President Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence isn’t winning many points with the video game industry, which responded Wednesday by stating in part that research indicates entertainment doesn’t lead to violent behavior.
As the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the U.S. trade group that represents major video game and computer game companies, said in its statement: “Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.”
But the ESA said it “appreciates” the White House’s leadership on the issue, and agreed that the industry needed to provide consumers information and options when it comes to gaming and entertainment.
The response came just hours after Obama unveiled his plan at the White House, which, among a slew of other steps, calls upon Congress to grant $10 million in funding to the Centers for Disease Control to study “the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”
During that meeting, the ESA took a similar approach, presenting studies that showed “no causal connection” between video game violence and violence in the real world, and noting that violent crime has fallen as video game popularity has risen, according to the Associated Press.
Studies conflict when it comes to the effects of video game violence, as the Associated Press also noted, with some research finding that more time spent playing violent video games can, for example, desensitize players to real world violence or reduce impulse control (the latter in children).
A number of video game and tech-focused publications, as well as avid gamers themselves, have called for national reflection on video game violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting, one of the deadliest in national history.
The ESA has previously vigorously defended itself from further government regulation on free speech grounds.
Full text of the ESA’s statement below:
Washington, DC - January 16, 2013 - “ESA appreciates President Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s leadership and the thoughtful, comprehensive process of the White House Gun Violence Commission. We concur with President Obama’s call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report’s conclusion that “the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play.”
“The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.
“We will embrace a constructive role in the important national dialogue around gun violence in the United States, and continue to collaborate with the Administration and Congress as they examine the facts that inform meaningful solutions.”