What does it mean to say that there is no connection? Virtually every single one of the pasty psychos who have shot their classmates and teachers in the last two decades has played such games. What would count as evidence? Notes from the killers acknowledging their massive debts to Sniper Elite 4 in the plain, logical English for which murderous lunatics are known?
I cannot understand why even positing the notion of a relationship between games and the behavior of those who play them is taboo. Does anyone think that misogyny in films and television and music does not shape men’s attitudes toward women, that it has no consequences in the real world? A thousand #MeToo takes suggest otherwise. Why, then, are video games the exception? Why is it the default position of every commentator that spending hundreds, even thousands of hours acting out scenes like the one I described above has no ramifications for the way young people — the majority of them male — feel and behave? How do people who accept the existence of concepts like microaggressions and rhetorical dog-whistling convince themselves that indulging an appetite for murderous rage could have no discernible effects on the imaginations of impressionable young people?