Last week, US President Donald Trump got a little bit ahead of himself when he announced that he would be meeting with video game industry executives to talk about violent video games and their impact on young minds and acts of violence in America, such as the spate of school shootings that have been occurring. At that time, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) claimed that they had not been talked to, let alone agreed to a meeting. The White House clarified to say that invites for the meeting would be going out soon.
Yesterday, the ESA announced that they have accepted a meeting with Trump on Thursday of this week, saying that it will be 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.”
In addition, the ESA asserted that there is no clear evidence linking violent video games with acts of violence, a topic they are likely to bring up during the meeting with Trump. In a statement released yesterday, they said:
Video games are enjoyed around the world and numerous authorities and reputable scientific studies have found no connection between games and real-life violence. Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States. Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation. The upcoming meeting at the White House, which ESA will attend, will provide the 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.
The meeting follows statements made by Trump in February regarding violent media and the possibility that it could be shaping the minds of America’s youth. This is far from the first time that violent video games and media have been under attack. For as long as the medium has been around, video games have played an easy scapegoat as an explainer for antisocial and violent behaviors, though no study has managed to definitively link the two. We’ll continue reporting on this story as it updates and unfolds following the ESA’s meeting with Trump on Thursday.