But, ultimately, I argue that the concept of “violent video games” has about as much conceptual utility as “blond people” does in informing us about the characteristics of individual women and men. Our insistence on treating the concept of “violent video games” as something meaningful has succeeded mainly in keeping debates on video games emotional rather than rational. Furthermore, I argue that such terms have maintained researchers’ focus on an emotionally loaded Holy Grail in trying to link such media to an array of public health outcomes. Too often, this has functioned as a block to a sophisticated program of research examining the specific and idiosyncratic ways in which specific game design elements interact with specific users’ wants and needs in ways that are probably both more interesting and valuable. We can only hope that a new, nuanced, more balanced approach such as that recently suggested by Isabella Granic and her colleagues in the APA’s flagship journal will hold sway in future research.

March 29, 2014