On the 8th of March, in the wake of the shooting at Broward County, Florida High School, President Donald Trump sat down for a roundtable meeting with a few game industry execs, as a well as a group of determined critics of video games. Trump began the meeting by screening a montage of games, finally commenting, “This is violent, isn’t it?” The White House later released an unlisted video of this montage, for the public to see too.
The montage certainly doesn’t show the full range of games and experiences available, but the content selected wasn’t a dishonest portrayal of violent content in games.
It’s not a nice light.
While this debate isn’t new and the evidence of violence and gaming is one that has not been conclusively proved – we all have the right to question violence in content and in games particularly. They are after all by their nature immersive and interactive. And the U.S. administration reeling in the wake of another school shooting should certainly follow every lead in attempting to determine what to do to reduce violence particularly among youth.
“We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed,” Trump said. “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
And it might be.
We don’t know.
And that’s the point.
So we’ve got to talk about it.
We’ve got to.
Standing behind years of research, the Entertainment Software Association (ESRB) said, “[…]there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices. We appreciate the President’s receptive and comprehensive approach to this discussion.”
As a response to games being portrayed in only a negative light, Games for Change, a non-profit group that focuses on using games and technology as social activism, created their own video montage, shining a light on the beauty found in games. “We wanted to support the game creators and players out there that participate in making this medium such a powerful one. It was a love letter to the community,” said Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change, to Polygon.
There’s a missed opportunity here to have a real discussion about the mass availability of games on the go 24/7 and the changing nature of childhood. And our industry should take self-regulation in the aforementioned areas seriously.
It is not a new idea that violence portrayed in our medium might influence our youth. By facing the problematic outcomes of game addiction head-on, we might be able to reorient public opinion and make content safe for players.
Opening up the space for conversation between the relationship on parents’ role in childrens’ access to video games has now become essential.
After all, parents are supposed to be the gatekeepers to how children interact and engage with games. Their voices should no longer be ignored instead be promoted as a healthy injection into a conversation bogged down by violence.
We believe parents are best positioned to make the best choices for their kids. We as an industry should be providing them with the tools and the insights to make those decisions. Itavio stands by parents, the best positioned to make choices for their children.