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In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Norway by a self-described gamer, some people are riding the old "Do video games cause violence?" hobby horse. Doom co-creator John Carmack doesn't believe that games turn people into killers. If anything, he says, they reduce aggression.
"And I really think, if anything, there is more evidence to show that the violent games reduce aggression and violence. There have actually been some studies about that, that it’s cathartic," Carmack told IndustryGamers. "If you go to QuakeCon and you walk by and you see the people there [and compare that to] a random cross section of a college campus, you’re probably going to find a more peaceful crowd of people at the gaming convention. I think it’s at worst neutral and potentially positive."
I think it might be a reach to say that gaming actually makes people more peaceful. I'd like to believe it but I can't. It's as much of a leap in logic as saying that games turn people into killers. Both arguments consider games a lot more powerful than they are. I think video games are pretty low on the list of things that determine someone's personality. Anders Breivik was batshit crazy before he ever touched Modern Warfare 2.
Still, after events like the attacks in Norway, everyone looks for the easy solution. There's no time for nuance. Blame must be assigned. For example, Norwegian retailer Coop decided to pull MW2 and other games from their shelves earlier this week. If only stopping violence were that simple.