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ESA defends against Trump's proposed video game crackdown

Meanwhile, publisher share prices fall in wake of US president's address

The conversation around mass shootings in America has once again turned to violence in video games.

In the wake of this weekend's attacks in Texas and Ohio, various politicians have linked the shooters' motivations to video games, culminating in President Trump's proposal to "stop the glorification of violence in our society."

"This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace," he said in a national address. "It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to start immediately."

These comments followed an opening that addressed the role of the internet and social media in "[providing] a dangerous avenue to radicalise disturbed minds" as well as the hatred behind each shooting.

"In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy," the President said, adding: "Hate has no place in America."

Prior to his pledge to crack down on violent video games, Trump said it was important to work closer with social media to "identify mass shooters before they strike." He also vowed to reform mental health laws, and restrict access to guns for those who are identified to pose a threat to society.

The ESA released a statement, emphasising the abundance of violent video games in nations that haven't suffered more than 250 mass shootings since the year began.

"More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide," the ESA said in a statement.

"Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S."

As reported yesterday, the IGDA and IGDAF also released a statement, saying: "Blaming video games distracts from the broader issues at hand. There is an overwhelming amount of research that finds there is no evidence linking video games to violence. Video games do not cause violence, and we support efforts to discontinue this misguided information."

Despite the myriad of factors surrounding these shootings, MarketWatch reports the President's address had an impact on shares for major US video games publishers.

Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two took the biggest hit, with share prices down 6.3%. It was closely followed by Activision's 6.1% decline, perhaps due to the Texas shooter's reference to Call of Duty.

In a manifesto posted online before the attack, the shooter said: "Don't attack heavily guarded areas to fulfil your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets."

Republican Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took this out of context and used it to claim the shooter was "living out his super soldier fantasies on Call of Duty." Others have said the shooter would have been encouraged by spending hours playing "Fortnite or whatever."

Electronic Arts also saw its share price fall by 4.6%, and even casual games firm Zynga was affected, with shares down 3.9%.

If all this seems familiar, it's because the finger of blame has often been pointed at video games in the wake of a US mass shooting. Most notably, Trump blamed violent video games after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida last year.

This led to a meeting between the US President and representatives of the games industry.

The White House even put together a reel of violence in video games, much to the disgust of notable developers, and the industry responded with a video showing many of the broader and more wholesome experiences games can offer.

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James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was