What If Banning Violent Video Games Makes Americans More Violent?


A Utah Democrat wants to crack down on violent video games as a way to address violent crimes:

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced a bill this week that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors.

The Supreme Court struck down a similar California law in 2011, ruling that the restriction violated the constitutional right to free speech.

Matheson’s Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act, H.R. 287, would make it illegal for anyone to ship, distribute, sell or rent a video game that does not bear a label from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) on the age-appropriateness of the game.

The ESRB, an industry self-regulatory group, already assigns age-based labels to video games, ranging from “C” for early childhood, “E” for everyone, “T” for teen, “M” for mature, and “AO” for adults only, but the system is entirely voluntary.

The bill probably won’t get far. As the article notes, the Supreme Court has already struck down one such law. “No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm…but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed,” Scalia wrote in the majority opinion of that ruling.

But here’s a question: What if violent entertainment helped reduce violent crimes?

This is a correlation, if not a causal link, between higher rates of violence in media and games and lower rates of violent crime. I think we can all concede that television, movies and video games have gotten progressively more violent over the last several decades, yet violent crime in America is indisputably in the decline:


This is true in other areas too. Gun sales have surged in America, yet gun crimes have not. Thanks to the internet, pornography is more readily available (and more mainstream) than ever before, yet sex crimes are declining.

Are gun sales, porn and violent movies/video games making crime go down? We might make a logical case for it. Perhaps those inclined to violent or sexual crimes are able to satisfy their whims in these less harmful mediums, and perhaps the proliferation of guns has better enabled Americans to defend themselves.

But that’s just conjecture. I don’t think there’s been a scientific link established, but we can say one thing for sure which is that these trends are devastating to political tropes about movies, video games, guns and porn promoting violent and sexual crimes.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Onslaught1066

    Then we’ll just have to ban them harder.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Please, don’t give them any ideas.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    Obama will tax their anger. It will be a perpetual money maker

  • sbark

    Notice who gets a full pass under Obama’s attack on the 2nd Amendment…………Hollywood, that is who surely but steadily changes our culture.
    They are a symptom of Liberalism………..and a source of money and propaganda
    They shouldnt get a full pass, as always Liberalism is the problem and Hollywood epitomises Liberalism and all its acceptence of violence and decadence.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Well, to be fair, I don’t think we should want to go after Hollywood just because Obama is going after guns.

      I don’t think Hollywood, or guns, are to blame for violent crime.

  • headward

    Some studies have shown that not having unwanted child shows for the downfall of crime. The children of single parents are the source of most of the crimes in this country. How do you solve the issue of single parents raising children who become criminals?

  • PK

    Video games, or computer simulators, were developed and used by the pentagon to increase the percentage of soldiers that would fire on enemies. It’s been very effective. Simulated violence does desensitize people to terrible acts making them more likely to respond to violence with violence. Technology is neutral. Is it good that 10 year olds are playing FPS that are rather realistic, probably not, but it’s up to the parents, not the government to shelter them from these things.