President Donald Trump blamed the violence in video games in part for influencing young minds in the aftermath of the shooting in Parkland, Florida last month that claimed 17 lives. To discuss the same things, the President – on Thursday – held a meeting with the game executives that went on for about an hour, but failed to arrive at any conclusive outcome, according to Kotaku.
The meeting with the stakeholders was just one of the many meetings about gun violence and school safety that the Trump administration has held after the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Those present on behalf of the gaming industry were head of the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), a DC-based publisher’s lobbying group; the head of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board); the chief executive of Take Two; and Robert Altman, chairman of ZeniMax Media.
From the anti-gaming side, there were authors and a member of the Parent Television Council, who supported the California law to criminalize the sale of violent games to children. However, the decision was ruled as unconstitutional in 2011.
In a statement detailing the meeting, the White House said: “During today’s meeting, the group spoke with the President about the effect that violent video games have on our youth, especially young males.” Further, the statement from the White House read that the group discussed studies showing a correlation between video games violence and real violence.
“The conversation centered on whether violent video games, including games that graphically simulate killing, desensitize our community to violence,” the White House said.
Donald Trump started the meeting by watching a video clip and asking, “This is violent, isn’t it.” The video was released by the White House on its official YouTube channel to illustrate the violence in video games. The clip includes multiple instances where the characters heads were exploding. One clip was from the Sniper Elite, showing a slow-motion kill, where a Sniper’s bullet shoots to open a skull in X-ray vision.
Criticizing the violent content in the video games, Donald Trump said that the video games, internet and movies are so violent. Talking about his younger son at a recent meeting, Trump said, “I look at some of the things he’s watching, and I say, how is that possible?”
ESA’s Michael Gallagher and ESRB’s Patricia Vance have spent years in debating and defending the First Amendment rights of the video games and the effectiveness of the game industry rating system. Take-Two, the owner of Rockstar games, is also aware of the debate after they found themselves in the middle of such issues following the release of Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt titles as well as Bully, notes RollingStone.
Altman has never come out in public to defend the video games, but was one of the attendees at a meeting in 2013 with then Vice President Joe Biden to discuss essentially the same topic. ZeniMax also has Trump’s brother Robert Trump as one of the board directors.
People like retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman have been long standing against the gory violence shown in video games and the current ESRB rating system. In his book Assassination Generation, Grossman stated that video games “depict antisocial, misanthropic, casually savage behavior can warp the mind – with potentially deadly results.”
Grossman, an expert in “Killology,” is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. After his retirement, Grossman formed a Killology research group to educate law enforcement and soldiers on how to improve the results of lethal weapons. However, Grossman’s argument has been opposed for being simplistic and neglecting scientific research that denies any relation between the games and the shootings. The argument suggests that the same titles are available everywhere, but only the U.S. is witnessing maximum school shootings, notes RollingStone.
Further, Parents Television Council (PTC) suggested in a recent paper that the entertainment industry is to be blamed directly for the school shootings. According to the paper, Hollywood and particularly the television industry, is offering America’s children a nightly blueprint, or dress rehearsal, for the violence that is committed in the nation’s school halls with troubling frequency.
It further read that Hollywood stands at the lowest point of hypocrisy as there are so many actors, writers and producers who denounce gun violence, but never speak up against their own industry for promoting a culture of violence.
About the meeting with President Donald Trump, PTC program director Melissa Henson said she is keen to talk about the challenges of keeping violent games away from kids even for the most diligent parents. Henson stated that the meeting was more of a listening session and that no conclusion was arrived at, according to Time.