Game publishers treading carefully at E3 in wake of Orlando tragedy

"Steps are being taken by individual publishers to be sensitive to the national mood at the moment," says ESA boss Mike Gallagher

Following the unspeakable horrors that occurred at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida over the weekend prior to E3, it's understandable if some people aren't in the mood to see violence and gun-filled shooters taking centerstage at various press conferences held by the major publishers this week. As it turns out, some of the publishers are aware of how they must walk a fine line to entertain but not be disrespectful, ESA head Mike Gallagher told Ars Technica.

"I think we're all in the process of understanding and internalizing what happened last night, and that's an individual experience and a company experience," he said. "I do know that steps are being taken by individual publishers to be sensitive to the national mood at the moment and those types of things."

Details on exactly how the companies have altered their plans are hazy, however. Gallagher pointed out that publishers have "limited some of the tag lines or Twitter handles that might seem to be non-responsive to the national mood."

He added, "I think those are good steps that they've taken, and we commend them for it, but each company is approaching it in their own way."

While Bethesda's conference presenters last night wore rainbow pride pins to honor the Orlando victims, it's unclear how else Bethesda or Electronic Arts before it altered their presentations. Games with plenty of gun action like Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 were obviously still in the spotlight, but Gallagher said that game companies shouldn't feel like they have to change the content of the games themselves.

"It's more in how the products are projected from here... not changing anything about the games... "When it comes to the larger issue of violence in our country and gun violence in video games, I think we're in a much better place today with people's universal understanding that this industry does not cause any of the violence that you see in our society," Gallagher said. "You have a realization that this is entertainment."

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Latest comments (9)

industry does not cause any of the violence that you see in our society,
no it just glorifies it. The fact at this moment many devs and publishers are hesitant and embarrassed to show their work tells you all you need to know.
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Iain McNulty Software / Game Developer, Yanxen2 years ago
Would you mind naming some of these developers? Since all I have seen from E3 is the usual outpouring of games announcements (and non-announcements), with nothing out of the ordinary nor indicative that there is hesitation or embarrassment of one's titles.
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios2 years ago
im conflicted on this Todd, i hate real violence, but love violence in video games if its done tastefully, like Half Life 2, or Doom, or Quake, wheras something like GTA is gratuitous.
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Christophe Danguien games developer 2 years ago
Marty, I think that's what most people think, The games you mention, the violence is against creatures that don't exist, so you can't really identify yourself to the hero and the world you play in.....unlike GTA V where they try to be as close to our world as possible, and I have a big issue with that. It's like they don't know how to entertain people without violence. ( I basically agree with you if it was clear Haha :p )

One reason as well why I'm a big Nintendo fan, they don't have to resort to GTA style to make good games, but guess it's not given to every one to be able to do that

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christophe Danguien on 14th June 2016 3:38pm

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Shehzaan Abdulla Translator/QA 2 years ago
The truth that none of us want to admit is that the reason things are that way is because, when you get down to it, we actually love violence. We are violence. There's a cathartic thrill to it, a pathos, a feeling of being alive -- it scratches an itch that comes with the human condition, such that celebrating or glorifying it doesn'' constitute a problem at all (unless you are a writer seriously scratching for things to write about).

Shocking? Unbelievable? Maybe: But I put it to everyone here that the real issue they have with violence is not with violence itself, but the consequences of it. And the consequences are where videogame violence and real violence diverge.

To be human is to be violent, but one of these forms of violence is acceptable, the other is not. The outpouring of sympathy I saw on stage was an affirmation of that drawing line, not a contradictory stance on the validity of violence as a concept.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Shehzaan Abdulla on 15th June 2016 5:48pm

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Ruben Monteiro Engineer 2 years ago
We are violence.
No, we're not, but most of us don't know it (yet).
It's a primitive condition that can be transcended, and many humans have done it throughout history.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
Recently I've read some people (from withing the industry) saying that game devs nowadays make games that "motivate and reward the player for being a mass murderer" I won't psot the name of the person here, I'll only leave the answer I wrote to him: Do you believe that we, at Ubisoft, hen we create things like "The Division" or "Far Cry", we have the words "mass murdering" in mind? Official answer: we don't
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios2 years ago
murder is a planned, premeditated act.

Shooting hordes of virtual bad guys, is self defence :)
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Richard Sutton Studying Bachelor of Science - Computing and I.T., Open University2 years ago
It's a fine line to tread and is often a matter of taste.
The industry is in a better position than a decade ago, and gun violence in the U.S. is very obviously a political problem, and not a media problem (due to the problem not being the same in other countries where the media is exported, and selling guns in shopping malls as if they were armouries is obviously not very clever).
But I think it is important to debate violence in games, particularly when they are modelled on current, real life areas and events.
At what point does it stop being a form of expression or just a bit of fun and start being an influence on mindsets and real world views?
I'd be interested to see any research anyone can find.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Sutton on 23rd June 2016 6:44pm

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