Research has provided very little evidence that playing video games or use of other media is a useful predictor of violent crime, says Virginia Tech expert Jimmy Ivory.

Mass shooting perpetrators sometimes identify as video gamers, but Ivory told the New York Times it’s important to be aware of the base rate fallacy. Video games are quite popular, especially among men, who are much more likely to commit mass shootings. 

“It is very similar to saying the perpetrator wears shoes,” Ivory told the newspaper. “They do, but so do their peers in the general population.” 

Quoting Ivory: “Blaming video games for horrific violent crimes serves only to distract from feasible and effective crime prevention efforts," says Ivory, professor in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. "The Supreme Court of the United States has established that it is unconstitutional to censor video games or restrict their sales. Other initiatives that have been proven to reduce violent crime would be a more productive use of available government resources."

Background: Following the weekend tragedies in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump suggested that taking a firm stance against violent video games could prevent prevent future mass shootings.

About Ivory: Jimmy Ivory’s research focuses on the relationship between gender, video games, media and violence. Read his full bio here. His research is primarily conducted in the VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab.

Schedule an interview: Contact Michael Stowe at mstowe@vt.edu or 540-231-2611.

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