US gun debate: Video game industry defends itself


Vice President Joe Biden, left, with Attorney General Eric Holder, second from right, speaks during a meeting with representatives from the video game industry in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Friday. AP

WASHINGTON—The video game industry, blamed by some for fostering a culture of violence, defended its practices at a White House meeting exploring how to prevent horrific shootings like the recent Connecticut elementary school massacre.

Vice President Joe Biden, wrapping up three days of wide-ranging talks on gun violence prevention Friday, said the meeting was an effort to understand whether the US was undergoing a “coarsening of our culture.”

President Barack Obama appointed Biden to lead a gun violence task force after last month’s shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that left 20 children and six educators dead.

“I come to this meeting with no judgment. You all know the judgments other people have made,” Biden said at the opening of a two-hour discussion. “We’re looking for help.”

The gaming industry says that violent crime, particularly among the young, has fallen since the early 1990s while video games have increased in popularity.

There are conflicting studies on the impact of video games and other screen violence. Some conclude that video games can desensitize people to real-world violence or temporarily quiet part of the brain that governs impulse control. Other studies have concluded there is no lasting effect.

Cheryl Olson, a participant in Biden’s meeting and a researcher of the effect of violent video games, said there was concern among industry representatives that they would be made into a scapegoat in the wake of the Connecticut shooting.

“The vice president made clear that he did not want to do that,” Olson said.

Biden is expected to suggest ways to address violence in video games, movies and on television when he sends Obama a package of recommendations for curbing gun violence Tuesday. The proposals are expected to include calls for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Gun-safety activists were coalescing around expanded background checks as a key goal for the vice president’s task force. Some advocates said it may be more politically realistic — and even more effective as policy — than reinstating a ban on assault weapons.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks, such as at gun shows and by private sellers over the Internet or through classified ads.

While not backing off support for an assault weapons ban, some advocates said there could be broader political support for increasing background checks, in part because that could actually increase business for retailers and licensed gun dealers who have access to the federal background check system.

Restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines are also seen by some as an easier lift politically than banning assault weapons.

The National Rifle Association adamantly opposes universal background checks, as well as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — all measures that would require congressional approval. The NRA and other pro-gun groups contend that a culture that glamorizes violence bears more responsibility for mass shootings than access to a wide range of weapons and ammunition.

In a 2009 report, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared, “The evidence is now clear and convincing: Media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression.”

The report focused on all types of media violence. But for video games in particular, the pediatricians cited studies that found high exposure to violent ones increased physical aggression at least in the short term, and warned that they allow people to rehearse violent acts. On the other hand, it said friendly video games could promote good behavior.

A wide spectrum of the video game industry was represented at the meeting with the vice president, including the makers of violent war video games like “Call of Duty” and “Medal of Honor” and a representative from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which sets age ratings that on every video game package released in the United States.

The vice president met Thursday with representatives from the entertainment industry, including Motion Picture Association of America and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Biden, hinting at other possible recommendations to the president, said he is interested in technology that would keep a gun from being fired by anyone other than the person who bought it. He said such technology may have curtailed what happened last month in Connecticut, where the shooter used guns purchased by his mother.

The vice president has also discussed making gun trafficking a felony, a step Obama can take through executive action. And he is expected to make recommendations for improving mental health care and school safety.

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    lol… hahahha.. this is funny.. when I was a teenager .. they blamed it to my Heavy Metal Music.. now they blaming it to video games.. hahahahahha…

  • accountant

    To kill those grade school children one after the other requires a person not to relate them to a human being…meaning desensitization…. which they have “trained” for with the violent video games.  Guns aren’t the problem that creates that kind of violence.  The right to bear arms by the US citizenry is a reminder to our government that they don’t have all the power….that the population can resist and defend itself from Assad type leader…we should not allow the government to take away or minimize that right.  When the government fears the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.  Diminishing the people’s constitutional rights is moving toward tyranny and away from liberty.  

  • dennis

    Video war games is IDENTICAL to Military´s Simulators.It´s message and goal! They should react on this thing before! Laws must imply like putting category of every video games like (PG or parental guidance,General Patronage or Retricted or only for Adults)

    • john clark

      1st Amendment Gurantees Freedom of Speech, stange as it may seem Video games and violent movies are covered by these

      2nd Amendment to the constitution talks about the right to bare arms, with talks about guns.

      So in general Biden and Obama could have their hands tied by the supreme court, they have already established laws defending these rights, Obama cannot do a FERDNIAND MARCOS rule by Executive order na bawal na ang baril or video games, it infringes on the consitution, THE US CONSTITUTION was designed by their Founding fathers to prevent Tyranny and one man rule, unfortunately our constition does not have the first and second amendment because it was Hijacked by Politicians and not True Patriots.

      You have freedom of speech but it is not absolute, it the US it is somewhat absolute
      You have the RIGHT to bear arms but here it is a PRIVILAGE!

      It works out like this The right to Bear arms supports the right to free speech. One without the other is nothing but a promise of worthless paper.

      • dennis

        License to have firearms must be differentiated from License to Kill! But you must be glad that the end product of commiting crimes like killing people will end up to DEATH PENALTY which is Philippines doesn´t have laws about it! Sometimes,Laws like in US are hard to ammend,there are things that needs a very long discussion and debate about the ruling.But it is also hard to consider oneself “A Prisoner of his Own Laws!”….One must do something for the good of the people!

      • john clark

        I dont get it what are you trying to say… Just because you have a gun does it mean you have a right to kill?  There is no such thing… But not having a gun can open anyone up to the BAD parts of society that want your property as to the death penalty it is something the past adminstration did which is VERY VERY attrocious. Amending the Constitution of the UNITED STATES is very difficult because of the votes required, and amending them via executive decision is DANGEROUS and opens the door to sucession, you see people have died for the first amendments, if Lincoln really wanted to subjigate the south from ever rising up again, he would have confiscated all the guns in the confederacy and had the 2nd amendment repealed, but that DID NOT HAPPEN because the powers that be knew their HISTORY…

        You see When King George banned the importation of ball and powder to his favorite
        colony which is now the original 13 states, that pretty much was the last straw, started american revolution. He ended up
        in spending his last days in a nut house hence the Madness of King George…

        Things about the United States is not as cut and dry… Also I dont understand how Prisoner of own laws?… Laws are supposed to Liberate People from oppression and give freedom, take away the 1st and 2nd amendments will be BAD for all freedom loving countries… The 1st Ammendment is almost universal for democratic countries. Damaging that sets a dangerous precidence for all Democratic countries.

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