Linking video games to mass shootings is not just wrong, but racist, according to a new report based on a study of media coverage of violence and an experiment testing racial bias, the MIT Technology Review reports. “Both of these studies showed that … we see interest and discussion of video games of white perpetrators, but we are more comfortable looking at other explanations for other minority groups,” said James Ivory, a researcher at Virginia Tech and one of authors of the paper published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
In the first study, researchers analyzed over 200,000 news articles about 204 mass shootings obtained from Stanford University’s Mass Shootings in America project over the last four decades. It showed that journalists painted different pictures of criminal intentions depending on a shooter’s race. In fact, video games were more than eight times more likely to be mentioned in a news article regarding a suspected shooter who was white. The other was a study in which 169 college students were asked to read fictionalized accounts of a shooting and then discuss what they thought caused it. Half the participants’ stories included a mug shot of an African-American male; the other half were handed a mug shot of a white male. Patrick Markey, a coauthor of the study and the director of the Interpersonal Research Laboratory at Villanova University, said he found a small but statistically significant difference between the number of people who strongly agreed that video games were a factor in the case of the white shooter and those who said the same of the black shooter. The studies add a racial component to findings disproving a link between violent behavior and video game use.