Following a shooting in Connecticut that left the country seeking answers, the National Rifle Association (NRA) cited media violence, and more specifically video game violence, as a part of the problem. Vice President Joe Biden has been talking to various industry groups, including the NRA, movie and television industries, and retailers. On Friday it was the game industry's turn, and the VP said he came to the meeting without preconceptions or accusations.
"We know this is a complex problem," he said. "We know there's no single answer, and quite frankly we don't even know whether some of the things people think impact on this impact on it or not. So I want you to know you have not been 'singled out' for help.
"I come to this meeting with no judgment," he said, adding, "you all know the judgments other people have made." He later said that the government is simply "looking for help" in formulating a plan, and indicated that violence in video games may be a product of our culture.
"There's no measure that I'm aware of to determine whether or not there's a coarsening of our culture in a way that is not healthy," he said. "I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm not sure what kind of impact it would have or wouldn't have on the events we're looking at. But I wanted to tell you what we're about."
The games industry, in response, cited its own data on game violence, the AP reports. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) noted in a statement after the meeting that it had told Biden that independent research has found "no causal connection" between games and real-life violence. It also noted that violent crime among young people has fallen since the early 1990s as video games have increased in popularity.
"We also recognized that gun violence is a serious problem in our country," the statement read. The group said it wanted to help formulate "meaningful solutions."
The meeting showed a wide range of involvement. Besides the ESA, attendees included representatives from Activision Blizzard, EA, Epic Games, GameStop, Take-Two, and Zenimax, along with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), and various universities. Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were also in attendance.
Letters from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) also urged Biden not to treat video games as a scapegoat for the violence, comparing the possibility of regulation today to comic book censorship in the 1950s.
Biden says he is hoping to prepare a comprehensive proposal on gun violence for President Obama by tomorrow, based on his various industry meetings and independent research conducted over the last ten years.