Gamers in Illinois woke up last weekend appalled by news of the blockbuster game Grand Theft Auto Five (GTA V) being banned in their state. The legislation, introduced and failed in 2012, is being pushed once again by local lawmakers due to recent carjacking crimes committed by teenagers. But the very little connection between the two is quite alarming. Time and time again we see our government misinterpreting the relation between two independent events, and this is a prime example of it.
Key items in this post:
1. Why lawmakers want to ban GTA and other violent video games
2. Why this is a terrible idea
3. Real solution
The Motives For Banning
Before I continue, let me explain what exactly this game is. GTA V is a 2013 action-adventure game developed by Rockstar North. Your purpose in GTA 5 is to have the most money, the best cars, and the best house. And you do that by doing missions and playing online with other players around the world. GTA V sales exceeded 140 million copies with 2020 being the best-selling year for the game since 2013. Now why would anyone wish to ban this game? The lawmakers believe that games much like GTA V, directly imprints “violent and psychological” thoughts on the youth. One such official stated that the bill would “prohibit the sale of some of these games that promote the activities that we’re suffering from in our communities”. In January itself, there were 218 reported carjackings in Chicago. Logically from an internal standpoint, the violent video games would seem to be a main factor in teen crime rates. But that is not the case.
Why Banning Video Games Is The Wrong Approach
According to the Society for Media Psychology and Technology, the “research evidence available to date indicates that violent video games have minimal impact on violent activity in society.” Other studies have suggested that violent video games help reduce stress and in some instances may even reduce crime. Studies consistently show either no correlation or a positive one. The most embarrassing part of this recent push, though, is the fact that a similar bill was tried in California and failed. In its 2011 Brown decision, the Supreme Court struck down a California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors. The court found that studies showing a link between violence and video games were methodologically flawed and unpersuasive. The worst part is that adults are reportedly more aggressive and violent than teenagers. So would this lead to the banning of R-rated movies? Watching UFC? Paintballing? No, it would not. So it cannot be the same case here. But what do we do?
The major contributing factors to juvenile crimes include peer pressure, poor education, poor socioeconomic status, substance abuse, and neglectful parents. Note that imprinting from the media is not here. Hence why our efforts should be focused elsewhere. Anywhere from improving the quality of education to focusing on the eradication of drugs in a local area. This would have legitimate effects on the crime rate. Not banning video games.
- Illinois lawmakers attempt to ban GTA V due to recent upticks in carjacking crimes, but this will not solve the problem.
- Violent video games have not been scientifically proven to be the cause of more crimes.
- There are plenty of better ways to reduce teen crime, such as confronting other major teen issues like peer pressure, poor education, poor socioeconomic status, substance abuse, and neglectful parents.