. It's about time I gave the whole marraige racket another whirl.

  • Killaz||

    She's the reddish brunette on the right:

    http://goo.gl/yg5N3Y

    She named her pet Jayne after the Firefox character.

    However, she lives in China. So, that should shoot down any romantic prospects.

  • Killaz||

    Firefly character. I was never in to the show.

  • Dave Krueger||

    I find it interesting that someone can argue that one person induced to violence by a video game trumps the fact that a million people manage to play the same game without ever becoming violent. If that logic is legitimate, then virtually every activity on the planet could be banned.

  • ||

    Now you're getting it, Dave!

  • Michael S. Langston||

    It's like pro-choice advocates claiming 13 year old's shouldn't need to get parental permission to get an abortion (even though in most states where the very young can do this, they cannot get a tattoo without parental permission and without question they cannot seek other medical services without parental involvement) based solely upon the idea that the father of the daughter in question, could be either a) the rapist or b) so strictly religious/conservative that they would refuse to consent.

    So the percentage of fathers who not only rape their daughters but also get them pregnant has to be well below 1% of the population and while those so religious they would refuse a daughter's abortion request no matter what is likely much higher than less than 1%, it's likely smaller than 25% of the population (keep in mind Catholics are supposed to be anti-abortion, yet 1/2 of them vote pro-choice).

    Another parallel? 30K (only 1/2 murder, other 1/2 self-inflicted/accidental) "gun" deaths annually - a very small number given population totals and firearms' availability - yet given as the reason we must ban guns.

    Opposite of this - fast forward to O-care and ask why 5% (14 million) losing insurance is "nothing to worry about" but .01% of deaths or the extremely rare mass shooting is a crisis/epidemic/disease/evil...

    Land of the free - so long as the activity you wish to engage in isn't used for negative purposes by more than 8 people in the US.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    It's like pro-choice advocates claiming 13 year old's shouldn't need to get parental permission to get an abortion (even though in most states where the very young can do this, they cannot get a tattoo without parental permission and without question they cannot seek other medical services without parental involvement) based solely upon the idea that the father of the daughter in question, could be either a) the rapist or b) so strictly religious/conservative that they would refuse to consent.

    Huh?

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    66%? We are doomed.

  • PH2050||

    The bar graph doesn't look right to me for some reason. Should the colors be reversed?

  • Dave Krueger||

    The bottom graph looks like the colors are reversed.

  • PH2050||

    They fixed it.

  • Winston||

    How many times do you have to repost the same poll?

    How about a poll asking people what programs they want to cut? Or asking them to state what programs they would want to cut?

    Or see if people would prefer Hillary or Fauxcahontas to Rand Paul or Amash?

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Among Hillary, Elizabeth Warpath, Paul and Amash, the average person has probably only heard of Hillary. OK, maybe Hillary and Paul.

    I don't think I would have heard of Amash if I didn't visit Reason.

  • DrAwkward||

    Then we can go after all those violent movies and books. Especially those damned comic books the kids are in to. There's so much of this material out there we'll probably have to burn them in great bonfires.

  • Winston||

    Wait a majority of senior citizen want to prohibit violent video games? I wonder why they didn't try when they were younger?

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Because when they were younger and their genitalia still worked, they were masturbating while playing Custer's Revenge on Atari.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Nearly eight in 10 self-identified libertarians say the government should allow this activity while just over half of progressives feel the same (78 percent to 56 percent).

    I was going to focus on this part to rant about how much I hate progressives, but you know what? Even though the number for 'self-identified libertarians' is much higher than for progs, it's still not as high as it should be.

    What kind of person would claim to be a libertarian, but answer anything other than "Of course!" when asked if violent video games should be allowed? I don't think anybody who posts here would fall into that category. Do any of you know people like this in real life?

  • Raven Nation||

    Just a thought: with the continuing (& increasing discontent) with the Republican party, it could well be that a lot of conservatives are abandoning the party b/c it is too statist. Thus, they could well think of themselves as libertarians without completing understanding what that means. Some will undoubtedly drift back to more control-type conservatism. It would be interesting to see how many others could be brought further down the libertarian path.

    I know when I was fairly new to libertarian-style thought, I held to some views that would embarrass me now.

  • Sudden||

    That's why I've taken to Epi's standardized response when explaining my libertarianism: "I am a heroin in vending machines located within primary schools type of libertarian."

  • Raven Nation||

    Heh, heh, heh. Certainly an eye-opening response.

    I guess I'm also interested in persuading as many conservatives as I can to follow the consequences of their own logic to embrace more libertarian positions.

  • Sudden||

    I do the same. I've got a few buddies now that self-identify as libertarian, but still hold many a more traditional or maybe paleocon belief system. The irony is that many of them are more libertine than I.

  • Raven Nation||

    Cool. Always better if people figure things out for themselves, motivated by a few friendly prompts. People tend to be more grounded if they do it that way rather than responding to someone else's "preaching."

  • Michael S. Langston||

    10-15 years ago too - there was an influx of ex-liberals claiming the libertarian banner.... I recall several occasions where I went from pleasant surprise at hearing someone call themselves a libertarian to telling them firmly that they are not because they simultaneously thought they were libertarians but were cool with things like banning smoking in private restaurants.

    While I don't want to go all True-Scotsman on anyone and am happy if those people do move more towards freedom - I only thought when I heard this (for multiple people) that I have enough problems explaining that when I say I am a libertarian I'm really not an R or D, that I don't need others claiming they are on my side when they obviously don't believe in property rights.

    But now liberals think libertarians are basically just R's so by default they are completely evil - instead of liberals saying they're libertarians it's conservatives.

    In the end - let's just hope we get more converts from wherever they originated :)

  • Cyto||

    The true Scotsman thing is tough - just take the smoking ban as an example. I am firmly opposed to the state banning smoking in restaurants - it is pretty much the polar opposite of the libertarian ideal.

    And yet, one cannot help but notice how much more pleasant an evening out is without the smoke filled rooms. And pre-ban there were not really many alternatives provided by the free market. "Smoking section" restaurants were not really any more smoke free than any other restaurants. About the only place you saw a difference was in high end establishments that had powerful filters and separate rooms for smoking - particularly aimed at cigar smokers.

    I really hate it when the statists are given a valid counter-example.

  • Paul.||

    What kind of person would claim to be a libertarian, but answer anything other than "Of course!"

    Bill Maher, self-identified libertarian.

  • MJGreen||

    Whew! I'm glad 66% of Americans have my back. Or else I might think I was doing something wrong.

  • Scotticus Finch||

    "Should the government allow"? We've even lost the Rule pollsters.

  • Scotticus Finch||

    Rule = Rupe

  • Raven Nation||

    Non-sarcastic response: phrasing for poll questions is always key. Do you think the response would have been different (in either direction), if the question was something like, "Should the government regulate video game content?"

  • Scotticus Finch||

    I think the phrasing is important in conceding that there are two options in the world: what the government allows and what they do not.

    I have no idea if it would change the responses, but the question as written certainly reinforces the idea.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Any real poll should have different phrasings that they use randomly, including different orderings of possible answers (if multiple choice).

    Of course any real poll is being paid for and most of the public is unlikely to ever see the internal workings since some other entity paid for the information.

    But as many polls are now done solely for the news headlines, their accuracy isn't as important as it is when a client specifically needs information to base future decisions on.

  • RightNut||

    Wow 31% want violent games banned? For your next poll please ask how people feel about homicidal sex-bots corrupting America's youth.

  • MSimon||

    But what about the RIGHTS of those who think it shouldn't be allowed? What about them. Huh?

  • ||

    I would just like to point out that video games aren't actually "violent". They just portray simulated violence. Playing a video game isn't any more violent than reading a book that contains portrayals of violence. If video games make people more violent, then so does reading the Illiad.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    Or the Old Testament.

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