While most people within the gaming industry have moved on from the debate over violent video games, the recent rise in school shootings in the US has brought the topic back into the forefront of some people’s minds. President Donald Trump brought them up as a possible cause of recent school shootings, despite the fact that most scientific research agrees that violent video games have no major effect on players, and have had no impact on actual aggression or violence among the populace.
Still, the topic is a part of the debate, and it seems like it will only become more so as Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders just announced plans for President Trump to meet with members of the video game industry soon.
Who those members might be was not made clear, as the comment was made in passing during the semi-daily press briefing held by the press secretary. Depending on who attends the meeting we could see very different results. Game developers and the ESA are very protective of the first amendment rights to free speech that was determined to apply to video games a few years ago. The meetings are said to be planned for next week, so we should find out more soon.
Trump has made headlines as of late with his claims that violent media have an effect on consumers. He even called for a rating system to be created, seeming to ignore the ESRB rating system for video games and MPAA ratings for movies. The ESRB was formed in the 90’s as a reaction to criticism of violence and other adult content in video games and has been praised as a great example of self-regulation by the video game industry.
The topic of whether violent video games impact actual violence has been a contentious one in the past. Recent years saw the topic die down quite a bit, especially after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association in 2011. This ruling made clear that video games were an expression of free speech and thus could not be limited, even if they had some sort of effect on violent behavior. We’ll see if President Trump feels it is prudent to continue his seeming crusade against video games after the meeting next week.