Dear President Trump: Video Games Are So Much More Than 'Violent' | Opinion

On Monday, President Donald Trump did what he does best: He ignored science, lied to the American people and tried to shift blame so his fervent base had something to attack while ignoring the real problem. In the wake of two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Trump didn't talk about serious gun reform or why anyone would need an assault rifle in 2019. No, he pointed the finger at video games.

I'm only 36, but I'm exhausted from a lifetime of having this argument with people who don't know what they're talking about.

"We must stop the glorification of violence in our society," Trump said from the White House. "This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence."

I could sit here and refute what Trump is saying, but it's honestly not worth my time or yours. He's wrong. Study after study has proved there is no link between violent video games and violent people. Video games are popular the world over, but only America sees these horrific mass shootings again and again. More than 166 million adults in the United States play games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and there isn't anarchy in the streets.

Trump's attack on video games is a distraction, a shell game to keep us focused on the latest scapegoat rather than attacking the root of the problem. He doesn't want us to have a serious conversation about firearms in our nation.

However, with video games thrust onto the national stage and with so many new eyes on them, there is a conversation to be had that starts with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's comments from Sunday on Fox News.

"But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others—I've always felt that is a problem for future generations and others," he said. "We've watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals."

Again, the studies show the exact opposite of what McCarthy is saying, but I want to talk about McCarthy saying that video games "dehumanize" people. In a week where I've listened to a lot of people be wrong, this is the biggest lie I've heard.

When it comes to connecting us as people, video games are the most powerful medium there is.

In the same way that not every movie is a horror movie, not every video game is a first-person shooter. Video games are enjoying a renaissance as an artform. Talented creators from around the world are creating amazing experiences to help us understand one another in ways unimaginable before.

No matter the mood you're in, there's a game for you. Some look as real as a film, some rival Pixar in the animation department, and some are so abstract that you and I would find completely different meanings in them. All of them are works of art that people felt they had to make.

Celeste looks and controls like Super Mario Bros. but challenges players to learn about and deal with anxiety and depression. In Gone Home, players find handwritten notes while exploring an empty house and unravel the story of their sister's coming out and her first relationship. That Dragon, Cancer takes us on a family's autobiographical journey through the life of their terminally ill son.

These games—and the hundreds of games like them—help players be better humans. Maybe it's understanding an experience they've never had, or maybe it's just seeing that they are not alone. In the end, they've learned something, whether they laughed or cried.

And yes, that applies to violent video games.

Trump Remarks Shoootings
President Donald Trump makes remarks in the White House on August 5. "We must stop the glorification of violence in our society," Trump said. "This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace." Alex Wong/Getty

Spec Ops: The Line was a military shooter critically acclaimed for actually making players question if they—as a U.S. operative—were on the right side of the conflict. Sci-fi game Dead Space saw protagonist and everyman Isaac Clarke have to battle all manner of monster, and its sequel opened with him in a mental hospital due to the ordeal. Even this fall's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is ditching the bombastic blockbuster luster for a more grounded story, where players are rewarded for correctly identifying threats and not shooting everything that moves.

I haven't even touched on how games like Fortnite give players a community to hang out with online, how more than 80,000 video game fans will gather in Seattle at the end of the month for a convention called PAX West, or how technological advances like the Xbox Adaptive Controller make it so many disabled people can play.

Video games aren't making killers. Video games are making better people. Perhaps Trump and McCarthy should try one.

Greg Miller is the award-winning host of Kinda Funny Games Daily, a deep dive into video game news. You can find the show every weekday on and podcast services.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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