Myths about Games and Violence

The American public and the U.S. Supreme Court agree: video games should be protected as art and free speech. But some lawmakers think that the games we play with friends, family and community members across the Internet should be restricted. 

We know this is wrong -- and we know you do, too! We defend video games from these attacks by debunking myths about video game violence and regulations.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) took a hard look at the facts about video games and violence as well as what experts have to say about the issue in the Essential Facts about Games and Violence report. Here are the facts you should know: 

  • The U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Surgeon General, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have the same conclusion: there is no causal link between violent programming and violent behavior.
  • Violent crime has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, despite an increase in the number of video games being played. 
  • Parents impose time usage limits on video games more than any other form of entertainment. In fact, 83% of parents place time limits on video game playing.
  • 85% of parents are aware of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and 88% of parents whose children play games believe the ESA rating system is either very or somewhat helpful in choosing games for their children.

What does science say?

Many individuals in the scientific community have debunked myths about games and violence. Take a look below at excerpts from different studies on this issue.

"This analysis does not find support for either a causal or correlational link between violent media and subsequent aggression in viewers. Why the belief of media violence effects persists despite inherent weaknesses of research is somewhat of an open question."

Ferguson, Christopher J. and John Kimburn, "The Public Health Risks of Media Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review."Journal of Pediatrics 154 (2009): 759-763. Web. 10 Aug. 2011.


"For most kids and most parents, the bottom-line results of our research can be summed up in a single word: relax. While concerns about the effects of violent video games are understandable, they’re basically no different from the unfounded concerns previous generations had about the new media of their day."

"It’s clear that the 'big fears' bandied about in the press ― that violent video games make children significantly more violent in the real world… ― are not supported by the current research, at least in such a simplistic form. That should make sense to anyone who thinks about it. After all, millions of children and adults play these games, yet the world has not been reduced to chaos and anarchy."

"The strong link between video game violence and real world violence, and the conclusion that video games lead to social isolation and poor interpersonal skills, are drawn from bad or irrelevant research, muddleheaded thinking and unfounded, simplistic news reports."

Kutner, Lawrence, PH.D. and Cheryl K. Olson, ScD. Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Video Games And What Parents Can Do. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. Print.


 "…the research results on the effects of violent video games have been inconsistent and equivocal. Our second conclusion is that none of these studies meets the minimal research criteria that the courts have established as necessary to be probative in legal context. For example, there has been no research to address the question of whether violent video games are more harmful than other forms of violent media. In addition, no research has been done on whether violent video games cause long-term or short-term effects."

Donahue-Turner, Beth, Psy.D. and Amiram Elwork. Constitutional Kombat: Psychological Evidence Used to Restrict Video-game Violence. Diss. Widener University, 2009. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2010. Print.


Want to read more? Visit The ESA’s website for more information and research debunking myths about video games and violence.

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