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Exactly how violent were January's most-popular videogames? Not very, according to the data.

1 year ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Tech

We tend to avoid going too deep into politics here at Thinknum Media. But last week, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin blamed the Parkland, FL shooting that killed 17 people on videogames and movies. We figured we may have some data on this to either back him up, refute his claim, or at the very least arm you, dear reader, with some data knowledge.

"We need to have an honest conversation as to what should and should not be allowed in the United States as it relates to the things being put in the hands of our young people," Bevin said last Thursday.

And he’s not alone. Brian Mast, a representative from Palm City, FL said the very next day that the violence found in videogames and movies are the “biggest pusher[s]” of guns as mass-murder weapons.

“When you look at Call of Duty,” Mast said in an NPR radio interview, “when you look at movies like John Wick, the societal impacts of people being desensitized to killing in ways different than how somebody on the battlefield was desensitized is troubling.”

So exactly how violent are today's most-popular videogames? According to the top-selling videogames that we track at, not very. In fact, not a single one of them includes an assault rifle as a weapon or prop. You might find monsters and pirate guns, but you won't find an AR-15.

Here are the top-10 selling videogames at Amazon for the month of January 2018 along with the nature of violence in each:

1. Super Mario Odyssey Using a sombrero to become a giant fist to punch an ancient stone guardian
2. Monster Hunter: World Collecting swords and hammers to capture giant lizards
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Use wands and broadswords to fight off one-eyed monsters
4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Ride go-karts around a track while trying to knock your foes away using cartoon "bob-oms"
5. Nintendo LABO (pre-order) Create cardboard controllers for things like fishing and piano playing
6. God of War (pre-order) Use the "Blade of Chaos" to take down 
7. Sea of Thieves (pre-order) Be a pirate. Do pirate things. Sometimes fight other pirates.
8. Dragon Ball Z FighterZ Be a Japanese anime character with fireballs that come out of your hands.
9. The Evil Within 2 (Xbox) Avoid supernatural monsters. Yes, you might find a gun in this game.
10. The Evil Within 2 (PlayStation) See above.

Videogames are an easy blame - back in the 90s, attorney Jack Thompson infamously took on games like Grand Theft Auto, saying “in every school shooting, we find that kids who pull the trigger are video gamers.”

Wherever you stand on the issues, the numbers show that, at least last month, guns weren’t a thing in videogames.

Here's a screenshot of the data in case you were curious. Click on the list to see the full dataset (for subscribers, of course):

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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