White House Chases Tenuous Claims Between Video Games and Violence

Asserting that Halo is bad isn't the same things as offering evidence


During a press conference earlier today unveiling his proposals for new gun-control regulations, President Obama said he will ask Congress for $10 million to fund a study by the Centers for Disease Control on the impact of video games and "media images."

It's a reasonable enough request. Gaming industry groups have said they'd welcome serious scientific research into the issue, though it's entirely unclear what the results of that research will lead to. And after what happened in Newtown, Conn., everyone—from video game makers to movie producers to local news outlets to gun manufacturers—should be engaged in serious soul-searching.

But don't expect new revelations when it comes to video games. Psychologists have for years been looking at whether there are links between the fantasy violence of video games and real-world violence—and with rare exceptions, they haven't found a connection. In 2010, the Review of General Psychology, which is the American Psychological Association's journal, published a special issue on the topic. While one psychologist did connect fantasy and real-world violence in certain personalities, the most compelling research found that link for the rest of society to be, at best, specious.