With a Rebel Yell: Video Gamers’ Responses to Mass Shooting Moral Panics
32 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2019 Last revised: 10 Dec 2019
Date Written: December 10, 2019
When a moral panic happens, a group of people believe that their behavior is made responsible for a thread to society – without any evidentiary basis. How does the target group respond? In the video game context, gamers may fear that their pastime will be blamed for mass shooting attacks leading to social stigma and restrictions on their behaviors. Group members so threatened are hypothesized to react to protect their group identity. This leads to increased engagement in the activity under threat or playing more video games. In contrast, disasters that do not threaten the group would not affect the amount of video game play. We test these hypotheses by relating the amount of game play to incidents of mass shootings and non-shooting disasters for a large sample of individuals (N≈170,000). Incidents of mass shootings that threaten the gamer community lead to increases in game playing while incidents of other disasters unrelated to gaming divert time away from gaming. His evidence is consistent with mass shootings leading to moral panic among gamers.
Keywords: Moral Panic, Video Games, Time Use, Defensive Reactions
JEL Classification: Z13, O35, L82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation