Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

Biden to game industry: "You have not been singled out"

Biden to game industry: "You have not been singled out"

Sat 12 Jan 2013 12:44am GMT / 7:44pm EST / 4:44pm PST
PeopleLegal

Vice president Biden downplays the effects of games on violence and says there's "no silver bullet" to stop gun violence

In a meeting with video game industry representatives today, United States Vice President Joseph Biden said there was no "silver bullet" in dealing with gun-related violence. The recent meetings have stemmed from the recent shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Most of the meeting was behind closed doors, but the White House did record a brief statement from the Vice President.

"We know that there's no silver bullet, no seat belt you can put on to assure that we will not be in this circumstance again, but I ask the cabinet to come together - the attorney general, Homeland Security, Department of Education, Health and Human Services, etc. - because we know this is a complex problem," said Biden.

"We know there is no single answer and quite frankly we don't even know whether some of the things people think impact on [gun violence] actually impact on it or not," said Biden.

Biden then laid a hand on the shoulder of Electronic Arts chief executive officer John Riccitiello and let the press know that the focus wasn't squarely on the game industry.

"I want you to know you have not been 'singled out' for help, but we've asked a whole lot of people," said Biden.

The Vice President has met with law enforcement agencies, the National Rifle Association, child advocacy groups, domestic violence groups, legal organizations, civil rights organizations, and the medical community.

The fact that representatives from our industry agreed to meet with the Vice President has already caused a schism within the gaming community. Gamasutra editor-in-chief Kris Graft said that agreeing to meet with the VP was an admission of guilt by the industry. IGN editor-in-chief Casey Lynch then fired back with an open letter explaining that the industry would do well to be a part of the growing conversation. Game critic and designer Ian Bogost said that the game industry has "already lost" its high ground in the debate by agreeing to participate.

18 Comments

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
The film industry met with Biden as well. Meeting with him is hardly an admission of guilt.

Heck the ACTUALLY guilty NRA met with him and they won't admit anything lol.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

322 1,290 4.0
Popular Comment
I don't think agreeing to a dialogue is an admission of guilt, bloody hell. Our industry has been blamed for many things, and stropping about going 'Nuh-uh it's not OUR fault no way!' doesn't really help the image of irresponsibility many would like to paint us with.

Meeting with Biden and actually talking about potential problems, discussing what we can do if anything and doing more research to find out what kind of effect playing violent games could potentially have - or proving that they have no effect at all - proves that we are a responsible and mature industry who are willing to face up to criticism and prove it wrong.

Refusing to engage doesn't help anything.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 12th January 2013 3:44pm

Posted:A year ago

#2

Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
Refusing to engage doesn't help anything.
As a game developer.
As a father of two grown children.
As a United States Citizen.

I will be happy to engage, right after I see the D.C. talking heads make a speech about how people who have children are parents, and as parents they have an OBLIGATION to parent their children, and that parenting by proxy (TV/Movies/Games) is not a responsible course of action. I will be happy to engage in any process that is equal, balanced, and where both sides give and get. When I see Biden, or Obama come out and say: government is not here to sanitize what your children play, what your children watch. When I see Joe stand up and tell parents: your right to tell your child "no" to Call of Duty, or Grand Theft Auto is an absolute right...when I see Biden and Obama stand up and say: you have a duty and obligation to inform yourself as to what your children are doing, what roads they take, what choices they make....only then I will moderate my position, and not before.

When I see that being done, when I see poor and lazy parenting addressed as one of the root causes, in the interest of looking fairly and equitably at the totality of the situation....

Then, and only then...will I engage. Till that day, I will not engage with people who are looking to fire up the political hay maker. The record companies also thought it was a good idea to meet with Congress. We have a record labeling system that people still ignore. We have an ESRB system parents ignore. If you do not wish to parent your children, then do not have them. It's that simple.

In closing, this is just one singular issue related to this...there are other feeder issues here as well:lack of a mental health system that actually helps people, better laws for background checks, etc etc etc. But, nobody wants to talk about the fact that parents have a duty, to their children but also to every single member of society, to actively parent their children. It's a duty that is abdicated far too often. It needs to end.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

322 1,290 4.0
No see, setting stupid petty requirements before you're even willing to discuss something is not how you do this. It just makes you look like you have some kind of superiority complex. People are already talking about parental duty, but parents aren't a huge commercial industry, and helping parents is actually something we can contribute to rather than sitting back and blaming them for not being clued up enough to the potential dangers of violent games, which you are admitting yourself exist.

Swallow your pride and go sit down at that table. If you really do care about this issue rather than just getting in a defensive huff when someone accuses you of not being responsible enough - hey, just like you're accusing every other parent in the US - if you really do actually care, you will quit being a whiny eejit and actually try and contribute however you feel you can.

This whole 'I'm not playing til you guys are nicer to me' thing is just so juvenile it makes me wonder if people are getting their kids to type for them.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Daniel Amofa Account manager

7 4 0.6
I hope I don't offend anyone here or Americans but have they looked at their TV and movies they churn out through out the year?

Guns are glorified almost like turning on a tap and getting running water. It is in bedded from day one, and yet, games make the headline.

People really need to open their eye with this one and stop the scapegoat routine.

Personally, It could just come down to who they make more money from and connected with.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
No see, setting stupid petty requirements before you're even willing to discuss something is not how you do this.
No, Jessica... see. Understanding history is essential when you realize this country has a bona fide history of not only legislating "safety in lieu of personal responsibility" despite the best efforts of those affected, but of also doing so in the name of "the children", or "look we're doing something!"

There's no superiority complex here. There's memories of Frank Zappa being marginalized and ridiculed because Tipper Gore's daughter got upset at watching a music video. There's golden age animation from Warner Brothers, MGM, etc... now so heavily edited (read: censored) the original cartoons in some cases are neigh unrecognizable.

All of it: "For the children"

I have actually spoken to parents, (hard not to, when you're involved with your child's upbringing) and have them opinionate about how their job needs to be made *easier*, and the government should do *more* to protect their children from violence on television. Well, every television, every video game system, every radio, every PC I have ever seen on the open market has a switch for turning it on or off.

Helping parents? What more are we supposed to do? We have a rating system that is virtually ignored, (despite it's slipshod methods) we have parents who can't be bothered to pay attention to their own children, but seem to have no problem mugging for a camera when one of these incidents happen, if only to whine about how video games are to blame. They aren't looking for help...they aren't looking for facts...they're looking for a peel and stick label to assuage their guilt over not paying attention to their duty as parents in the way that being a parent demands. History tells us that, because...here we are again. Point me to where we learned the lessons of Dylan and Klebold? (Whose parents swore they had no idea what their kids were doing or planning...)

This has nothing to do with "you need to be nicer". It has to do with understanding, and having lived through this song and dance number several times already. It's about history, Jessica. From 2LiveCrew, The Mothers of Invention, The Three Stooges, Looney Tunes....You name it. Industries have been "asked politely" to participate, only to have the government or some lazy ad hoc lobby step in and talk about how evil X is because at the end of the day...parents and governments do not want to actually do the hard work: honestly and fairly attack the problem; and what did any history teacher worth his or her salt tell us: if you do not learn from the history, you're doomed to repeat it.

Well, I advocate not repeating it. I advocate a strong game development representation where we will be more than willing to to talk, when we see people come to the bargaining table with clean hands, free of trying to stick pin blame tags on people or creative works.

You want to start a movement? Start by telling parents to parent their children. This country can ill afford another generation raised via proxy by people too plugged in to pay attention. You want to start a movement? Take a walk down lower Wacker drive here in Chicago and look at some of the people who are well known by our criminal justice system, because the Mental Health system is near non existent. You want to start a movement? Let's talk about how one of those folks on lower Wacker drive can walk about 2 miles north or south, panhandling all the way and buy a .22 as easy as they buy a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

So, no. I will not be a party to another round of flogging of the artistic and creative world by people who really have no history of trying to solve the problem in any meaningful way. Nor should anyone in the business of representing the industry. Our industry got in a huff when Roger Ebert wildly proclaimed "Games are not art", we gave him several examples of why they are. You mean to tell me now, we should sit down and talk about how art should be muted, toned down because someone does not like it, does not agree with it, and furthermore....is in no way forced to pay for the ticket to see the art, much less consume it? So, we are either a creative industry where the artist has a broad (but admittedly, not an absolute, obscenity, incite to panic, etc) first amendment right here in the United States,or we aren't.

This has nothing to do with pride. It has to do with understanding the history of such talks for what they are: the first step in regulating what should fall under the auspices of personal responsibility. They historically have been the first step in sanctioning one group of people because another, more vocal minority wants to remain lazy, rather than honestly and completely address the problem. The United States, collectively...has a history of not addressing our social issues in a meaningful way. We wait until they blow up in our face. This is a fact, born out of our history for the last 45 years.

So, no. This is about understanding where these things lead. It's about understanding that, until we see people willing to take the whole issue on...why put ourselves in the position of having lent credence to their pet theories of the day, for the political point scoring match?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Christopher McCraken on 14th January 2013 2:17pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

322 1,290 4.0
Oh, you can just ignore them til they wash their hands(Have we washed ours? Do we even know whether we have any dirt needing washing?), or stick your head in the sand and whine about censorship and Frank Zappa until they leave you alone. I guess. That sure sounds like the adult thing to do.
The United States, collectively...has a history of not addressing our social issues in a meaningful way. We wait until they blow up in our face.
And how are we helping by refusing to discuss anything when we're asked to come to the table?

This is an academic argumement anyway I suppose, since the ESA went and had a chat with Biden anyway and the IGDA have sensibly offered assistance and support for more research.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
And how are we helping by refusing to discuss anything when we're asked to come to the table?
We were not invited. It was announced that violent video games are responsible. And this is not the first time this happens.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
Oh, you can just ignore them til they wash their hands(Have we washed ours? Do we even know whether we have any dirt needing washing?), or stick your head in the sand and whine about censorship and Frank Zappa until they leave you alone. I guess. That sure sounds like the adult thing to do.
No, the adult thing to do, as an industry is to demand full accountability. To stand up and say: we're willing to talk to you, once we see a public record of you addressing this issue completely 100% fairly. That has not been done. The fear felt from the trade groups is so thick you can cut it with a chainsaw. The adult thing to do is stand up for your collective, accept that there needs, no must be a dialog. But that you have to be willing to face it all, no matter how uncomfortable it is. You know, there are people with such integrity. Bill Cosby, for instance. The Pound Cake speech was magnificent. In it, he told some hard truth, and while he was addressing the state of his community in light of the anniversary of Brown V Board of Education, his words apply to any community not parenting their children.

But, the bottom line is, the game industry, from what I have seen...is acting like a kid dragging his feet to the principals office. At no time more than now, more than ever...the business of making games needs to get some spinal fortitude. I don't see the NRA quaking in it's boots, and their products are designed to end life.

Jessica, you can ignore history all you want, in order to make your point. I get your point. Someone has to be the first to step up. But there's a difference between stepping up to have a discussion, and walking into a minefield devoid of anything remotely indicative as to actually solving the problem. The history is there, you can ignore it all you want... but it's there. You can either learn from it, or be run over by it.

Does the United States need to discuss the violence which has become woven into our culture? Yes. But it needs to have a discussion that matters. There has been nothing so far that has indicated to me, and quite a few others that the frame of the conversation is going to be a discussion that matters. This is about applying blame. Not even spreading it, applying it. Well, who's to blame? Every parent in this country who buys Grand Theft Auto 3 for their kids without even bothering to look up what the game is about. Who's to blame? The folks who seemed to think dismantling our mental health system and turning out people who are dangerous to society because their liberty is more important than their own, and our safety. Who's to blame? People who think everyone and their unborn children should be armed to the teeth with guns that have 20 round clips.

When a mother is told "get him charged with a crime", rather than actually trying to get a disturbed child real and tangible help....we have more serious problems than what is on the television, or in a game. We have a deeply rooted societal issue that predates the wide availability of video games and television.

So you're free to ignore *my* points while making your own. But that does not invalidate them. They're there, and they need addressing. But mark my words...until we have that broad discussion, with Congress who won't even fully address medical insurance for everyone, (much less a sane and working mental health system)...with parents who need to step up and do more, and acknowledge they need to do so...and with an incredibly well funded gun lobby that wants to turn our schools into tower defense games....with armed guards....rather than address the fact that anyone sane or not with a pulse can buy a gun...

Not one thing will change. Why be a party to a discussion that has a good chance of causing real harm to creative works, why discuss anything with a group of people with a history of eroding the rights of artists, rather than address the issue as a whole? Why give them the chance to sanitize what we do as a creative industry through legislation? Because that is where this will go. It has before, it will again. All "For the children".

Posted:A year ago

#10

Laurens Bruins Jaywalker, Jaywalkers Interactive

135 158 1.2
+3 Christopher.

Jessica, let's assume violent games turn crazy kids into machine gun wielding lunatics. What is your solution? I can think of many other activities not suitable for young children. What do you propose we do with them? Ban everything?

I'd say age restrictions would be a good solution. He, wait a minute...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Laurens Bruins on 14th January 2013 3:49pm

Posted:A year ago

#11

Justin Trautmann Studying Digital Media & Multimedia Technology, Hillsborough Community College

24 35 1.5
No silver bullet for the issue? I suppose if the issue turns into a werewolf than we're doomed as a nation.

This all seems to be appeasement that, at best, will become circular argument. Without trying to sound like a pessimist - when the "industry heads" can't seem to get their head on straight on marketing and promotion (involving guns/violence) there is not much value they can contribute to the political machine.

If it is not the tool (the gun) and the people who make it (or lobby it), then it is the examples (entertainment industry) of those who do the act. If it is not the examples, then.. it's society? Culture? Parenting? Hrm - too many real deep issues. Best we stop at the examples given to our kids and young adults.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
@Justin
If it is not the tool (the gun) and the people who make it (or lobby it), then it is the examples (entertainment industry) of those who do the act
The first example any child has: the parent. If they parent will not exercise their right to tell a child "no", and to use their absolute right to determine what will be present in their house, the one the parent pays for and provides for said child...then what hope does any industry (be it the gun, movie, music or game industry) have to be a part of the solution?

Answer: none. This will be a zero sum game until we put it all on the table. But that is not what is happening. The argument is being framed exactly how the NRA and others want it framed: games make kids shoot other kids. The so called "discussion" is nothing of the sort. It's looking for soundbites that can be used to pull levers.

This will happen again. And again. And again. Until we acknowledge we have some seriously deep rooted societal issues that have nothing to do with games, guns, or television. Those issues have to do with our own failures as a society to remain civilized on some very basic levels.

People want studies. Okay. Fair enough. But when we have elected officials who call science the work of Satan, when we have congressmen on Scientific Committees who actively spout nonsense...what hope do we have that any scientific analysis will be evaluated fairly and used decisively?

Posted:A year ago

#13

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
This will happen again. And again. And again. Until we acknowledge we have some seriously deep rooted societal issues that have nothing to do with games, guns, or television. Those issues have to do with our own failures as a society to remain civilized on some very basic levels.
Societies as a whole rarely acknowledge their issues - people would rather do (and did) terrible things to preserve the order of things or hide their faults from the rest of them...

Posted:A year ago

#14

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5

Posted:A year ago

#15

Adam Gulledge Studying Business & Management, University of Houston - Victoria

2 1 0.5
I agree. It is the parent's responsibility to monitor what their children do, and there is already a rating system in play. Right in the corner of game boxes, no matter where you get them.

However, for the political side of this, I don't believe that line of "you haven't been singled out." Games were singled out as part of the cause since the media latched onto it after the shooting. I recall one news site saying games were now reported to be giving kids cancer last week.

That said, from everything I've read about the shooting, three things were in play that made it happen.

1. - The mother was negligent of her child, who was shown to have issues with depression, and spent more time with the kids she was teaching. Even those close to her said this. As a result, her son, the shooter, played games as an escape, some of those being shooters.
2. - The shooter was jealous of the kids his mother was paying more attention to, and he was on psychiatric meds since age 10. That's 12 years.
3. - The shooter's mother was a prepper. Someone who stocked guns in case the U.S. economy collapsed and she needed to defend herself or the family. So, she was a legal gun owner, but her son wasn't.

All three of those things, in close proximity, made this happen. The fact that this kid was playing shooters was a side effect of his mother ignoring him in the first place, not because he was teaching himself to kill. As such, games are not the fault here. It was, and is, the parent.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Gulledge on 14th January 2013 6:29pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

Spencer Franklin Concept Artist

95 125 1.3
@Christopher McCraken

+100
as an artist and a father of 3, I couldn't agree with you more. Until the discussion is framed around the core issue, the real issue, of parental responsibility, this is just a whole lot of political noise simply for the purpose of winning kudos from those that aren't willing to accept that they are FULLY RESPONSIBLE for what their children consume, via movies, books, games, music or any other media.

I look back at this recent school shooting, and the previous once over the last decade...and I find in none of them a reason to even come to the conclusion that what these shooters did was influenced by any particular media. What they did, they did because they were one and all in someway emotionally and/or mentally disturbed. No re-enactments of some CoD chapter, or a take on a scene in GTA(X)... no, what you see are youths seeking revenge for slights against them (real or imagined), for being ridiculed or outcast by their peers for whatever reasons. These are youths whose ability to deal rationally with their problems was in some way hampered, and whose parents were "disconnected" from what was affecting their child... youths who had access to weapons, and, in their minds, a reason to use them.

All this political showboating and using the the lame "video games/music/movies cause this..." argument is simply to stoke fires and more easily place blame anywhere and everywhere except at the feet of those who wield the most power to do what needs to be done... PARENTS...actively PARENTING their children. Being PROACTIVELY involved in their children's lives. Parents being aware of what things their children are involved in, and, when needed stepping in to help explain and put into perspective the things their children are exposed to, intentionally via chosen entertainment (games,movies,music) or whatever current events the news media is plastering across it's many platforms. And though I firmly believe that parents should exercise more often than not the ability to use that mystical ON/OFF switch... I also firmly believe that having the conversations with our children about the WHY we are taking certain actions is every bit as needed.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now