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Following two deadly mass shootings in as many days over the weekend, politicians have yet again placed the blame on violent video games.
The excuse has been a favorite of politicians, particularly those against stricter gun laws, for years. Despite a complete lack of evidence—and heaps of research to the contrary—dozens of lawmakers choose, time and again, to go after gaming when gun violence strikes our country. In response to being blamed for the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, gamers took to the web to express their own opinions on the matter in the most 2019 way possible: through memes.
Video game memes about gun violence
Gunmen: We're doing this because we're racist.— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) August 6, 2019
Trump: See, it's video games.
Little known fact: World War 2 was started because Germany's Minecraft server got griefed. Concrete proof video games cause violence— Dolan Dark (@DolanDark) August 6, 2019
Hey guys, I found the connection between video game violence and mass shootings: pic.twitter.com/kSU2dtxelG— The Dondi (@NotTheDondi) August 5, 2019
Most of the memes poked fun at the ludicrous claim, which has been repeatedly debunked. As it turns out, the average American spends less on video games than people in South Korea and China, yet our gun violence vastly surpasses that of any other country. A Vox statistic illustrating this research was widely shared.
In the hours and days following the shootings, multiple hashtags surfaced on Twitter. #VideoGamesAreNotToBlame and #GamersAreGood both began trending, as gamers flocked to the defense of their favorite games.
Memes illustrating the sweet and wholesome things many video games contain rose in response to the accusations from President Trump and other politicians. “For the record, I played a shit ton of Zelda games growing up, and have yet to walk into a random stranger’s house and start breaking pottery,” one Twitter user wrote.
Ah yes. Ye olde video game violence argument. By that way of thinking, I should also be a serial player (dating sims), a civic planner (cities skylines), and a licensed surgeon (surgeon simulator).— Aria🎶 (@arillusine) August 5, 2019
can someone tell Trump you can build walls in Fortnite so that he changes his opinion about video games— EMG | Hax$ (@ssbmhax) August 6, 2019
I wonder which video game inspired Trump to be a greedy racist asshole— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) August 6, 2019
Even as many gamers mocked those spreading the idea that video games are to blame for violence, others chose to share stories of the good video games have done for themselves or others. “I blame Minecraft for teaching me to be creative and use my imagination,” one user wrote.
We’ve created an escape from the daily hell that is becoming our political climate, driven by bible thumping white supremacy. You wanna tell me that’s the problem. I’ve played very COD out there, Fortnite for all 10 seasons, Halo, Gears of War, and so do my friends.— Chrispy (@_Chrispy35) August 4, 2019
In my experience of video games they have brought together a community of people who have supported me at my lowest point. When I was in need the video game community picked me up. So you can fuck off if you think video games inspire violence! #BCITW— beardyr0ry 🏴 (@beardyr0ry) August 4, 2019
Video games are never to blame. Most gamers including myself have made fantastic friends through video games, and they are no reason for the shootings. Do you think that meeting the objective of a game which may have violence will cause a mass shooting?#VideogamesAreNotToBlame— Thomas Killeen (@ThomasKilleen4) August 7, 2019
Despite the overwhelming number of voices speaking out against the claim, we are all but assured a similar response from politicians next time gun violence strikes our country. When it comes down to it, it appears that politicians find it far easier to blame video games for violence than to actually do something to protect their constituents.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.