Triangle-based video-game developer fights back against link-to-violence claims

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Following this weekend's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump again took aim at the video-game industry.

"We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and violent video games that are now commonplace," Trump said earlier this week.

The president had shared similar sentiments following the Newtown and Parkland shootings, tweeting after the former: "Video game violence & glorification must be stopped - it is creating monsters!"

Trump is not the only politician to focus on violence portrayed in video games following the shooting; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made similar comments a day before the president's remarks.

"It's just incredibly disheartening to hear these kind of comments," said Mike Sanders, the director and CEO of Raleigh-based Puny Human.

Sanders has been with the company since 2007, and spent time at Epic Games and Red Storm Entertainment, both in Cary. He is one of the thousands of people in the Triangle who works in the video-game industry.

"It's very off-base. It doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel genuine, and it doesn't feel like something that somebody who is well-informed in the industry would say," Sanders said.

Though some studies have shown a short-term increase in aggressive thoughts and feelings after playing video games, there is no link between video games and gun violence.

"They look scary. But research just doesn't support that there's a link" to violent behavior, added Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University.

Markey's research showed that men who commit severe acts of violence play video games less frequently than the average male.

"You find in plenty of other countries, there's extremely violent video games that are consumed there, but their murder per capita or their mass shootings per capita are much, much lower here than in the States," Sanders said, as he referred to findings that people in Japan and South Korea spend more on average than people in the United States on video games, while having a far lower gun-violence rate.

For parents who are concerned about content in video games, the ESRB system provides ratings that describe the nature of the games, and some consoles include parental controls.
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