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International data shows no correlation between video game spending and gun crime

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

After tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last week, politicians and pundits tend to call out violent media including video games as elements that may play a role in these incidents. But data from 10 countries evinces "no evident, statistical correlation" between a nation's video game spending and its incidence of gun-related homicides, reports The Washington Post's WorldViews blog.

The blog compared the spending in the world's 10 largest video game markets — China, the U.S., Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, the U.K., France, South Korea and the Netherlands — to the average amount of gun-related homicides in those countries, as measured by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The U.S. came in at number one in the latter category by far, with more than 3 gun-related murders per 100,000 people; the other nine countries came in at 0.5 murders per 100,000 people or less. Here's the graph comparing the two elements:


It's worth noting that the video game numbers account for overall spending, not just sales of video games that could be called violent. And the popularity of games by genre, including violent games such as shooters, varies across the countries in question.

Even so, it appears from the graph that the high incidence of shootings in the U.S. isn't related to the amount of money that the nation spends on video games. The other countries on the list all have much more stringent regulations on civilian ownership of guns, which may account for for their relatively low number of gun-related murders.

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