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Video game industry leaders head to Washington
Video game industry leaders head to Washington
January 11, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi




Representatives from the American the video game industry are meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in Washington today to discuss whether there is a connection between simulated and actual gun violence.

It's the latest in a series of meetings Biden is hosting before he proposes gun policy changes to President Obama on Tuesday. He has also met with representatives from the film and television industries, pro-gun rights groups including the NRA, and others.

Gamasutra can independently confirm that representatives from the ESA are in attendance. Others reportedly include representatives from the ESRB, Activision, EA, E-Line Media, Epic Games, GameStop, Take-Two Interactive and Bethesda and id owner ZeniMax Media, as well as individual researchers, according to consumer video game blog Polygon.

Don't miss: Should we be at this meeting at all?

Biden is leading a task force that will present recommendations to the president on new gun control policies in response to last month's elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The NRA offered a brief glimpse into yesterday's meetings when it spoke to Reuters, giving the impression that the task force had already made up its mind to recommend stricter gun control laws in the country.

Don't miss: IGDA's letter to Biden

It is unclear what connection, if any, the task force sees between these events and video games, but hopefully we'll gain more insight at the meeting's conclusion. Gamasutra will stay on top of this story as it develops.


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Comments


Maria Jayne
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"It is unclear what connection, if any, the task force sees between these events and video games"

I think it's fair to say they see a connection, there would be absolutely zero interest in video games if they didn't.

When you have no intention or capability to remove guns from all of your citizens, you gotta blame something else.

Freek Hoekstra
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An investigation can also result in a result that might excempt games from being pointed at,
Also what should they have done, ignored the matter? there is nothing that makes a man more guilty looking then doing that.

Obviously the debate is flawed to begin with, the guns don't kill people, people kill people is flawed because atleast crimes of passion are a lot harder to commit without a gun.
Also the path to violent crime in times of hardship is a lot harder, and noone can deny that if there are no guns they can;t be used to kill people either.

Now I'm not saying all guns are inherently bad (in Alaska one would need a gun against bears or other large wild animals). But buying a gun for protection is only nescesary when one expects the other to have a weapon as well. most likely a gun.

I have lived int he USA and in Europe, and in europe there are no gun incidents ( if one occurs the entire nation is in shock) and that is because no one has guns. period. If you don't have a gun, it can't be used against you, or be stolen and used against anyone else, and you can't use it in a moment of pure hate and anger.

Anyways, I do think games have some influence on human behaviour, we make people laugh, scream at their tv in frustration only to release the joy of succes, or take their frustration in life and making them feel good... we are even trying to make people cry, so on an emotional level we are having some impact at least.

on a behavioural level however our impact is much less profound if at all present.
there are some serious games that are trying to teach people desired effects, but there is not a lot I have learned in call of duty i'd use in real life, nor from donkey kong, or LA Noire or GTA for that matter.

also if games have an effect, then books have too, they are open to imagination spparking interest, as well as tv series and movies and comics
so I do understand some of the feeling of being unfairly judged, then again we are the only interactive medium so a little bit of extra exposure is to be expected.

In the end "I" think games have a non existant to extremely negligable effect on people in such a negative way. Games are designed to be Fun and that is what most of them do, sure some can frustrate but none have been designed to fuel hate and spur on destructive thoughts in the real world.

Also the people that commit these extreme acts of violence would most likely have been triggered another way if not for games, (if games were the trigger at all) these people are usually (if not always) psychologically unstable to begin with and had the means and oppertunity. *too little control*
check santa monica beach the homeless people there get 0 psychological help, I cannot but wonder how bad this is in the rest of the country.

And lets be honest, humanity has blaimed everything, from the devil, to demons, to Rock music, to games, movies, and free sex for all the crimes including murder, and never has it really been the cause in hindsight, and it will be the same for games.

atleast if the argument can be made : guns don;t kill people , people kill people, then:
games don;t kill people, people kill people...

still a terrible argument, but it can atleast be used to show how terrible the other argument is. and then we can maybe move on to a proper realisation of how to combat this issue. hint it is not more guns...

Russ Menapace
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They might find it more difficult to remove video games than they would guns. You can't download a gun from out of the country.

R G
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To Freek:

If you think people in Europe don't have guns and that there aren't any gun incidents, I feel sorry for you.

Laws are only as effective as the means to enforce them. People are shot in Europe all the time.

Freek Hoekstra
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@ robert gill.

I have lived both in europe and the states, and it is true, in Europe people get shot too.
but when it happens there is media coverage of it, why, because it is RARE.

"Laws are only as effective as the means to enforce them"
so giving domestic untrained civilians guns makes it easier to enforce the law???
I think that alaska police might have something to say about that...

again i'm not saying it never happens, just much less frequently.

Joe McGinn
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Talking to video game developers about gun violence is akin to talking to the Hot Wheels toy makers about car safety.

Joe McGinn
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No, as fiction makers I'd say we actually have something meaningful to contribute on those subjects. But at this point, anything other than dealing with the GUNS is [deliberately] avoiding the elephant in the room.

Mike Griffin
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The simulated use of a weapon to injure simulated entities does not place an actual gun against your head forcing you to acquire a physical weapon to injure actual living beings.

An individual's inherent character traits and mental state invokes the pulling of a trigger in violence.
The manifestation of that violence may be colored by fictional media influences, but the impetus to actually act out is entirely a byproduct of the individual's inherent character traits. It comes down to the human in question.

It is up to those surrounding that individual at any stage of their life to recognize said behavior and act to control or direct it, not hide or protect it. Nor should they -- perhaps unknowingly, by facilitating local access to weapons -- support the physical manifestation of violent and depraved actions in that individual.

Brian Buchner
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Exactly Mike. Guns don't kill people or pull their own triggers. *Psychos* kill people. Doing it in a video game does not necessarily constitute a psycho.

Maria Jayne
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"Guns don't kill people"

But when you have a gun, it sure is a lot easier to kill a lot of people.

Since you can't stop crazy psycho people from being crazy psycho people, maybe the first step would be to stop giving them the tools to be so effective at being crazy and psychotic.

Michael Rooney
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@Maria: I think you underestimate how easy it is to kill someone.

Toby Grierson
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It's really easy to kill an individual in certain circumstances. If you're not in those circumstances, it's quite an effort. Doing it in large numbers is the work of serial killers and is nontrivial. However if you have a weapon that can fire a large number of shots in quick succession, you can walk into a crowd and pop pop pop kill ten people. Or twenty.

This of course is not the only use case; it's kind of hard to do a drive-by with archery.

There is a decent number of incidents – big and small – that would not occur without guns.

This may be strawmanish, but you wouldn't legalize nuclear weapons saying "nukes don't kill people, people kill people" because you know that people do kill people and there would be more, worse incidents if nuclear weapons were all over the place.

Modern guns are a little like that; there are things that people can do with them that would be simply extraordinary to impossible with a swords, muzzle-loaders, whatever.

You can envision people still making bombs or bringing down planes without them, yet those things just don't happen so often. Al Qaeda (for example) has tried multiple times in the past ten years to blow up planes, leading to a series of high profile failures.

Since 9/11 we've been able to do a good job of intercepting such people because of the substantial planning one has to do. Crazed gunners, on the other hand, do not permit this defense. You can buy or obtain a gun fit for purpose, then go and perform the crime. Until you start shooting, there is very little even an omniscient law enforcement can do.

What exactly to do about all this – if anything! – is not a simple matter.

But this statement ("guns don't kill people") simply isn't a useful one.

Justin LeGrande
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A heavy assault rifle, or even a relatively cheap AK47, is powerful enough to rip down trees faster than an industrial chainsaw, or turn HUNDREDS of people into bloody piles of flesh and bone within SECONDS. Not minutes, SECONDS. This isn't about easily being able to kill an individual- this is about any able-bodied adult being physically capable of killing hundreds of people on a crowded city area with minimal effort, planning, and resources.

Neither fancy nor makeshift explosive or chemical weapons needed- just grab an assault rifle and go to town.

Bisse Mayrakoira
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Justin:
An AK47 is as "heavy" as assault rifles come. It's not an "industrial chainsaw" and it does not "rip down trees". It is not capable of killing hundreds of people in seconds. And neither it nor any other assault rifle is for sale to civilians almost anywhere in the world. Please stop spouting random stuff about things you obviously know nothing about.

Joe McGinn
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LOL the local gun nut is upset about other people not being as intelligent as him. Oh the ironing.

John Trauger
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The American Left has always been big on control of appearance and media input. It's why they rebranded themselves "Progressives", abandoning "Liberals".

In my darker moments, I wonder whether Biden's task force is an inquisition designed to legitimate gun control laws Democtrats walked in wanting. The implied message to us would then be get behind "guns are the problem" or be tarred along with them.

I don't know how behind this idea even I am. It's just where my mind goes when I'm feeling cynical, pessimistic and a little paranoid.

Michael Rooney
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I think the thing that worries me is that so many people jumped on the anti-assault weapon band wagon, and assault weapons have nothing to do with the problem. Similarly some people being anti-gun not knowing the difference between semi-automatic and automatic guns.

It makes me very worried when people start arguing over legislation that they have demonstrable ignorance of.

Justin LeGrande
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"Progressive" is a term which is supposed to elevate the morals and adherence to fairness above what the current dirtstorm in American politics often entails. Neither the Democratic nor Republican parties are able to do this, because they are beholden to the "powers that be" which supply them their shadow monies and ensure their gerrymandered states.

The importance of labeling someone as "liberal" or "conservative" is losing value by the day. One's adherence to fairness and not condoning the commonplace exploitation of political loopholes is what defines one's political stance these days.

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/12/gun-control.html

It doesn't help that the "top guns" of the American political right wing spend millions of lobbying dollars and shadow money, sometimes using taxpayer money in legal fees, every year to protect assault rifle ownership for everyone, though...

Mark McGee
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While I agree with many of you that video games are not one of the main contributors to violence in society, I'd like to point out 2 things:

1) The media (including us) is not blameless, so we should not be exempt from the discussion.

2) Interactive media has the greatest potential for making positive change in our culture, so while we may not be the primary culprit in causing harm, we can become one of the leaders in something positive.

Thom Q
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I agree with point 2, but point 1 and the statement "video games are not one of the main contributors" are wrong. It's been more then proven that violent video games & movies have no causal link to violent crimes.

TC Weidner
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I agree, is it too much to ask that we stop the glorification of gun violence?

TC Weidner
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ThomQ, actually leading Amerrican universities have had recent brain research that concludes that violent video games and media does make one more aggressive for a period of time. So please stop asserting this is 'no casual link" nonsense. Much more science is needed.

Personally I dont need think we need to wait for research in order to tell us that glorification of gun violence is not necessarily a good or healthy thing for a society.

Ask yourself this, can games teach? can games be helpful and positive? of course they can, so if they can teach and be positive influence in ones life, they certainly can go the other way as well, and be harmful and be a bad influence if we are not careful.

Thom Q
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TC; a period of aggression is not violent behavior, so that's not what I was talking about.
And yeah, I agree with the fact that games can teach, and be an positive or negative influence, of course, i'm not disputing that in any way :)

But again, violent entertainment does not lead to real life violent behavior. I try to explain myself in my comment below.

TC Weidner
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@Thom
You say aggression is not violence, it is a precursor however.

Justin LeGrande
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I agree, I think Perfect Dark is a better representation of what FPS titles should be doing, instead of Call of Duty... or should I say, Cull of Doody...

Kelly Kleider
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@TC Weidner
Thom is correct there are no causal links. The closest "link" is a a corollary to increased aggression. It is important to understand the difference because a lot of reported "causes of this or that" are really just a correlation.

For example, darkness causes my windshield to frost up. I say this because every morning I have to scrape ice off my car windshield when the night before it was not icy.
I have made a correlation with "overnight" and freezing. Without any other information who is to say I am right or wrong?
What is missing is better data which the government should be acquiring, but doesn't because certain interests do not want ANY information that may be used to limit "gun" rights.

Scott Woodbury
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This is what happens when we divert from the real issues due to political rhetoric and misinformation.

Rather than helping people and families with poor or no healthcare deal with illness or counseling the Government will spend millions on a study of video games that has already been accomplished by the millions and millions of people who have grown up playing video games and not killed anyone or committed a violent crime.

Chad Berger
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I've worked 10 years in the video game industry.

Young people ages 10 - 20, who spend 4 to 6 hours a day, playing games that 'simulate killing people with semi-automatic weapons, guns, grenades, knives etc' ARE affected. One word. Desensitization.

I noticed a common ' anger ' by video game employees against the correlation. Anger often by people who don't have kids themselves, so have zero- knowledge of the subject.

If you have kids, everyone notices put on your 6 - 10 year old onto a fighting / combat game, and you'll have problems all week with your child being MORE violent, MORE aggressive with other kids.

Let's get real. The #1 seller 2012 a call of duty ' simulated killing ' game.

If these kids didn't play these games the likeihood of them thinking to 'really use a gun' on people would be WAY less.

Last note Mike - your posts sound like a teenager trying to use www.thesaurus.com to sound intelligent. Stop over compensating for something. Smart people dont' have to 'try' to sound smart.

Frank Cifaldi
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Chad, kindly refrain from asserting unpleasantries toward fellow associates of the Gamasutra commonwealth, particularly as they relate to material that inspires such heated debate.

Jeremiah Bond
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BS. Been playing games and no less violent games, watching murder movies etc.. since I was 4 years old and I still cry when my boy bumps his head. Shoot, I don't own a gun and work on jet aircraft and I still get my feelings hurt when the boss is a dick. Shut up fool.

Tom Baird
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With regards to:

"If these kids didn't play these games the likeihood of them thinking to 'really use a gun' on people would be WAY less. "

Kids think about doing a lot of things, and rather than trying to prevent the thoughts, it may be easier to prevent the means. We don't have rules against thoughts, we have rules against actions.

Jonathan Jennings
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I would love to disagree with Chad but I know as a kid my sisters said whenever I watched an episode of teenage mutant ninja turtles i would be kicking everything within range ESPECIALLY my siblings. it's one of those difficult issues because i know growing up i was never a particularly violent kid but then again i am just one of billions of people so for me to say a game has never influenced violence would be like someone saying games have always made kids violent which i would consider myself proof that's not true.

I do think parenting determines whether or not spurts of a kid re-enacting the media digest becomes a cause for concern or one of those little phases they go through as they develop in life. I feel like parenting never gets enough discussion on issues like this.

Antonio Restivo
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Where did you get your sources? Other evidence points otherwise. I was playing violent video games since I was six years old but I did not turn violent or aggressive. What explains that (probably thanks to G-d for bringing me a healthy religious upbringing). And yet I am terrified of the thought of even holding a gun. If it was not for 'violent video games' I would not have the motivation to start college at 15 working towards my computer science major. If I were a game designer I would not make another violent video game since I do agree that it is artistically insensitive for all the shootings that are occurring. But right now there is little evidence and virtually no explanation as to how violent video games make kids violent. Any law inhibiting freedom of speech or artistic expression would be terrifying and demotivating for the entire economy.

Mike Griffin
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Hey Chad: Thanks man.

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Justin LeGrande
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That's the thing about the whole parenting issue, though. If politicians called out the parents on this issue... there goes their precious votes. Many politicians place their jobs above their honesty. Which of them is going to have the guts to speak the truth?

Justin LeGrande
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@Jeferson Soler

Let's vote for those people, then. I actually live near one of my elected representatives; she does her job well, and is a very reasonable person. Connecting with people about tough topics without using offensive language (or unintentionally offensive language, which might not even sound offensive) is one of the prime tenets of customer service. It's amazing how customer service can be a part of our everyday lives, even if we don't always realize it...

I still have much to learn about customer service, myself.

Patrick Alvarez
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We have leaders? O.o

Thom Q
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The US has the biggest military for the last 60 years, the most private gun owners, and one of the biggest gun cultures since the cowboys road the land.

It also has the most violent crimes and murders in the western world.. (Also biggest gap between rich & poor, most inmates, worst public schooling etc)

The fact that movie & video-game violence is even being raised as a cause of this, again, is pretty absurd. Ostriches don't stick their heads that deep in ground.. It's pretty baffling to watch the whole circus again..

We in the EU play the same games, see the same movies, but have way less violent crimes. Maybe the fact that we can't buy guns and ammo at the mall or in a supermarket has something to do with it?


And still, days into the fact that Mr Biden is meeting with some industry big-wigs is in the news internationally, Still no-one steps up (except IDGA) and shows the big stack of studies done on the subject and saying "Can We Please stop this Nonsensical discussion and get back to fixing the problem??"

No-one. I bet you ESRB, Activision, EA, E-Line Media, Epic Games, GameStop, Take-Two Interactive and Bethesda and id owner ZeniMax Media won't.

David Marcum
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ThomQ could you point me to those studies?

Edit: Thom Q - Here is the official opinion of the American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization of research psychologists:

http://tinyurl.com/bpn3p5n

And here are some of the studies published on their website:

http://tinyurl.com/bzrwemn

http://tinyurl.com/b9xgoda

http://tinyurl.com/a7369e2

http://tinyurl.com/38ea5ss

http://tinyurl.com/a9nbbxj

There are more studies on their website, of course, but those are on video gaming effects hand-eye coordination, not the effects of violent content. So there's that.

And this:

http://tinyurl.com/26obozz

And this on the "steam valve effect":

http://tinyurl.com/cgaxmg7


TC Weidner
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@David- you beat me too it, thanks for the links.

as I mentioned above, if games can teach and be a positive influence in people lives, why is it ludicrous to think they can do the opposite as well.

Its time everyone takes stock at what they bring to our culture.

David Marcum
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No problem, TC!

Thom Q
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I have never mentioned to ignore age ratings, and I 100% agree that children / minors shouldn't be exposed to stuff that isn't suited / rated for them. And I dont think that's what the debate is about, either..

Also, aggression is not violent behavior , especially in the short term, which is the kind of aggression being triggered by some games for certain people..

And I am more then aware of the other negative effects too much gaming can have, as well as how they compare to the negative impact of other solo activities being done in extreme measures.


I was talking about violent media leading to violent behavior, something I've been following for more then 10 years now. Studies from Harvard, the US government, the UK government, the German government, and much more, showed no causal link between the two. Other factors weigh so much more if a person becomes violent, that the effects of violent media are next to negligible.



So, Yes indeed, children should not be exposed to violent content, never said that though. And yes gaming can cause temporary aggression, never said that it didnt, and yes too much gaming can cause a whole bunch of other negative effects of which I never said it didnt. I agree with the links you posted, they are solid. But that was not what I was talking about.

Violent media does however Not lead to violent behavior, and I think that's what's important here. I dont care about defending violent games, but I do think that to keep coming back on the same old chewed dog toy that is The Violence in Media, which again, should only be enjoyed by Adults, is not helping the problem. As a matter of fact, the real causes keep getting ignored..

And @ TC, as I replied to your other comment, I agree on you with that 100%! :)

David Marcum
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Okay good. Could you point me to those studies?

edit: I found the Harvard one. Cool.
http://digitaljournal.com/article/253399

Thom Q
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Sure,

American Sociological Association,

http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2003906/us-teen-violence-study-exo
nerates-video-games


Harvard Health Publications:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_L
etter/2010/October/violent-video-games-and-young-people

or the book Grand Theft Childhood written by co-directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media

I'd spare you the German ones ;)


But I don't want to play the cherry picking game. I'm sure that if you google enough, you'll find studies claiming that violent media Does cause violent behaviour. It's about the body of studies on the subject, the general consensus, with which the IDGA also agrees.

One last thing: Juvenile violent crime rates have been going down in the US since the 90's, while media has been getting more violent.

David Marcum
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Thom -- Did you see this? The Wall Street Journal has posted a story on how the meeting went.

What Biden’s Meeting With the Video Game Industry Really Meant

"Christopher Ferguson, a professor of psychology who has researched and written extensively about the impact of violent video games on their players and attended the meeting “as a researcher” for Texas A&M, told Speakeasy in a phone interview after the meeting that he was “cautiously optimistic” about its outcomes...

...Ferguson said that today’s conference showed him that the game industry doesn’t “necessarily need to change anything they’re doing,” but instead focus on “how they’re perceived by the public.”

“What the industry needs to do is take the Vice President’s advice and really think about: what are some positive things that the industry can do? Public education campaigns about the ERSB rating systems, trying to avoid some blatant missteps like having a gun manufacturer as part of their website, that kind of stuff,” Ferguson said, referring to a controversial campaign in which Electronic Arts embedded links to weapons manufacturers’ products in the promotional website for its military shooter “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.”

http://tinyurl.com/a4kfwek

Thom Q
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Wow.. I'm speechless...
Starting to like the Obama administration more and more!

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

David Marcum
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@Andrew Webber
We generally don't insult each other here. It makes for better dialog, if we don't. Recently there have been some that do. I think it's because gamer magazines have been sourcing the site. Please try to refrain for doing it. It's really much better for everyone if we keep the level of dialog civil.

Thom Q
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Andrew: First of all, I think that what came out of the meeting is on of the most nuanced views anyone could expect. Second, they clearly state that "government" has no desire to dictate anything on the content of games.

I am glad that they do stress the importance of keeping to the age guidelines, and not to keep their advertisements "classy". I like that about your current administration, as do I like the fact that it seems real gun regulation is around the corner.. So yeah, I am liking them more and more.

It's probably more pathetic to not read anything, just assume the opposite, and then spouting that in a unfounded post.

Ramon Carroll
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While I don't agree with Andrew Webber's knee-jerk reaction/insult, I do share his sentiments. While its obvious that some good things did come out of the meeting and that it could be attributed to Obama's organized Biden task force, none of this should cause us to ignore all of the global atrocities that our government takes part in on a regular year-round basis, including the Obama administration. Our government has demonstrated countless times throughout past and recent history that they are not an example that we should be following.

Joe McGinn
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Strangely enough (or not) the US does NOT have more violent crimes than other western countries like the UK.

They just have a dramatically higher rate of those crimes ending with death.

Kelly Kleider
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@Thom, David, Andrew etc...
It is easy to paint any administration/govt as corrupt/evil/awesome etc... what I think is surprising is that something constructive came from that meeting. The entertainment industry has been the whipping boy for pretty much every societal ill, so when something positive happens it is okay to take a moment and say "Hey, that's pretty cool!".
The pessimist in me thinks it won't last, but for now that is pretty positive news.

Michael Joseph
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Violent games cause violent behavior is a no win position.

There are alot of very smart people working in games. But I think too many defense mechanisms kick in on this issue particularly when the argument is worded in this typical way. "Violent games cause violence" is designed to cause a bunch of wheel spinning and goings to nowhere.

I prefer to look at the influence of games in the same way as I do the influence of all mass media. There are not only opportunity costs to consuming frivolous media. There IS a learning of concepts that are of dubious value or worse. Money and guns give you dominance and power. Violence solves problems (no blowblack, no real consequences). Diplomacy has little to no value. Empathy is for sissies. Shortcuts ftw. It's not about how you play the game. Winning is all that matters. Points! High scores! The opposition is one dimensionally evil, they are dumb and they are inferior. Civility is weakness. Females are sex objects. Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like Lara? Being and behaving in an intelligent manner is lame. Getting drunk, high or stoned is cool. Turning your brain off and learning to enjoy stupid tv/games/films is good. Get a Roku. Debate is another word for a yelling match where the last man standing wins. Torture gets results. You're not stupid, everyone else is. Stupid only counts if you're broke and powerless. If you're as unsophisticated and stupid as the bum sitting the in the gutter but you have a fat bank account, you are winning. Vice is exciting. Virtue is for idealistic morons who don't understand how the real world works. Etc, etc, etc.

The games industry will never have anything to fear reguarding the "violent games cause kids to snap" argument. It's one of those arguments that will channel us all down a pointless dead-end series of conversations. Go us.

Much of the media we consume, much of the media we make will not result in the betterment of humanity nor the world we live. That's just a fact. Indeed it has helped us all become masters of hypocrisy. Hey brother and sister, consume my mind shaping garbage but if you forget to check in with the personal responsibility region of your brain (you know, that region we were all born with) and you end up ignorant, saddled with vices, mental health issues, etc... well that's on YOU.

BLAME YOURSELF AND YOUR PARENTS because that is who I will be blaming. I had nothing to do with it. Our marketing department didn't hold a gun to your head making you buy our product even though we denied that it would cause you any harm whatsoever and even though we fought tooth and nail against legislation that would force us to label it as such. (Although if we have to, we'll settle for PG-13, R, M for Mature because they don't adequately describe the depths of the harm and the ratings board will just tally up tits and swear words which are heavily discounted because we've all seen and heard them anyway!!! WHeeeeee!) We just wanted to give you enjoyment and this is how you repaid us? Now excuse us while we brush our teeth without gazing at our own reflections in the mirror.

Alas, if only we had all eaten from a tree of knowledge of good and evil and we magically understood in the deepest sense, what made good beneficial and evil destructive. No joy. We have to teach each other.


Justin LeGrande
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In Buddhism, the tree of knowledge, or the "Bodhi" Tree of Mana/Wisdom, has multiple canopies, with each one holding their respective fruits. It is said that humanity only ate the lowest elevation fruits, not the middle or higher elevation fruits.

This is a stark distinction from the Abrahamic representation, which seems to state that there is only one type of fruit on the entire tree, instead of multiple fruits.

Nick Harris
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Arm the school teachers.

Russ Menapace
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Better yet, arm the children.

Justin LeGrande
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Can't wait for the headline about a more mischievous school student breaking into a locked assault rifle cabinet in a school, then killing a bully classmate as "revenge"...

In fact, why not disband all government police and military forces and just have everyone be their own vigilante militia forces...

You're asking for chaos.

Ramon Carroll
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Pardon me if I'm incorrect, but isn't it true that most of these mass shootings tend to take place in either gun-free zones or cities/states where gun laws are highly restrictive? The argument of the anti-gun control side is that these shooters don't tend to get too far in areas where you have multiple people carrying/concealing.

Getting put down by professionally trained teaching staff doesn't sound like chaos. I believe that its legally deemed justified homicide.

Justin LeGrande
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@Ramon Carroll

Lethal self-defense is legal, yes, but homicide is homicide, even if it is to retaliate against an aggressive killer. I think we need better nonlethal weapons and armors, not more of the same (and more powerful!) lethal weaponry. There's nothing wrong with weapon enthusiasts or guardians arming themselves to protect their homes and families... I'm just sad that current nonlethal methods of self-protection and crime management cannot stand toe-to-toe with assault rifles and AK-47's.

By chaos, I meant more along the lines of spiritual and mental chaos, rather than physical or political chaos.

Ramon Carroll
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Yes, all homicide is homicide. But there is such a thing as legally justified homicide, which is what we see when a police officer or law-abiding citizen legally shoots an assailant.

Sure, if you can come up with a non-lethal measure that can effectively neutralize such threats just as efficiently as a firearm, I'm all for that. The problem is that nobody has been able to do so. Of course a Beretta or Glock against an AK47 doesn't guarantee your chance of survival. But it sure increases it much more than a taser, rubber bullet, can of mace, or baton would.

Yeah, its never cool to have to kill someone, but if one of my daughters was in that school when things went crazy, I wouldn't have had the least bit of remorse in finding out that a group of teachers had to take him out before he got to my girls' class first.

Adding more armed guards inside the schools or training your teaching staff and allowing them to carry/conceal doesn't sound as wacko to me as some are trying to make it sound, especially where my children's lives are concerned.

Justin LeGrande
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@Ramon Carroll

Ultimately, someone such as yourself needs to be the one making those critical split-second decisions. I'm not a parent, so I cannot possibly understand that particular sense of dread. Someone who does understand has to be the one making the life-and-death decisions.

My intention is to combat the negativity which turns formerly innocent people, such as the Sandy Hook killer, into monsters. If it's already too late... I would still want to try, if possible. I'll leave the ultimate decisions to those with the most to lose.

Ramon Carroll
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Sure, I'd be happy to be there making that decision, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not. I just don't see it as completely illogical/unreasonable suggestion to train onsite staff on how to make those decisions in my absence. We sure as heck can't count on law enforcement to make those split second decisions. By the time they usually arrive, the "split-second" has usually already passed and people are dead. I need the people who are currently there to help protect my child. Giving the teacher body armor or a baton doesn't seem to cut it for me.

Ramon Carroll
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Justin,

"My intention is to combat the negativity which turns formerly innocent people, such as the Sandy Hook killer, into monsters. If it's already too late... I would still want to try, if possible. I'll leave the ultimate decisions to those with the most to lose."

Then attack the West's military industrial complex agenda. The entertainment industry didn't create this war culture that we live in. People love guns because guns are part of our culture now. Entertainers are entertainers, and they will only follow trends. I'm not excusing them. I'm just saying that we shouldn't just be stopping at them.

Michael Joseph
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Does a baby have free will? Does it have personal responsibility? Or, at what age does it acquire either of these things?

Does free will and or personal responsibility remain intact and uninfluenced and unbiased throughout the life of the individual? Can either of these things be influenced by parents, peers, teachers, media, culture, society?

If so, does this not denote a multi-shared responsibility? If not, why not? In other words, are we or are we not our brothers' and sisters' keepers?

TC Weidner
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If call of duty and the rest want to be accurate, why dont they have blaring babies crying, men women screaming, scented candles packed in the game that smell like black powder, blood, shit and piss. Smoke that fills your room Have the game make little sense after the first few seconds. Thats WARfare on the front lines. Its insanity. Why not portray what it really is?

Ramon Carroll
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This has always been my problem. Its not violence in and of itself that's the biggest issue. Its our casual and irresponsible representation of it. War is hell, and if we claim to be making a "mature" game about war, then not every single aspect of the game should feel good when we are playing it. In fact, people should be coming away from the game with new insight, not further desensitized support for the our senseless wars.

It should also be noted that its ironic that the government itself, the ultimate culprit for the creation of this "war culture" that we live in (entertainment industries just follow trends guys, so don't just stop at them), is playing the arbiter in this case.

Cordero W
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Unfortunately, I can already picture the discussion from said "experts."

Industry representatives: "Video games don't cause this behavior. Parents and other media do."

Government: "Isn't Video games other media?"

Representatives: "Yeah, but we're exempt from it. Go bother the other media. They're more guilty."

Government: "We already do and are. We're adding you guys now. Congratulations, you're now considered more important than toys."

Representatives: "No! They are more guilty! Leave us alone! We just want to be a niche market who appeals to everyone but doesn't accept any of the social responsibilities!"

Double standards, double standards. Video game companies like Activision goes after the easiest money and the quickest emotion to appeal to: violence. It's direct, it's brutal, and is one of our primal instincts. Unfortunately, they care only for the short term gains, and don't realize the consequences of feeding on an emotion that influences outside violent behavior. Broken controllers, broken televisions, and essentially greater stress, something video games are suppose to "relieve."

Football has a lot of hitting. But rules are in place to show to everyone that you are penalized for your actions. Hockey has a lot more fighting. Once again, rules are there to penalize foul play. These rules are implanted to discourage this action and acts as a social lesson that violent or destructive behaviors are not good. Then in comes video games.

+1 for shooting down that guy. +100 for a kill streak. Then enters visuals, and sound effects meant to elicit good feelings that what you did was a good thing. No rules saying "shooting everyone is wrong. Go all out." It filters into the growing child's head. This isn't about parents anymore. One way or another, kids are still getting access to these games. So instead of addressing this issue professionally, the game industry instead says it's not their fault and continues to not take responsibility for their actions.

Stop defending the game industry you know and love, and start realizing its flaws.

TC Weidner
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Great comment. I fear some in this industry just want to shirk any responsibility because to do anything other, would mean to take a deep long look at themselves and to realize what they are creating and pushing into society with their time and talents. For some that wont be too easy.

Im not for government censorship at all, I'm for human decency.
What we all do matters.

Lewis Wakeford
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"Broken controllers, broken televisions, and essentially greater stress, something video games are suppose to "relieve." "

I disagree that stuff like this is actually caused by on screen violence. It's more like it is caused by failure and (sometimes perceived) unfairness. Monopoly or it's video game analogue Mario Party are notorious for pissing all the participants off.

I'm not saying violence has no effect, but if it does it isn't immediate. The whole point about conditioning kids has some merit though. Maybe age rating should take stuff like that into account?

Daniel Hayes
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Well said. Capitalism and democracy can't exist without media creators adhering to some set of morally and ethically responsible standards.

Justin LeGrande
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@Daniel Hayes

Democracy, perhaps not, but capitalism goes where the money is... if it involves fluffy bunnies and happy spring time, capitalism goes there... if it involves lying about the annihilation of an innocent group of people, with virtually no subsequent personal responsibility being levied towards those responsible for the invading force, whether directly or indirectly, capitalism goes there... it has no ethical or moral boundaries...

As Cordero W said, corporations such as Activision go where the money is, without care to any possible consequences- unless it involves their bottom line. That whole corporate dynamic completely twists and distorts the old adage, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."

Individual people must be the ones to set high standards for their own lives.

Luis Guimaraes
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If there would be anything I could relate to games as a possible part of the problem, it'd be the escapist nature of power fantasies. In how they might psychologically reinforce the current worldwide high-expectations culture.

Society expectations are good at leveraging that problem, so are comparisons with other people's lives, and so are the act of escaping into a virtual world where you can experience contrasting first-hand simulations of the perceived "happy life". Especially when all good life lessons are intentionally and pamper-y cut away from these, from when games used to be first-hand versions of proverbs as "fall seven times, stand up eight".

Character progression, player-centered universe, positive reinforcement, extrinsic rewards, global hero status. If there's a real connection between suicide-types/mass-shooters and video games, it's that they were already trying to escape life in the first place.

The global idea that one can only be happy being richer and better than everybody else and being praised all the time and getting all the prettiest mates and the most expensive car and the biggest house is a possible influential reason on a fair amount of depression and suicide cases, of which mass shootings are a small, attention-seeking share of.

Sure guns leverage the consequences, give a suicide-type a gun and he might take other people with him, sure. Again, blaming "violence" as a cause instead of seeing it as the consequence it is, is already all the way into the wrong direction.

Kelly Kleider
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Can you put that in a soundbite?

While I totally agree with your post, I think you will have to settle for a painfully simplified version like:

"I love ME!!!! --> not always good for me."
or
"Life (Some assembly required...)"

Carlos Abril
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There is one fact that can be considered: in most of the countries in Europe and other parts of the world where the people play the same games, see the same movies, there have never been any kind of 'gun violence'. The main difference is that in those countries you can not buy a gun without the proper license and psychiatric evaluation.

Justin LeGrande
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But were those shootings carried out with readily available, easily obtainable semi-automatic rifles, assault rifles, or sniper rifles? Did they have access to several 30-round ammo clips at the time of the shooting? The amount of deaths/injuries per major public shooting is higher in the USA; and several of the killers committed suicide afterwards to evade justice.

Justin LeGrande
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It seems clear that, regardless of political affiliation, the majority of American politicians have almost zero understanding of topics surrounding computer games... everyone deserves who and what they vote for...

Justin Sawchuk
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Why are violent video games a problem but you dont hear a peep about violent movies or TV shows. They have a better lobby, someone who is not going to bend on wounded knee, fold like a cheap suit. The socialists want to construct a nanny state micromanaging every aspect of your life, telling you what you can watch, what you can eat, how you have to think etc.

Justin LeGrande
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That sounds like a description of fascism, not socialism... they couldn't be more different from each other. Pure socialism, like pure capitalism, is a model of economic management and trade; it's not meant to be a governmental model. Neither is wrong on their own- elements of authoritarianism introduced from elsewhere are what taints them.

Ramon Carroll
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Justin, I understand what you are saying, but I think the proper term that you are looking for would be totalitarianism.

Ramon Carroll
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Double post.

Kelly Kleider
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@Justin. This is the government trying to respond to public outcry. The outcry ranges from we need more to we need none. How would you satisfy a range of views that broad?

James Clark
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One of the problems I have seen around the 'media violence' issue (be it film, games, a genre of music or even books) is the value of supposed experts. A report from the Department of Behavioral, Applied Sciences & Criminal Justice (Texas A&M International University) by Ferguson and Kilburn found not only huge issue with bias in the vast majority of reports and experiments regarding media-violence, but also found a great many were using unapproved research methods and measurements.

Take for example one of the industries long time 'oppositions' Mr. Craig A. Anderson. A doctor in psychology who is well enough regarded in his field to have provided an expert testimony for the U.S. Senate on the matter of Video-game violence. During their report Ferguson and Kilburn found Anderson and Bushman using, simply put, maths incorrectly.

To quote just one example: "...they [Anderson and Bushman] fail to make clear that they are attempting to convert odds ratios and relative risks into Pearson r effects, which is considered invalid."

Overall the level of quality and professionalism in many of the media-violence reports and experiments is strongly lacking, heck in their review many of the studies weren't even controlling 'third' mediating values such as gender and personality.

Its a highly interesting read for people who can stomach statics and one I recommend to anyone interest in media & video-game violence (If a little worrying about peoples integrity...)

Link to Ferguson and Kilburns Review:
http://www.tamiu.edu/~cferguson/MVJPED.pdf

Andrew Lance
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I’ve never been one afraid to voice unpopular opinions, so here I go.

If you don’t think your environment/culture have any influence on you, you are ignoring everything science knows about the brain. We are all, to at least some extent, a product of our environment (or if we aren’t, effort is involved to NOT be a product of our environment.) Games are a part of environment/culture.

In having a debate, the most difficult thing to do is admit your opponent has a point. The key thing to consider though is that yielding a point does not mean agreeing with their conclusions. I agree completely that violent videogames are an influence. But so are violent books, movies, and songs. This leads us to the key questions we should be asking.

1. Are videogames any different from other sources of influence?
2. Are these influences significant enough that they need to be curtailed?

My belief, with no science other than my gut, is that the difference between a normal person and a killer is usually not listening to a particularly violent song, reading a horribly brutal book, or watching a gruesome movie. I think only a small fraction of the populace is so unhinged that they would do something like Sandy Hook under any circumstances. Could videogames be a tipping point for such an individual? Possibly. But they are already so unbalanced that it is really just a footnote to a larger issue.

Denying any linkage though just makes the game industry appear to be in denial. A measured response would be something like this:

“We consider videogames to be no different from other forms of media like books and movies in how they influence individuals. We believe the question of how violence is portrayed is not a question specific to videogames, but one which all forms of media must answer. ”

Videogames are a lot like advertisements. Advertisements don't force you to buy anything, but they can expose people to ideas and can influence them. To put it another way- if you don't want to encourage a violent culture, don't advertise for it. Or at least don't act surprised when you get the (partial) credit you are due.

Justin LeGrande
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When I was younger, killing people (or beings similar to people) in games, using sparsely detailed 2D on those old-tyme games didn't ellicit responses from me like "COOL!" or "AWESOME! or "WOAH!" Venturing into the realm of 3D for the first time did, though! So the increased realism of violence definitely is a factor. No one gets squeemish when Mario jumps onto a Goomba and turns them into bloody mush, because the game never portrays that. But Mario is still a raging Goomba murderer, he is!

I first played Perfeck Dark when I was 13, and Goldeneye and Turok when I was 10... I didn't think much different of them back then compared to titles with heavy narrative themes I had played earlier, such as Breath of Fire 2, Illusion of Gaia, and Final Fantasy Tactics. The narrative of those RPG's always seemed more "mature" than those of other genres, so I paid more attention to them.

I agree with you, games like Call of Duty and Skyrim will never ellicit the same provocative introspection within players as titles with more in-depth narrative... How can one be drawn to a particular type of narrative... if that narrative is never presented to the person as a possibility? That's getting into the realms of creativity censorship according to how the market leaders would like, and how the public accepts and condones...

Dust eyes
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One "industry" after another pointing fingers at each other. Arms are in many games. We've been stomping goombas out since the 80s. Parents leave game consoles out because they are "safe" while the gun gets locked in a safe.
Un supervised mature 18+ activities are the problem. Lack of supervision and parents not doing "studies" of their own kids.
That is the problem. Classrooms reads books and teachers tak about the content. Parents shoul do the same with "videogames"

Matt Cratty
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I hope that there is a STRONG word of rebuke headed Joe Biden's way.

I pity that man's brain living for that many years without oxygen.

Eric Robertson
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Yes Biden, we know what you are after.

Don't hold the people in the killer's life accountable (or just the killer himself), that doesn't get you votes, so you hold the evil corporations accountable. That is strictly catering to your bitter and out of work voter base, and continuing to be part of the problem, not the solution.

Troy Walker
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... and how exactly am I suppose to protect myself from large rioting mobs or an corrupt government force in the future if you take my assault weapon away from me?

just sayin'... don't think it could happen?

http://www.laweekly.com/microsites/la-riots/

Joe McGinn
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Really this is all just a lot of NRA hand waving. Look, a bee! Look, a video game! Look, a comic book!

(Thank goodness no one is looking at the guns.)

Altug Isigan
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I hope they won't forget to take a copy of America's Army to the meeting so that Mr.Biden can sign it for them. :P


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