Not to say that “games cause violence”, just looking for some nuance. Not to throw my full weight behind GD, but rare is the phenomenon that relies on a single cause. And thus, even though it undoubtedly is a major contributing factor, it seems doubtful wether widespread availability of guns is solely to be blamed for the high gun violence in the US.
What certainly holds true - as far as I’m concerned - is that games are always embedded in a surrounding culture. So let us look at that that culture.
One things that stands out the me is the lack of female shooters. Just googling for a few seconds, pew research tells me that 62% of US gun owners are men. So gun possession seems to be gendered, and same for gun culture: whereas 43% of gun owning men consume gun-related media, this holds true for only 33% of gun owning women. Furthermore, while 43% of these women use a gun for sports, 58% of the men do so. Now, these obviously aren’t enormous differences, but they are there nether the less and actually quite distinct.
This is the article: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/29/how-male-and-female-gun-owners-in-the-u-s-compare/
What of gun culture carries over the pond? I mainly see movies and, especially, video games. And it doesn’t appear to be particularly far fetched that games can and do cater to, portray, and thereby strengthen an image of make heroism linked strongly with physical violence, aggression and, often, guns.
This seems to hold true when looking at the player base: Around 5% of Shooter players, around 25% of RPG players (both notoriously prominent in their depiction of violence) are female - so not a lot.
So am I saying video games cause mass shootings? No, definitely not. Such a statement is ridiculously oversimplified to the point of misleading. And while wide availability of guns is certainly a big factor in the facilitation of violence, there seems, to me, to be a strong interplay with gun culture (and that of violence) in its promotion. And if this were the case, then those producing culture might feel the incentive to critically examine what they themselves portray as heroic and why. Naturally, no single game can cause or change such a culture beyond its own relationship to it. It doesn’t have to, either.
A great example of a more mature, nuanced treatment of violence is in pillars of eternity: When you infiltrate Raedrics Keep, you can slaughter your way through the halls of the fortress. Yet Raedric will tell you that these people merely worked on a payroll. What hit harder for me personally was that some of the guards, when spoken to after the mission, tell you that your actions will not be forgotten by them. The moment stayed with me. And these small nods towards what violence can actually mean are often rare in video games.