Video Games & Violence

Video Games and Violence

There has never been a casual link established between real-life violence and video game violence in any verifiable scientific study. Despite this, politicians continue to attempt to link video games and violence, drafting bills that attempt to regulate minors' access to video games, require mandatory labeling, and censor video games.
Let's look behind the rhetoric and look at some interesting facts:


Who Plays Games?

  • Gaming is a behavior practiced widely across the US, with gamers representing nearly 50% of the US population while spending  $10 billion annually on interactive entertainment.
  • The average gamer is 33 years old.
  • The average age of a video game purchaser is 38.
  • Only 31% of gamers are under age 18 and 25% are in fact over age 50.

What are the most popular games?

  • Most video games, and the most popular video games, have no violence in them at all.
  • Of the top twenty selling computer games in 2006, four were rated E or E10+, fifteen were rated T and only one was rated M.
  • Of the top ten selling console games in 2006, ten were rated E or E10+, six were rated T, and four were rated M.
  • Online, Puzzle/Board/Game Show/Trivia games account for the vast majority of games played.

How Are Games Purchased?

  • Adults are involved in over 80% of video game purchases, with parents of gamer children reporting that they are present at the sale or rental of games 91% of the time.

Industry Self Regulation

  • The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was established by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in 1994 to educate parents about game content. The voluntary ESRB system provides consumers with information about the age appropriateness and specific content of entertainment software. For more information on the ESRB, please visit the ESRB web site.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has called the ESRB "the most comprehensive of the three industry systems."
  • The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) was established in 2006 as a result of the merger between the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) and Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), two retail trade associations dedicated to self-regulation of the ESRB ratings system.
  • The Federal Trade Commission's latest secret shopper results conclusively show that the major retailers of video games are in fact inhibiting the sale of M-rated games to minors more than 80% of the time, which puts their self regulation ahead of movie theatre owners and music merchants.  For more information, please go here.

Entertainment is Free Speech

  • The US Supreme Court has held that most entertainment is protected expression under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Video Ggames and Violent Behavior

  • As video games have become more popular in the US, violent crime has decreased dramatically, particularly among youth.
  • In 2001, the US Surgeon General found that: " was extremely difficult to distinguish between the relatively small long-term effects of exposure to media violence and those of other influences."
  • In the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report on school violence, Lessons Learned: An FBI Perspective School Violence Seminar, they include a school shooter profile listing thirty factors that may be indicators of potentially devastating violent acts, but the FBI excluded playing video games from that list.
  • In a four part series on rampage killings, the New York Times examined the influence of media on offenders' actions and found: "While the killings have caused many people to point to the violent aspects of the culture, a closer look shows little evidence that video games, movies or television encouraged many of the attacks."

(Sources: The NPD Group/Point-of-Sale Information, the ESA, the ESRB, the EMA, the Federal Trade Commission, the US Surgeon General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York Times)