Vox Misses the Mark on Video Games and Gun Deaths

Why wasn't Brazil included?


Following the weekend's mass shootings, Reason has been a vocal critic of fact-free attempts to blame real-world violence on video games.

Meanwhile, others have turned to data manipulation as they try to pivot the argument back toward gun control measures that would violate Americans' Second Amendment rights as surely as video game censorship would violate the First. On Monday, Vox published this graph calling the United States an "outlier" in gun deaths among countries with lots of gamers, which quickly made the rounds on social media:

This data doesn't appear to be inaccurate, but there is an omission worth noting here.*

This chart leaves out one major video game market: Brazil. Brazil is the largest game market in Latin America and currently ranks 13th worldwide in game industry revenue. It would most certainly be a top-10 country if its taxes and tariffs didn't make importing games down there so hard. (In fact, it has a huge game piracy issue because of the taxes.) It probably didn't make Vox's cutoff for revenue, but it's definitely one of the top countries for video game players, even if the industry as a whole doesn't earn quite so much there, and it's a fast-growing market. Smart game companies (especially those who make online competitive games) deliberately put characters or elements in their games designed to appeal to Brazilian players.

America's gun violence rate absolutely pales in comparison to Brazil's. If Vox had included Brazil on the chart it would have to change the scale entirely. Brazil had three times as many gun homicides as the United States in 2017—about 43,000 compared to 15,500 in the United States.

None of this is evidence that video games actually do contribute to violence in Brazil (or in the United States). Rather, the way Vox approached this gun violence data was designed to make the United States appear to be an outlier among all countries. In reality, Brazil is a country with a similar love of video games and a much worse gun violence problem. There, just as in America, people blame the problem on too much gun access, even though the country has strict gun controls that criminals just bypass.

Some gun control advocates are strong supporters of studies that claim easy access to these weapons contributes to America's high suicide rate. But when you look at Brazil, which is also awash with guns, the suicide rate is much lower:

*CORRECTION: This post has been edited to correct a mistake on our end in analyzing the "violent gun deaths" part of the Vox chart. The deaths per 100,000 people on the chart were calculated only from gun-related homicides and did not include suicides. We incorrectly interpreted the chart's label as including both. 

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  1. After a quick skim of this article, I believe Shackleford is right. Brazil is the cause of our gun violence. And I’m tweeting this out right now.

    1. No butt jokes, please.

      1. Brazilian butt jokes? I think you’ve got it backward.

  2. Vox misses the mark….. on pretty much everything. they fucking employ Matt yglesias for christsake. Finding an article they hit the mark on is an actual challenge.

    1. For every political issue, there’s a Vox article on it that’s simple, detailed, and utterly wrong.

    2. Yeah. Everything in that headline after “Vox” is redundant.

      1. “Everything you need to know”…Vox explains it for you.

        1. “And why that’s a good thing.”

  3. “We’d be better off if media outlets were careful to extract that information.”

    Like they’d do something that doesn’t advance the political narrative, silly

    1. Yeah. There are occasionally outlets that are interested in providing objective information. Vox is only interested in promoting an agenda, and are happy to trim out everything that doesn’t conform to the narrative.

  4. To say that Vox “missed the mark” is too generous. I’d say they hit exactly what they were aiming at: advancing the cause of gun control.

  5. This is not to say we shouldn’t care about suicides, but it’s a very different public health issue than mass murders

    I’m not really that sure it is different. some of the recent mass murders are different because the shooter has chosen to be caught. but one of the reasons it’s taken so long to figure out what makes mass shooters tick (assuming we’ve even done that which I doubt) is cuz they all seemed to kill themselves at the end of their spree. And that told me that those murder sprees were in a real sense just their means of committing suicide – ie take a lot of people out with them.

    1. It truly is a selfless form of suicide. Instead of just focusing on yourself, you involve as many people as possible to share in the experience.

      1. And you’ve just discovered the psychological drive behind socialism

    2. That doesn’t really change the fact that they are two different issues. The “blaze of glory” suicides are a tiny minority among both suicides and homicides.

      You might as well point to suicide bombers and say suicide and terrorism aren’t really that different

  6. expectations of Vox seem awry.

  7. We shouldn’t be lumping in suicides with homicides

    And yet the CDC has been doing it for years.

    1. It’s almost as if the CDC is trying to mislead the public.

    2. And yet the CDC has been doing it for years.

      So have the Clintons . . .

      1. Boom. But seriously, the CDC’s web app tool (which I’ve used for years and is still up, I’m happy to see) has a parent category of the ‘intent or manner of injury’ they have the category of “Violence”.

        As sub categories under Violence they list:

        Homicide and Legal Intervention and Suicide.

        It is very clearly categorized WITHIN violence. Never understood it.

        1. All of those are violence in the academic sense.

          (If someone is shot in pure legitimate self-defense, it’s still “violence”.

          It’s just justified and morally correct violence.

          Suicide is violence against the self, pretty undeniably.

          The problem here is not “violence” as a category [roughly “human action intended to cause injury”], but using it as a synonym for wickedness towards others.

          The CDC has … pretty decent reasons to separate “intentional human acts” from its other categories of harms, like disease and weather and accident.

          I don’t know of a way to do that that can prevent people from trivially taking that number and pretending it’s all murderz, though.)

      2. spicy

  8. Brazil had three times as many gun homicides as the United States in 2017—about 43,000 compared to 15,500 in the United States.

    And noting that Brazil has a smaller population than the States (although not as small as I expected: total pop ~212 million) that’s also a significant number.

  9. “…it’s a very different public health issue than mass murders and should not be lumped into the same data when we’re trying to explore solutions for these killings.”

    Now listen, if they don’t conflate, the numbers just wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressive. And then there’d be so much less to promote their agenda.

  10. Honestly, if you find yourself reading Vox, you’re doing it wrong.

    1. Unless you spend the entire time pointing and laughing.

    2. I don’t think that’s fair. Vox has some great stuff. For example this Ezra Klein piece from mid-2016 still holds up.

      It’s time to admit Hillary Clinton is an extraordinarily talented politician


      1. Stop it please. I’m in a public place and can’t afford to pee my pants.

      2. She is extraordinarily talented. She was able to do things that no other politician has been able to do in the history of the country.

        1. Lose to Trump.

  11. Vox said something that’s not true? Stop the presses! Alert the millennials!

  12. The commonality among the countries with high murder by gun rates is disproportionate gang activity stemming from drugs. The left doesn’t want to focus on this though because (a) it highlights race and (b) the facts demonstrate how ineffective laws to control gun activity by criminals are going to be.

  13. Interesting that when the Left does comparisons of firearms homicides, they always compare the U.S. to the countries of Europe and (parts of) Asia. We’re not in Europe or Asia, we’re in the Americas – countries that were established at the same time, had the same types of immigration, and generally had slavery. Compared to the rest of the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. has a pretty low firearms homicide rate.

  14. Watch out Shackleford – Soave is going to be on your arse for reporting on Vox’ reporting. Report on Vox’ reporting too many times and that’s harrassment!

    Its so sad that the United States doesn’t provide protections for its gay creators.

  15. I’m a gorehound and if you mess with my entertainment I’m gonna have to go over to the gun nut side.

  16. ” There [Brazil], just as in America, people blame the problem on too much gun access, even though the country has strict gun controls that criminals just bypass.”

    The Firearms Blog frequently runs articles from police reports about DIY (do it yourself) and “craft guns” — homemade or made in small workshops, often showing assembly lines in shops the size of say a typical car repair garage. Sometimes in Australia they are “bikie” club motot cycle garages making MAC-10 submachine guns on the side. They even had an article on a Brazilian drug dealer mail order business shipping cocaine to individuals outside Brazil; if you thought it could get past cusoms inspection, he could ad a MAC-10 to the order. And yes, Brazil has very restrictive laws on legal guns, and just as in Mexico, a lot of otherwise lawabiding citizens patronize the black market in guns out of concern for their ability to defend themselves. And it looks like the more the restrictions grow, the more the black market grows. Given that the simplest repeating firearm that can be replicated in a home workshop is the blowback operated full automatic pistol-caliber submachine gun modeled off the US MAC-10, British STEN, or Swedish Carl Gustav M45, the future of gun control don’t look pretty.

  17. In fairness, some of the Brazilian data is tainted by their cultural attitudes against suicide. Some fraction, potentially a large fraction, of those homicides should be classified as suicides.

  18. Not to mention that removing guns from the equation does absolutely nothing to limit suicide, it just changes the method people use. As evidenced by Australia.

  19. “they deliberately chose to compare game revenue not with total homicide rates but specifically with all gun deaths—including suicides.” <- This is blatantly false. In 2017 there were 39,773 total gun deaths and 14,542 gun homicides. 14542 / (324500000/100000) is 4.5 which is exactly what they show, which proves that they're only using homicides and not suicides. If they had used total gun deaths, they would have shown the US at 12.3.

  20. “We’d be better off if media outlets were careful”

    And we’d be better off if fish caught, gutted and cooked themselves.

    And if the rivers flowed with gin, like in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

  21. Video games has not to be blamed. South Korea plays games all the time and there arent gun violence there. I love playing video games Visit my website for any Pogo games club pogo, pogo games sign and pogo games app related problems or call +1-877-870-1221.

  22. There’s nothing we can do about video games, as this is made for us only. The culprit is the person itself, he should know what is right for him or what’s not. However, here is my favorite action game. I also play this game but in the limit.

  23. Oh look, a dependable libertarian troll creates the weakest possible argument connecting violence and video game sales. Not because it’s actually a libertarian position to restrict video game sales. Not because a single random data point added to a scatterplot changes the results of the scatterplot. And not because the author is qualified in any way to make statistical arguments. No, we get the argument because We Love Gun Freedom and We Want To Shift The Blame for Gun Violence To Someone Else. If you want to argue a point, then argue a point. Don’t argue some other point badly and ineffectually.

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