The video game industry has been under quite a bit of fire lately. A few months ago, the industry attracted the attention of politicians with the controversial release of Star Wars: Battlefront II and its "pay-to-win" loot box system. Though publisher EA took steps to address player complaints by temporarily removing loot boxes, many players and government officials still feel similar randomized reward systems merit further scrutiny and potential regulation.
Now, following the tragic Florida school shooting, the age-old argument that video games and other forms of violent media lead to violent behavior in the real world has resurfaced. In late February, President Donald Trump reportedly said the following in a meeting with lawmakers during a discussion about school safety:
"We have to do something about what [kids are] seeing and how they're seeing it. And also video games. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is shaping more and more people's thoughts."
A day later, Rhode Island State House member Robert Nardolillo proposed a 10 percent tax on M-rated games with the proceeds being used to fund "mental health provisions" in schools.
In March, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump would be meeting with "members of the video game industry" to discuss the potential link between violent media and school violence.
Now, Sanders confirms the meeting in question will take place on March 8.
The ESA has released a statement re-affirming their long-held belief that video games do not lead to violent behavior while expressing their interest in having a "fact-based conversation" about video game ratings and their commitment to parents. The full statement is as follows:
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.