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IGDA writes Biden, calls for more game violence research

Developer group offers advice to VP, acknowledges responsibilities that come with right of free speech

The International Game Developers Association wants to assist Vice President Joe Biden as he prepares US policy recommendations to cut down on gun violence. IGDA Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee Chairman Daniel Greenberg today issued a letter to Biden, addressing concerns and calling for more scientific research on the effects of playing games.

"Unlike some industry groups, the IGDA does not seek to impede more scientific study about our members' products," Greenberg said. "We welcome more evidence-based research into the effects of our work to add to the large body of existing scientific literature that clearly shows no causal link between video game violence and real violence."

The IGDA is asking that any new research also cover the potentially beneficial effects of violent games, such as the possibility that they release aggression that could otherwise lead to violence, or that imaginary violence could "help children master experiences of being frightened."

Greenberg also detailed for Biden the free speech rights of game makers, as supported by a 2011 Supreme Court decision striking down a California law prohibiting violent game sales to minors. He went on to acknowledge that those rights come with some responsibilities.

"For example, some violent games add non-violent options and solutions based on problem-solving and player creativity," Greenberg said. "Other games offer greater rewards for mercy and compassion. Many popular video games offer tough lessons in making better choices through interactive storylines that let players experience the consequences of their actions. And some game developers have responded to real world violence by creating games designed for conflict resolution, anti-bullying and aggression reduction. The government can help this process by supporting this unique, cutting edge research into harnessing the power of video games to help solve our nation's problem with violence."

Greenberg concluded the letter by expressing condolences to those affected by last month's Newtown, Connecticut shooting, which prompted Biden's push for policy reforms. He also offered support for Biden's efforts, adding, "But we would not want to see those efforts diverted toward non-causal sources and away from meaningful change to real dangers."

The IGDA isn't the only gaming group to offer Biden its assistance. Earlier this week, the Entertainment Merchants Association released a similar open letter to the vice president.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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