Obama calls for violent game research [Updated]

President asks Congress to fund studies on effects of games on kids, saying, "We don't benefit from ignorance"

President Barack Obama today unveiled a series of measures intended to curb gun violence in the wake of last month's Newtown school shooting. While most of his proposals centered on gun control issues, he also called for more research into the effects of violent video games on children.

"Congress should fund research on the effects violent video games have on young minds," Obama said. "We don't benefit from ignorance. We don't benefit from not knowing the science."

Beyond the gaming research, the President called for universal background checks, as well as bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He also asked Congress to confirm his appointment for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. That position has been an issue for some time, as the Bureau has only had a series of acting directors since 2006.

Obama acknowledged that his measures will face considerable opposition from legislators and political lobbies alike, who he said wanted nothing to change. The only way his proposals can be passed, he said, is if the public and the members of those groups make their own vocal calls for change.

Update: The Entertainment Software Association has released a statement on President Obama's gun violence proposal.

“ESA appreciates President Obama's and Vice President Biden's leadership and the thoughtful, comprehensive process of the White House Gun Violence Commission. We concur with President Obama's call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report's conclusion that the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play," said the organization in its statement.

“The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world."

“We will embrace a constructive role in the important national dialogue around gun violence in the United States, and continue to collaborate with the Administration and Congress as they examine the facts that inform meaningful solutions.”

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Latest comments (20)

Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys6 years ago
Congress probably should fund more research, that can't hurt, but doesn't a wealth on this already exist?
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
There is masses of really good research. This is like doing some research to come up with round things to run vehicles on.
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Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions6 years ago
This either reflects the governments complete ignorance about such a massive industry.. which is strange considering the amount of ongoing research into the subjects outlined here.
Its a publicity stunt to pander to the people who actually believe COD was the reason for the recent shooting in America. While i sympathise with the plight of people reaching out for answers regarding a very tragic event.. I think they really need to look more into the social problems in their schools such as bullying and ostracism especially with growing pressures caused by social media.
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Sounds like BS publicity rhetoric. Calling a spade a spade
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Joshua Young Studying Game Developement and Entrepreneurship, UOIT6 years ago
Penn and Teller once had a show that did research on popular myths including "the effects of video game violence." The results they came up with were pretty straight forward; there's little to no link. Regardless to whether the research was thorough enough (they didn't have a multimillion dollar budget), the video is a good watch.
Personally I believe lots of money will be wasted on this research, however if it finally shuts people about video game violence then I guess it's worth it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joshua Young on 16th January 2013 10:33pm

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I have to be a little concerned - I feel like the guy in a musical chairs game, where everyone has their own chair and we (the video amusement trade) are standing as the music stopped!

We are the only industry that has been hit (machines removed from facilities) over the highschool shooting! The complaint being:
“People have the freedom to have whatever video games in their own homes that they want”. “We were struck by walking into a rest stop within an hour’s drive of Newtown and seeing and hearing a life-sized, mounted machine gun on a video game.”
[Taken from complaint by Mother over rest room games]

I just wonder if we are going to get a lookin to supply our side in this Congress funded research - or will this be a private knifing from the ESA speaking on our behalf?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 16th January 2013 11:10pm

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Konstantin Hohl6 years ago
@ Kevin
Regarding the public's and the government's standpoint I can only recommend Dan Hsu's statement:

The government isn't really interested in a witch hunt, they just want to show off that they are acting on that matter...
When it comes to the public: You won't be able to change all those people with no interest in digital media. The digital natives will be the parent generation one day and therefore the whole mentalllity and understanding towards games will shift. Just the way it was with rock music and comics some decades ago...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Konstantin Hohl on 17th January 2013 12:18am

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@Konstantin, thanks for that - but to be honest it is little comfort as we know that State dose what State wants, and if they decide that video amusement is evil and a easy kill then we will be lined up and shot.

I think my main point is that we need to have a voice at the table, but there are more that would want us as a whipping boy as they have already written off our business! and it would be convenient!
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We may only have puppets to voice our side at the table.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts6 years ago
I personally think this new research could well end up being a Good Thing™. If it does end up being done by the CDC and they say there's no link between games and violence, it's yet more ammunition (excuse the pun) to throw in the face of those who say otherwise.

For the industry to be able to stand up and say "here's yet another study that shows there's no link between games and violence" can only help us, and the fact it's been funded by the US government and being carried out by a body such as the CDC only makes it better. Even if they do find a link between games and violence, isn't it better for us to know so we can do something about it?

The point is this - we don't have to give two hoots about films, books, plays, guns or anything else. All we need be concerned about is our own industry, and the more data we have the better.
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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart6 years ago
Video games stop kids going out and commiting crimes. Just ask New York.
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Georges Paz Programmer, technical director and CEO, Psychoz Interactive6 years ago
The gouv isn't stupid, they are just trying to push out a new agenda to tax gamers even more.
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Adrian Nantchev Animator - General 3D 6 years ago
There is no evidence.

People watch porn, there is no rise in rapes.

Sure there are specific events (Manhunt), but no pattern.

I am 19 and have played games since 1999, no violence.
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Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent6 years ago
"The blade itself incites to violence." – Homer.

I myself don't expect anything I say to be remembered nearly three millennia from now. Though I consider myself smart in the grand scheme, I am neither as wise nor as intelligent as one whose wisdom has withstood the rigors of all human history.

If you are one who believes firearms effect not the deathtoll involving them, I presume you do think yourself his better.

I am less, you are more.

And so the difference between you and I is one so vast, I am not fit to comment. I defer instead to you, Lord of all. May your words bring enlightenment to humankind for many centuries to come, and when cometh the year AD 4813, we shall chant:

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people." – an idiot.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 17th January 2013 5:56pm

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He who has the smallest lobbiest loses.

I wonder if they will look into other factors as well such as , pharma, gun industry, poverty, broken homes, failed health system, broken education system, depression due to debt, 50 years of militarization, etc etc.. Im not against research as long as the goal isnt just to find a scapegoat.
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Marty Greenwell Software Developer 6 years ago
There's definitely a link. To this day, I can't look at a turtle without stamping on its head.

Thanks Nintendo.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
Hmm... England has lots of violent video games and very few mass murders in schools. America has all the same games and way more mass murders. So this totally looks like a political move to coddle the sentiments of people overly obsessed with owning guns. Because England has fuck all guns and very few mass murders in schools, and America has a fuckton of guns and a shitload of mass murders.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
@Graham: Heh. Well, being a native Noo Yawkuh (and a gamer since 1972) and lamenting the death of the arcades that used to be all over the place, I'd say you'd last thirteen seconds on the streets here once you left the big bubble Disney installed over Manhattan... =^P

Or not - unless you were walking around with an iPhone or other device someone can swipe out of your hands while you're using it (this seems to be the biggest crime happening around some parts)...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 18th January 2013 8:53pm

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Peter Bess Software developer 6 years ago
This is going to be bias.
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Matt Ernst Studying Culinary Arts, Hennepin Tech6 years ago
There have been multiple cases that already did this research, and they all show no link. Why do you need $10 million to say the same thing again?
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