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It’s been a while since video games have been blamed for some kind of bad event they have nothing to do with – Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, has blamed social media and video games for contributing to the ongoing riots in his country. In a press conference on July 1, 2023, Macron named Snapchat and TikTok as platforms on which rioters organize themselves and “a mimicking of violence, which for the youngest leads to a kind of disconnect from reality.”

You can see where he’s going with this, right? Yeah. “They are acting out the video games that have poisoned their minds,” Macron concluded (translation via In Context).

Blaming video games for social problems has been a tried and tested method for politicians ever since video games became a thing – be it school shootings, worse education results, or riots all over the country, they make a great scapegoat in the eyes of a generation knowing nothing about them.

The funniest part is that Macron is well known as a supporter of video games, particularly those with a competitive element. In September 2022 the president himself announced the news that France would hold two huge esport events in 2023 and 2024, one being a Major in tactical FPS Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – one of the favorite scapegoats people like to bring up, since one team always plays as a terrorist force against the counter terrorists.

Being a consummate politician, changing his opinion to whatever is needed at the moment is a skill Macron has perfected – it’s probably best to not take everything he says seriously when it comes to this topic.

The current riots in France were sparked after a teenager was shot by the police, but have since then escalated into a general fit of violence and plundering without a higher purpose. Though the president won’t be up for reelection anymore, since he’s on his last allowed term, he’s under a lot of pressure to restore order and maintain the population’s faith in the rule of law, as the threat of a far right takeover during the next election is very real and will only be boosted by chaos.

For the preservation of democracy, video games can take some temporary blame.