It took less than a day for a politician to blame the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on violent video games, and little more than a week for Donald “I’m the biggest fan of the Second Amendment” Trump to publicly make the connection. And now, even after yesterday’s bizarre televised meeting where he seemingly split from standard gun-protecting procedure, the president is apparently carrying on with this idea that violent media is just as much to blame for America’s epidemic of mass shootings as its lax gun-contol laws. In fact, he’s stepping up his efforts. At a press briefing today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders mentioned that Trump would be meeting with “members of the video game industry to see what they can do” about this issue that only affects one out of the many countries in which they sell their products.
To be fair to Trump, this isn’t the first time in recent years that the White House has booked such a meeting. After Sandy Hook, the Obama administration had Joe Biden sit down with video game execs to discuss the state of violent video game research. Afterward, President Obama made a call for further research into the effects of violent video games on the minds of children, but his request reportedly went unfulfilled. As we mentioned last week, there’s already been plenty of research on the effects of violent video games on the psyches of people who play them, and, as the American Psychological Association has said, “little evidence exists that playing violent video games produces violent criminal behavior.”
But of course, that hasn’t stopped politicians and commentators from dredging up the violent video game scapegoat as they attempt to distract from the actual, obvious, indefensible problem here. Coincidentally, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the original Congressional hearings on video game violence, the ones that led to the creation of video game ratings in the first place.
Update: Following Sanders’ announcement today, the Entertainment Software Association, the industry trade group representing American game publishers, released a statement saying neither it nor any of the companies it represents have actually received any such invitation from the White House: “ESA and our member companies have not received an invitation to meet with President Trump.”
The organization also refuted any links between video game violence and real-world gun violence, saying “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.”