Video game industry representatives will trek to Washington Thursday to persuade lawmakers that virtual violence does not trigger real-world lashing out, amid a reignited gun debate in the wake of the latest horrific school shooting.
The meeting between US President Donald Trump and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) trade group comes less than a month after a teenaged gunman bearing a semi-automatic weapon shot dead 17 people at his former Florida high school.
In the aftermath of the attack Trump pointed to video games as a possible contributing factor to the firearms violence plaguing the nation.
“We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed,” the Republican leader said. “And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
But the ESA says gaming is “plainly” not at fault, wielding data showing no established link between games and violence in the flesh.
“Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States,” the ESA said in response to an AFP inquiry about the upcoming White House meeting.
“Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation.”
Video games are calculated to be a $100 billion a year global business by market intelligence firm NewZoo.
– White House rematch –
Thursday’s meeting comes five years after Joe Biden, then vice president, met with the ESA, heads of major video game companies, and researchers as the nation grappled with Connecticut’s Sandy Hook massacre that saw 20 primary school-age children gunned down.
Following that shooting the National Rifle Association singled out video games as the true danger to society.
“There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows violence against its own people,” said the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, blaming “vicious violent video games” as well as “bloodsoaked films.”