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Trump to meet with gaming execs - report

UPDATE: The ESA confirms it will attend meeting with president Trump

Original story (01/03/18): The games industry is once again under political scrutiny in the US after a mass shooting. According to NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, President Donald Trump will meet with top gaming executives next week to discuss the subject of school safety.

The issue was pushed to the fore last month when a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida went on a shooting spree that left 17 dead.

In the days after the shooting, Trump pointed to the internet as well as violent video games and movies as possible contributing factors. Trump has also suggested gun control measures such as allowing police to confiscate guns from potentially disturbed people, and has said an executive order to ban bump stocks is in the works.

This is not the first time the heads of the industry have been called to account with the Executive Branch of the US. After the Newtown school shooting in December of 2012, then-President Barack Obama asked his vice president Joe Biden to form a task force to examine possible solutions to the trend of mass shootings in the US by focusing on three areas: Gun control, mental health, and violent media.

Biden met with games industry executives as part of that effort, but assured them they were not being singled out. Ultimately, the Obama administration made no move to legislate violence in games.

Update (02/03/18): The Entertainment Software Association has not received an official invitation to meet with President Donald Trump, the trade body confirmed yesterday.

The ESA issued a statement to the press in which it stated that the White House's pledge to meet with key executives from the games industry has not been followed up with a formal invitation.

"ESA and our member companies have not received an invitation to meet with President Trump," it said in the statement, as quoted by Polygon.

It continued: "The same video games played in the US are played worldwide. However, the level of gun violence is exponentially higher in the US than in other countries. Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found there is no link between media content and real-life violence.

"The US video game industry has a long history of partnering with parents and more than 20 years of rating video games through the Entertainment Software Rating Board. We take great steps to provide tools to help players and parents make informed entertainment decisions."

While answering questions from the press yesterday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders mentioned the forthcoming meeting in a response to a query about President Trump's ability to make legislators "bend to his will."

"I don't think it's necessarily about bending to his will," she said. "I think it's about an ongoing discussion about the best pieces of legislation that they can put forward.

"The president will meet with a number of stakeholders next week. He'll also be meeting with members of the video game industry to see what they can do on that front as well. This is going to be an ongoing process, and something that we don't expect to happen overnight... to make sure that we protect schools across the country."

Update (06/03/18): The Entertainment Software Association is one of the first organisations to publicly confirm its attendance at the meeting with president Trump to discuss video game violence.

In a statement to the press, the ESA said the meeting on Thursday, March 8 will "provide the opportunity to have fact-based conversation" about the industry.

"Video games are enjoyed around the world and numerous authorities and reputable scientific studies have found no connection between games and real-life violence," said the ESA.

"Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States. Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation.

Additional reporting by Matthew Handrahan and Haydn Taylor.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.