In the wake of two mass shootings last weekend in Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX that left at least 31 people dead, a few politicians – including President Trump – expressed concerns that gun violence may be linked to violent video games. 

“How long are we going to ignore, at the federal level particularly, where they can do something about the video game industry,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick McCarthy said Sunday on Fox News. “In this manifesto that we believe is from the shooter, this manifesto where he talks about living out his super-soldier fantasy on Call of Duty. We know the video game industry is bigger than the movie and music industry combined.”

McCarthy told Fox News hosts it is not a time to politicize the tragedies, but to take a deeper look at culture in the country to learn why these acts of violence happen. 

“Why are we allowing young people or anyone to go to a website to learn and be killed and be praised to put this manifesto out,” the Republican lieutenant asked. “Why are we allowing, 90 percent of our children is the estimate, between the ages of 12 and 17 watching video games?”

After the massacres, Trump told press at the White House Monday that he will work to reform mental health laws to better discern mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence to receive treatment, or  “if necessary, involuntary confinement.” 

Additionally, Trump proposed a plan that will “seek out and identify gun owners” on social media platforms and roll out “Red Flag Laws” – also known as extreme risk protection orders, which will permit courts to issue temporary orders prohibiting people who display high risk of danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms. 

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society, this includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace – it is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” Trump said. “We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.” 

Members of the Major League Gaming (MLG) community firmly disagree there is a correlation between violent video games and real world brutality. Professional Halo player, Cory Sloss, 27 (or “@Str8SicK”) believes these comments from politicians are unfair to the gaming community because most play “for the competitive nature.” 

Sloss began playing video games at the age of four and competes professionally in tournaments nationwide, bragging nearly 20,000 followers on Twitter and over 16,000 on Twitch.

“I think this is absolutely without a doubt the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life,” Sloss responded in an email. “I grew up on first person shooter games at a young age and it has never given me a thought whatsoever about hurting anyone in the real world.”

Improvements in executive functioning, attention and vigilance and job-related skills are a few cognitive benefits of gaming, according to Peter Gray, Ph.D., a research professor at Boston College. 

“Many studies indicate that video games improve job performance, especially for jobs that require good eye-hand coordination, attention, excellent working memory, and quick decision-making,” Gray wrote in a Psychology Today article. 

For over 14 years, Sloss has competed in tournaments professionally and experienced some of these benefits first hand. Meeting friends and networking connections along the way, including his fiance, Sloss now streams his gameplay full time on Twitch. Through subs (subscriptions) and donors, popular Twitch streamers are able to make a career out of it. 

Gamer Cory Sloss via EsportsMedia

“So many people have been able to completely change their life because of video games,” Sloss said. “People who play them casually and for fun probably use it as an outlet to get away from all the negative impact in their life, others like myself play the game as a career, which can actually help you achieve a better life if you strive to be the best.” 

The Halo competitor added that “prize money can be earned as a life-changer,” and that “you can learn skills such as marketing, public speaking during interviews and traveling the world.”

The first Halo, released on Xbox in 2001, garnished a loyal fanbase that followed the series as it unfolded to Halo 5. After MLG was founded in 2002, the first tournament was a Halo tournament in New York two years later. The game is a “military science fiction first person shooter” with numerous award-winning graphic novels. 

According to Common Sense Media, Halo should be for those 18 and above, while parents have rated it 11 and up.

Halo has never negatively affected his psyche, Sloss affirmed. Oppositely, he believes gaming is “a way for people to stay safe from all the hatred in the world.” Referring to the mass shootings, Sloss said: “it’s almost safer to just sit [inside] and play a game.” 

While video games will continue to be subjected to research and studies for both positive and negative effects, politicians and lawmakers remain split on how to reduce mass shootings in the U.S. According to the AP, most Senate Democrats agree with red flag laws, while support from Republicans is on the rise. Whether violent video games will face more scrutiny from politicians – as of now – there are no immediate legislatures in place to regulate gaming content.

Written ByJamie Joseph

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