Here we fucking go again.

US President Donald Trump has taken aim at video games in the wake of two mass shootings in the country over the weekend, pointing to them as a prominent cause for the violent attacks.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said during his address.

“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. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”

This isn’t the first time government officials have used video games as a scapegoat for gun violence, and I’d wager it’s far from the last, but it’s important that we call this for what it is: a distraction from the actual issues, the main one being easy access to high powered weaponry. This pisses me off not because I enjoy playing video games, but because it’s so blatantly lazy, he might as well be telling us that he just doesn’t care.

The rise in white supremacist rhetoric has also been cited as a cause. As Paul Tassi from Forbes reports, the El Paso shooter’s manifesto is absolutely filled with racist points directed mostly at Hispanics and in some parts, uses “identical to language the President and certain Fox hosts have used in the past”.

Tweets like the one below have gained plenty of traction following the two shootings, along with some pointing out the obvious fact that video games like those in the Call of Duty franchise – which was mentioned in the El Paso shooter’s manifesto – are played by millions all around the world, yet the US is the only one with a mass shooting problem.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written this by now, but let’s cover it again for those at the back: countless studies have shown no link between video game violence and real-world violence. One of the latest papers on the topic was published on the 13th of February, 2019, and was conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and the Oxford Internet Institute. It’s been praised as one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject to date, using both subjective and objective data.

Unlike previous studies on video games and violence, this one collected data on aggressive behaviours from both the teens and their parents/carers, rather than just the former. There were 2,008 participants in total, with the gamers comprised of 14 to 15-year-old British teens.

“The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time,” Professor Andrew Przybylski said in the research. “Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”

Peter Dutton also tried to bring up video games as a cause of violence in the wake of the NZ attack because, well, it’s just the easy way out. It’s easy for people in power to point the finger at something they don’t really understand, and it’s the lazy option for those who lack the capacity to tackle the real issues causing these horrific attacks.

No more thinly veiled distractions. No more “thoughts and prayers”. There needs to be real action now or this will only continue to happen.

Image: Getty Images / Alex Wong