Learning to Love Guns? Gun-Based Gameplay’s Links to Gun Attitudes

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Abstract

Although there is a long empirical record exploring links between violent videogame play and aggression, little is known about how these games potentially affect players’ political attitudes. Specifically, with firearms frequently featured in videogames, including games where players are required to use firearms to succeed during gameplay, it is worth examining whether players’ experience with firearms relates to their attitudes toward guns and gun policy. Utilizing the General Learning Model, this survey explores whether public policy outcomes regarding gun control and public safety are related to exposure to violent video games, first-person shooter games, and realistic gun controllers. Results show that increased exposure to first-person shooter games was related to more negative attitudes concerning gun control. In addition, more experience using realistic gun controllers was associated with negative attitudes toward gun control and greater support for the idea that greater gun availability can help guarantee public safety. Thus, video game exposure may shape the gun attitudes of young people in small but important ways.

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