Videogames don't make you hurt people

Videogames have always been in the frame. Gus Van Sant's fictionalised account of an American high school shooting depicts one of the killers playing a first person shooter before going on his spree, implying a perceived equivalence between the pixellated monsters of the game and the human beings whose lives the he is summoning the nerve to end. Van Sant clearly believes that virtual violence begets actual violence, and he is very far from alone.

Is he right? Game writers can generally be relied upon to answer this in unison: no way! A psychopath is a psychopath, whether it be the words of god, Tommy Vercetti, or Jean Claude Van Damme that prompt him to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, however, a weighty and credible body of research disagrees with this view, and books like this one are forever cropping up and making our hobby look bad.

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