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Trump's meeting with the game industry over gun violence may be a debate

Trump's meeting with the game industry over gun violence may be a debate

March 7, 2018 | By Alex Wawro

March 7, 2018 | By Alex Wawro
More: Serious

A number of game industry executives have been invited to a meeting at the White House tomorrow to discuss gun violence and violent video games, and it looks like they'll also be joined by some vocal critics of the game industry.

According to a report today from The Washington Post, representatives from game industry stakeholders like the Entertainment Software Association will be sitting down with Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell and Missouri Representative Vicky Hartzler (R), both of whom have publically called on the U.S. government to crack down on violence in media. 

While it remains to be seen how or if this proposed meeting will play out tomorrow, the fact that the White House has invited at least two established advocates of increased scrutiny or control over the content of video games and other cultural mediums suggests that tomorrow's meeting will be less of a conversation and more of a debate.

For example, shortly after the abominable mass shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Hartzler published an opinion piece arguing that stricter gun control laws were not a long-term solution to the problem of school shootings.

"We must have a meaningful conversation about mental health issues and other possible cultural and societal contributors to violent behavior, such as violence in video games," she wrote.

Around the same time, Bozell published an article arguing that lawmakers seeking to do something about school shootings should have a dialogue about violent video games, not gun control.

"The problem is violence, a violence of monstrous and horrific proportions that has infected America's popular culture," he wrote. "Does it make sense for policy makers to go around suggesting that gun makers be held liable for school shootings, but fail to suggest the same for say, Microsoft Game Studios, which makes 'Gears of War' series, spotlighted by PBS as especially bloody?"

The Washington Post says a spokesperson for Representative Hartzler confirmed her plan to attend, and a White House spokesperson told the paper that there may well be more meetings to come.

 "As we continue to work towards creating school safety programs that protect all children, the president will be meeting with video game industry leaders and Members of Congress to discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children," the spokesperson said. "This meeting will be the first of many with industry leaders to discuss this important issue."

As we noted last week, game industry veteran (and former White House senior advisor for digital media) Mark DeLoura wrote a brief Gamasutra blog post about the state of research into any link between violent video games and real-world violence. It covers work done over the past 15+ years, and is well worth reading if you're curious about this issue.

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