In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, President Trump pointed a blaming finger at video games and movies, suggesting that new ratings might be required. Since then, he has met with members of the Entertainment Software Association to discuss the issue. The meeting has been described by attendees (including prominent members of the games industry and critics of violent media) as “bizarre,” “unproductive,” and “respectful but contentious.”

Trump set the tone for the meeting by opening with a video montage of violent clips from war and horror-based video games. After playing the clip, Trump turned to the rest of the group and remarked “This is violent isn’t it?” Trump listened to arguments from both sides of the issue.

Parents Television Council program director Melissa Henson argued that a “steady diet of media violence is having a corrosive effect on our culture,” while Media Research Council President Brent Bozell pushed for stronger regulation of the video game market. In particular, Bozell argued that video games “needed to be given the same kind of thought as tobacco and liquor.” Bozell went on to state that anyone who cares about gun violence needs to “stop playing politics” and look at the fact that the shooters at Jonesboro, Columbine, and Newton all involved a “child who was the shooter [watching] violent video games.”

Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association took the opposite stance. Echoing previous statements, the ESA argued that there’s no scientific evidence linking video games to violence, and pointed to the First Amendment.

“We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices.”
— ESA

Representative Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, disagreed. According to Hartzler, even if there’s no proof, the idea that video games cause violence should just be “intuitive” to people.

“Even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitize a young person.”
— Representative Vicky Hartzler

Hartzler also argued in favor of legislation that would make it harder for young people to buy violent video games. It would be difficult to get any such legislature passed, as
the Supreme Court already ruled against that back in 2011. In the end, it seems little was accomplished in this meeting, but according to Trump’s spokespeople, this will be just the first of many steps taken on the issue.

Source: Washington Post

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Ben Lamoreux

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