President Trump, Other Politicians Blame Video Games for Mass Shootings
In the wake of the horrific mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio that occurred over the weekend, President Donald Trump addressed the world from the White House on Monday morning. He outlined the proposed legislation and steps the administration hopes to take in order to prevent future mass shootings.
Among those steps, which include implementing red flag laws and facilitating cooperation between the federal government and state and local agencies, the President specifically mentioned video games and their perceived cultural impact.
We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace. 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 begin immediately. Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of human life. That's what we have to do.
The President's entire address can be seen here. It begins at around the 13:25 mark, and Trump's comments about video games begin around the 19:30 mark.
Trump did not detail how the administration, lawmakers, or officials might investigate or evaluate video games — if, ultimately, at all. His comments criticizing the medium come alongside others arraigning the internet for being a lobby for violent and malicious ideas.
We must recognize that the Internet [sic] has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts. We must shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet, and stop mass murders before they start.
Following the Parkland, Florida, shooting in 2018, Trump met with representatives from the ESA and ESRB, as well as several vocal critics of the industry, to discuss the nature of violence in the medium.
At that time, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which positions itself as an "advocate" for the video games industry, welcomed the summit as an "opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry’s commitment to parents, and the tools we provide to make informed entertainment choices."
There were no new laws or regulations passed on or regarding the video games industry following that 2018 meeting.
In response to Trump's most recent comments on the industry, the ESA said in a statement today:
More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. 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.
The International Game Developers Association and the International Game Developers Association Foundation, the two largest game developer advocacy groups in the world, also responded to Trump's criticisms of video games.
Renee Gittins, executive director of the IGDA and Nika Nour, executive director of the IGDAF, said in a statement provided to GameSkinny and other media outlets via email:
Our deepest condolences and hearts go out to the victims and families affected by the tragic events in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. Society has endured too many senseless acts of violence and horrific mass shootings.
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.
However, it's not only President Trump pointing the finger at video games. Other Republican leaders have also cited video games as a problem in reference to mass shootings.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cited video games in a recent interview with Fox News.
But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others — I've always felt that is a problem for future generations and others. We've watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals.
When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others. But what I'd like to do is make sure, just get all the facts.
A clip of McCarthy's comments was captured by John Whitehouse and uploaded to Twitter. It can be seen below:
clip here -- it's very much jumping off Tx. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick's comments to F&F earlier pic.twitter.com/J8PqvNtvz0— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 4, 2019
Prior to McCarthy's comments, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said that video games are one of "the common denominators" of increased violence in American society. His comments were also captured and uploaded to Twitter by Whitehouse and can be seen below.
Here's part of Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick's appearance on Fox & Friends, where he uses the El Paso shooting to call for federal government intervention in the video game industry, more prayer in schools, and more saluting the flag, among other things. pic.twitter.com/8xqkEyvvH7— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 4, 2019
To date, there have been countless scientific studies that have found little to no correlation between video games and violence. Many well-researched articles have been written on the subject, and while there is some real conjecture about video games and aggression, researchers remain split on those findings.
Despite that fact, Walmart has recently begun removing violent and aggressive video game materials from its stores.
Most importantly, however, our thoughts are with all of those affected by the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Whether it be monetary donations or volunteering, Fast Company has put together a list of ways you can help those affected.