Trump’s White House video games meeting has a very concerning list of invitees

The list of invitees to US president Donald Trump’s White House video games meeting today has been released. And it’s a sorry sight, including names from notorious right-wing censorship advocacy groups, and not a single qualified expert on the topic.

Following the tragic shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three weeks ago, Trump made some off-the-cuff remarks about the effects of violent video games on young people’s behaviour, causing many to wonder if they’d somehow been sent back in time twenty years. Despite multiple reputable published studies over decades showing no link between gaming and real-world violence, and despite no school shooting ever being credibly linked to violent video games (despite many untrue claims by the world’s press), the once-thought tired concept has been given new life.

Trump later announced that he was meeting with members of the video games industry to discuss the matter, but splendid work by Kotaku quickly revealed that no company involved with the ESA (representing nearly all major US publishers) had been asked. Following what must have been some frantic scrambling, the White House has pulled together a list of attendees to a formal meeting to discuss the matter, and it makes for grim reading. And includes President Trump’s brother’s boss.

The full list features three Republican members of Congress, Senator Marco Rubio, Representative Vicky Hartzler, and Representative Martha Roby.

Then come the industry representatives: Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman, ESRB president Patricia Vance, and ESA CEO Mike Gallagher. Not a shabby list by any means, although it’s interesting to note the added complication that Robert Altman is senior to one Robert S. Trump, on the board of directors of ZeniMax.

The real issue comes when you look at the rest of the attendees, who you end up having to assume represent “the other side”, considering their outlandish histories. Let’s go through them one by one.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (Ret.), author of “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” and “Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing”.

Grossman (no, not the one from LucasArts) is best known for the first book mentioned above, required reading for FBI training, and from his unqualified position looks at the innate reluctance in people to be willing to kill, especially focusing on war. His second book, however, is a more spurious venture called “Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, written in 1999, that makes claims that FPS gaming (and light gun gaming) use similar methods to train people to kill as are used in the army, and harden children to the act of murder. These are claims that all credible science has so far proven to be untrue, and claims he repeats in his most recent book, the second mentioned above.

The reason we know these claims are so spurious is that violent video games are played all around the world, but the problem of high school shootings is restricted pretty much to just the one country. And indeed that, even though the US’s high school shootings are so troublingly frequent, they still represent the actions of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of all the young people playing violent games, suggesting that either violent games don’t cause a person to commit violent acts, or if they are involved, there must be many other significant factors involved too that aren’t being acknowledged.

Grossman’s core goal is to reduce violence in society, and that’s laudable, but by scapegoating gaming with no basis of evidence, he is more likely to distract from identifying the real causes and ultimately scupper his own good intentions.

Mr Brent Bozell, Media Research Center

Here’s where things start to become more concerning. The Media Research Center is the innocuous-sounding name for a very not-neutral organisation, whose mission is to “prove – through sound scientific research – that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values.” As you might imagine from such a conspiratorial and nonsensical goal, this politically conservative group, funded by various other politically conservative groups, is motivated by their desire to see what they perceive to be Christian, American values replace those they consider liberal. Brent Bozell is the founder of the organisation, which seeks to influence programming they dislike through advertising boycotts and pressure on networks. And indeed he is a man who went on Fox News to describe President Obama as a “skinny ghetto crackhead”.

He also might be too busy to write all the articles on which his names appear. And of course leapt to the defence of Greg Gianfort, the Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat, when he grabbed a reporter by the throat and threw him to the ground. One more? Sure. In 2016 he spoke at the National Religious Broadcasters’ “Proclaim 16” Convention, on a panel called with no irony “Christian Genocide” – sharing a convention with anti-LGBT groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, labelled “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with famous anti-gay speakers like Pastor Rafael Cruz and Steve Deace, and anti Muslim groups like the Center for Secure Policy. Good times.

Melissa Henson, Mother from Parents Television Council

Finally is Melissa Henson, just some mother, from a group called the Parents Television Council. Oh, and also the director of its Advertiser Accountability Campaign, and its Director of Programs, and former Research Director, producing some “groundbreaking PTC studies” such as “The Blue Tube” and “TV Bloodbath”. And a regular guest on Fox News, and various right-wing talk radio stations. And a spokeswoman for the organisation. But listed here as “Mother”.

But who are the Parents Television Council? Why, they’re a censorship advocacy group founded by, er, one Brent Bozell. Yup, beyond all credibility, the Whitehouse has invited people from two organisations founded by the same man in its attempts to seek an understanding of the role violent video games play in real-world violence. Wholly non-credible, unscientific groups with a clear agenda to promote their conservatism. Henson previously worked for the Media Research Center too, because of course.

And that’s it.

What’s so problematic here is what this selection represents. That there will be ultra-right-wing Fox News talking heads is not so much the issue, as much as it’s depressing and demoralising. It’s that in an attempt to learn of any possible connections between gaming and real-world violence, not a single credible expert on the topic will play a role. Sure, the ESRB, ESA, ZeniMax and Take-Two will advocate for gaming, but of course they will! It’s in their financial interests to do so, and will be of no more credibility to the discussion than the goofball loony righties will be against them. I wouldn’t trust Take-Two to tell me whether games are dangerous for me to play – their entire business model relies on people’s willingness to buy violent games!

But it gets even worse when the one “side” is fully staffed by representatives of those invested in the sale of violent games, because it gives the impression that the other “side” are the more impartial experts. Brent Bozell may well make all his money by objecting to the media, but theoretically has no financial stake in keeping violent games off the shelves. (If anything, his business model would be threatened by a lack of things to object to.)

By not asking anyone from any of the dozens upon dozens of impartial research groups who have put in rigorous study into this subject, in order to give expert testimony to the meeting, nothing useful or productive can come of it. What we have here is three Republicans meeting with three more Republicans to affirm their disagreement with the people who profit from the violent video games. There are so few ways this ends well.

Top image courtesy of Alex Proimos.

111 Comments

  1. Colthor says:

    “There are so few ways this ends well.”

    It was never going to. It’s a publicity event to create scapegoats for the NRA. The only question is why anyone from the industry is legitimising it by turning up.

    • pepperfez says:

      There’s an even chance that one of them will be appointed to a White House position during the meeting…which on reflection doesn’t answer your question.

    • Sandepande says:

      If they don’t, they’ll be admitting something. Or maybe they foolishly think it’s an actual discussion.

    • ts061282 says:

      American Psychological Association study conducted during Obama administration found violent games do promote aggression. Despite partisan bias, there are legitimate concerns here.

      link to apa.org

      • FlailBot says:

        I (finally) made an account just to say thanks for posting this. I am reading it right now.

        Some editor should stick this in the main article.

      • John Walker says:

        I wrote about this in great detail in 2015: link to rockpapershotgun.com

        The APA is broadly condemned by scientific institutions for its outrageously partisan approach to these subjects, and indeed its appallingly bad science. It’s tragic, but the APA seems all but worthless at this point.

        For a decent study that found some indication of effects from playing violent games (clearly stopping far short of causing a person to become violent), have a look here: link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • n0s says:

      The only way this can end well is if the USA disappears. Yellowstone, we need you now!

  2. pepperfez says:

    I mean, the most problematic thing is that this whole disgraceful dog-and-pony trash-and-goblin show is intended to preempt discussion of sensible gun policy changes.
    It’s not like there’ll be any follow-through from the halfwits in the administration; controlling video games neither personally benefits Trump nor hurts non-white people, so it’s too much trouble to bother with.

  3. Mezmorki says:

    The fact of the matter is that the Trump administration, and much of the GOP itself, is deliberately, willingly, and fully-invested in ignoring expert advise, and undermining the institutions that support it. Logic, facts, scientific-rigor, and critical thinking are an anathema to the conservative regime that is currently strangling the life out of the county. Of course they don’t want expert opinion to weigh in on this – or any other serious issue – lest reason might prevail and their illusion broken.

  4. Martijn says:

    The full list features three Republican members of Congress, Senator Marco Rubio, Representative Vicky Hartzler, and Representative Martha Roby.

    I can sort of see why Rubio would be there, him being a senator from Florida.

    But Hartzler represents Missouri’s 4th District and is on the Armed Services and Agriculture Committee. Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd and is on the House Judiciary Committee. Their biographies mention nothing related to media regulation or mental health. Why are they in these meeting?

    • pepperfez says:

      Hating independent media — of whatever sort — is a core Republican value. Participating in a public blame session to punish media companies and defend guns is good for all of them.

    • emotionengine says:

      Also of note: Marco Rubio has received over 3 million dollars of “funding” from the N.R.A., coming in fifth on this list of congressional recipients: link to nytimes.com

      He’s literally being paid to scapegoat video games while hindering gun control (among other things).

  5. no_seigen says:

    Don’t worry everyone- this is all bluster and no substance. Seriously, the government cannot legally regulate videogames. Even if the president, senate, and house all wanted to do so, they would run up against Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association (link to en.wikipedia.org). In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that video games were protected under the first amendment. So no matter what the president, any political party, or congress wants to do, the only way they could regulate video games is through a constitutional amendment. And I have a feeling no one wants to spend the political capital to do so.

    Probably the only reason for doing this is to distract people from the gun control debate and also to feed the most uptight religious wing of the evangelicals.

    • Evan_ says:

      My fist thought was that Donald just wanted some expert advice on what kind of videogames to play. Guess he can get that in the meantime.

      • davebo says:

        Donald likes TV. Video Games would be too much like work for him.

        • Jimbo says:

          Because becoming President of the United States of America doesn’t take any work.

          • skeletortoise says:

            When you do what you love (appear on TV, speak in front of thousands of adoring fans, troll the media), you don’t work a day in your life.

        • MacTheGeek says:

          President Super Seducer only likes video games he can grab by the, err, controls.

    • KevinLew says:

      The whole point of the meeting is to act like the government is doing something about a real problem but in reality do nothing. It’s just an excuse to have two sides argue pointlessly and until either they declare an impasse or the general public gets bored of the issue.

    • Asurmen says:

      Eh. Not technically true. If they can produce a compelling reason to limit First Amendment rights when it comes to computer games, they can do so without a constitutional amendment.

      It would go all the way to Supreme Court without a doubt, but it could be done.

      • no_seigen says:

        What you described by congress passing a law and it going to the supreme court is the way all somewhat controversial laws are created. Hell, congress could pass a law banning all video games period if they wanted to – the question is not if they can pass a law per say, but if it will survive a supreme court challenge. I don’t believe any law regulating the content of video games would pass judicial scrutiny- especially violent video games.

        Lets get something clear- the bogeyman for the moral right wing/concerned suburban liberal moms is violent video games. Not sex in video games, not even drug use in video games, but violence. This is exactly what the conference with Trump is probably going to be about, and thats exactly what the California law that was overruled in Brown was about.

        Basically the court explicitly said that the government cannot regulate violent speech, but it can regulate sexual content. The only “compelling reason” they could use to regulate access of minors to video games is specifically sexual content, that would fit within the boundaries of what was laid out in the supreme court case Ginsberg vs New York (link to en.wikipedia.org). Other than that, no law regulating video games is going to pass judicial scrutiny. And this law would *only* be able to restrict access of minors to video games- it would not be able to restrict access to adults, as that is the limit of ginsberg. Also, if there was such a hypothetical law, it would realistically only be able to cover material that was pornographic in nature, which is very few video games anyways. but even if such a law were to be made, there is a good chance it would not even survive judicial scrutiny, as the scope of obscenity has been narrowed greatly since the ginsberg ruling.

        • Asurmen says:

          A compelling reason can be whatever the hell it likes, my point being is that it has to be on solid firm ground for it to work. Limits on religion and speech exist because a compelling reason has been presented.

          • no_seigen says:

            That… isn’t how the law works in the united states. There are an extremely limited amount of reasons congress or a state can limit speech, due to 70+ years of SCOTUS cases that have narrowed down the acceptable scope of content-based speech regulation to basically four areas: obscenity, direct incitement to violence, “fighting words” (which is rarely used), and “material aid” to terrorists (which can involve speech such as consulting/training). Other than that, no, compelling reasons cannot be “whatever the hell” it likes.

    • Movac says:

      A constitutional amendment… Or another Supreme Court ruling. The right has not been subtle about their hope of using the Trump presidency to stack the SC in their favor, just ask Merrick Garland.

      • no_seigen says:

        If you were to read the actual wiki article, you would have seen that four out of the five conservative justices voted to protect video games under the 1st amendment. The justice that delivered the opinion enshrining 1st amendment protection on video games was Antonin Scalia, probably the most arch-conservative justice of the past 30 years. The only two justices that voted for regulating video games were Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer, one left and one right wing justice. There is no way that if the law came before the supreme court again there would be anywhere near 5 votes necessary to overrule it, not with the judicial precedent of Brown.

        • Movac says:

          That strikes me as an idealistic view of the court, where cases are decided on the merit of the law filtered through the principles of the justices. I have a different perspective: justices are de facto political agents, and most are entirely willing to apply a broader political strategy to decisions. Even if conservative justices would prefer strong first-amendment protection for video games in the abstract, I have no confidence that they wouldn’t choose to sacrifice that in order to vent political pressure for gun control.

          • no_seigen says:

            You obviously haven’t read much supreme court rulings then. Justices may have political opinions but are very rarely swayed to contradict their past opinions for present political exigencies. Thomas for instance would certainly vote for any regulation of video games. However all other conservative justices have been very consistent in striking down any and all regulations that even approach the limits of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is quite possibly the most robust constitutional protection that exists in the united states in the modern day. To believe that they would overturn constitutional precedent, because of a fleeting political distraction, against their own bedrock of constitutional principles and their past vote supporting said principle, is either paranoia or fancy.

          • Movac says:

            Paranoia, fancy, plain excessive cynicism. Whatever it is, I just hope you’re right and I’m wrong.

  6. anHorse says:

    Honestly if they’re going to scapegoat something I’d rather they scapegoat videogames than the mentally ill. This may hurt a hobby and an industry but that’s a better shit choice than demonizing the very people society should be helping.

    • nitric22 says:

      I agree, and would add however that mental illness is more on the nose as a key piece of the problem the U.S. is currently facing that ties into massacre shootings. Video games are a better scapegoat exactly because they throw the general population off the scent of actual root causes.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Mental Illness only accounts for 4% of all violent crimes (excluding suicide) in the US. So no, its not on the nose.

  7. Da5e says:

    ‘On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society’ is a really, really good book which I recommend to anyone btw; it came in extremely handy when writing character profiles for a graphic novel about PMCs I done once.

    • sherm Churlish says:

      I liked it too, but I thought it got dicey in the last part on video games. It seemed like he was conflating the training the US military uses to increase firing since wwi with FPS games.

  8. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    So what extra-killy games are Americans playing that we’re not getting over here in the UK then?
    Because we’ve had two school shootings in the last thirty odd years and in the US they’ve had more than that in this year um month er week. Americans must be playing the most violent games ever to be that much more aggressive than us Brits.

    Or maybe it’s the guns?

    • Eightball says:

      Yeah, only good old-fashioned acid attacks, rape gangs, and concert bombings in Old Blighty.

      • napoleonic says:

        Literally none of which are actions you can take in video games. Case closed methinks.

        • Evan_ says:

          Postal, Carmageddon and RapeLay pretty much covers all the above.

          Not that I’d slightly suggest that playing these or other games influenced people to commit crimes.

          • Turkey says:

            I don’t think that many kids today are playing incredibly niche edgelord games that came out 57 years ago.

          • Untruth says:

            Don’t forget to mention Leisure Suit Larry in your hit list of games that have had no discernible influence on modern culture!

      • Asurmen says:

        Because none of those things have also happened in the USA, right?

  9. Thulsa Hex says:

    As awful as that list is, hopefully this particular Tipper Gore-esque nonsense will be forgotten within a week. I think it’s telling that neither the Washington Post nor NYT seem to have even mentioned the meeting today (yet, at least), despite ongoing coverage of the fallout from the Parkland shooting. The Guardian is running a story but they call the notion “tenuous” in the headline and they do have their dedicated “Games” section to support.

    It’s still insane just how much else there is to worry about. A quick scan of the top of the Wash Post site:

    Stormy Daniels
    Mueller
    Tariffs
    Florida gun legislation
    Elephant trophy hunting reversal
    White House staff exodus
    More Mueller
    Bank regulations
    Potential non-Mueller Trump catastrophes
    Etc…

  10. automatic says:

    I live in a country where gun ownership is prohibited for the common citizen. Most of the people I know that advocate in favor of gun liberation are the ones who grew up playing games like Counter Strike, GTA and CoD. To add insult to injury they are also mostly conservative people, to the likes of Trump or even worse. I’m not saying games are responsible for those tragedies. This is just so you know the problem is not as simple as it seems.

    • John Walker says:

      Absolutely no one is arguing that the problem is simple. But most people I know, people who don’t play games at all now, grew up playing a bit of GTA and COD, and very few would advocate gun ownership in the UK. This is the problem with anecdotal experience, and why it’s just not helpful when discussing this serious issue.

      I recommend taking a look at a couple of old pieces I wrote in 2010/2011 that offer a properly scientific and balanced look at the potential effects of video gaming violence:

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      • automatic says:

        I understand you know the matter is not simple. I wanted to show that this political bias against games is not unanimous amongst conservative people. Also that different cultures are affected differently by violent games. A culture that for any reason is more leaned towards violence and crime may suffer more from unchecked media violence. But this same culture may also suffer from the violent or criminal repression of unchecked censorship. Not a simple matter at all.

  11. Taintslapper says:

    It really sucks when something that’s a part of your life is being demonized and threatened doesn’t it? Something that you have fond memories of from growing up that you have always done responsibly and never hurt or considered hurting someone else with.

    I’ve been a responsible gun owner all my life as well as a gamer. Some people reading this might already be booing and hissing at me imagining me to be some backwoods redneck proudly sporting my “MAGA” hat but you’d be wrong. I do love shooting but I also recognize that our country has a problem and it’s more dynamic than any one simple change can address. I hope to see changes to our gun laws. If I had my way, owning firearms would require a license that mandated background checks and medical evaluations on a regular basis.
    As far as censoring video games is concerned, I imagine it would be largely pointless. I just wanted to point out that so often we eagerly endorse changes as long as they are changes that don’t affect our own lifestyles.

    • Cynan says:

      It’s fair to point out that, yeah, it sucks when something that is an important part of your life is being demonized as a cause of something awful.

      It’s also fair to point out that the connection between guns and mass shootings is objectively much, much stronger than the connection between video games and mass shootings.

      • Taintslapper says:

        I agree that there certainly is a strong connection and that our firearm laws need change. But like I said, the problem is more dynamic than that. Access to firearms supplies the means to an end, but how do you address the original motivation and desire?

        • Cynan says:

          I agree that there’s a whole lot more to it than controlling access to firearms, and I for one would love to have a conversation about the terrible state of mental health care in the United States.

          That being said, I would argue that access to firearms matters much, much more than the desire to commit violence. The very article we’re commenting on points out that the UK has just as much violent media as the US does, yet we have exponentially more mass shootings. It seems pretty clear that the difference is that we have access to assault weapons and they don’t.

          • sosolidshoe says:

            Point of fact – most of us don’t have access to any guns whatsoever. There are some heavily-regulated exceptions for competitive target shooting, hunting estates(because they’re largely owned and patronised by the rich, and there’s nothing the UK loves more than letting the rich get away with stuff that would land normal folk in jail), and farmers living in the middle of nowhere(by our standards anyway), but you’re talking about super low-calibre pistols that have to be secured at the range, or single & double cartridge shotguns, or air rifles.

            Members of the public can’t buy handguns even low-calibre revolvers, or rifles of any sort, or shotguns etc outside of those very specific circumstances, and even airgun use is tightly controlled. Remember, even most of our police officers don’t carry anything more dangerous than a baton and pepper spray, even arming them with tasers is proving controversial(and rightfully so).

            Now it’s been pretty conclusively demonstrated that disarmament on that kind of scale isn’t practical in America – not because it’s inherently so, Australia are almost as restrictive as us these days but that only happened after a big tragedy over there, just because the culture in the US won’t allow for it – but there’s still plenty that can be done, it just won’t get done because they would hurt sales and the NRA is too deeply embedded into your political class.

      • MajorLag says:

        Is it? We’ve had gun ownership in the US since its foundation, yet mass attacks of this frequency are a recent phenomenon. I’m unconvinced that guns are the problem. Probably if you could magically remove them all you’d see a lot fewer deaths as a result, but it wouldn’t change the fact that there is something sick within our society nurturing these violent and self-destructive tendancies.

    • Thulsa Hex says:

      I’m not trying to offend you but I don’t like the false equivalence you’re making. I do believe that you have this nostalgia and sense of responsibility, but HOW on Earth can irresponsibility with the enjoyment of video games hurt anyone on remotely the same level as a firearm? It doesn’t compare.

      • Taintslapper says:

        You don’t think that inspiration is as powerful as the means to the end? My point is that our problem goes deeper than what a few knee-jerk laws will change.

        • Thulsa Hex says:

          1. When it comes to deadly violence, absolutely no I don’t. The effect is hardly absolute zero, but completely negligible in comparison. The statistics prove that well enough.

          2. Any action on gun control by the U.S. government can hardly be considered “knee-jerk” at this stage, not when these shootings have been happening on a regular basis for decades without much in the way of meaningful action.

          Anyway, I’m not attempting to convince you one way or the other on gun ownership itself–I don’t like it, but you do you. But equating our general frustration with the performative scapegoating of pop culture (be it music, video games or otherwise), with how the legitimate concerns surrounding the lack of gun control (in the wake of horror after horror) make you feel about shooting stuff is… a bad argument at best, and a bad-faith one if I were feeling less generous.

        • April March says:

          You don’t think that inspiration is as powerful as the means to the end?

          No, I do not. Someone who wants to kill but doesn’t have access to tools to do so likely won’t kill anyone, or will kill only a few people if they try really hard. Meanwhile, a misused gun can kill without any intent.

          It’s the same way that being inspired to write a book but not working on it will never result in a book, while working on something for a long time without being insipired will result in… something, at least.

    • napoleonic says:

      When someone murders dozens of children using a computer game I will accept your analogy.

    • Taintslapper says:

      Two people have pointed out that you can’t commit mass murder with a video game. You are absolutely right. For the most part, the violence associated with America’s current problem can be resolved through changes in the manner in which we own firearms. I will also reiterate that I am opposed to censorship in media (this is more of what I was referring to as a “knee jerk reaction”).
      My point is only that we all recognize that American society has a problem that is claiming lives. Everyone has an opinion on how to fix it, but how many people are willing to accept changes to the things they love to fix that problem? I was only hoping to give greater perspective on the subject.

      • John Walker says:

        Well, no, you *were* drawing that false equivalence.

        As we’ve said on RPS a thousand times, if video games are problematic, we’re the very first people who want to know about it. It’s why I’ve reported on the topic so many times over the years, and intensely scrutinised the papers that have been published on the subject.

        I couldn’t care less that video games are having their feelings hurt, or whatever – I care about people dying from gun-related deaths, and that focusing the blame on areas where there’s no evidence to support a causal link distracts from doing anything that might help. That’s why this matters so much, and that’s why I devote my energy into writing about it.

        • Taintslapper says:

          My point is that this is a big enough deal that we should closely evaluate all facets of the problem. I don’t think that any meaningful dialogue will come out of any meeting with Donald Trump’s frankly, but I think that all communities should be looking at areas they could improve instead of everyone breaking into factions and pointing fingers. I respect that you have done research into this and only hope that more people will as well.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Medical evaluations are just another scapegoat. 4% of all violent crimes (excluding suicide) are caused by people with a mental health problem. In fact, if you have a mental illness you are more likely to be a victim of a violent crime.

      If the US is to get serious on gun crime it has to look at the simple commonalities. All of the recent mass shooters have either been arrested for domestic abuse or shown signs of being an abuser. Domestic abuse victims are 8x more likely to be murdered if there’s a gun in the house.

      Gun control has to start with background checks for domestic abuse.

      • Taintslapper says:

        I think the requirement for a medical evaluation would go a long way towards helping individuals from hurting themselves as well.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          You’d be surprised at how little it would. If someone wants to harm themselves they will find a way. I personally know somebody who tried to commit suicide by binging on foods they were allergic too.

          All any attempt to use mental health as a reason to restrict guns is to reinforce the notion that gun violence is a mental health issue, not a gun control issue.

          Its exactly the same as having this meeting. Purely by having this meeting you legitimise the false equivalence between gun violence and computer game violence.

          This fits perfectly in line with Trump and the GOP’s MO. A white nationalist murders an innocent woman in a protest rally. Both sides are at fault. Trump is recorded admitting to sexual assault. Her Emails!

          A racist white nationalist uses a weapon of mass murder to execute the ex-girlfriend he abused and her classmates with a large Jewish minority. Computer games, autism and mental health.

    • SaintAn says:

      People aren’t trying to take all your guns, they’re trying to take the ones no one but the military should have. Assault Rifles and the others that have no use other than mass murder.

      Guns can not be removed from the US without empowering criminals even more since access to guns is as easy to access as drugs on the black market.

      • Jimbo says:

        The ability to kill people efficiently is exactly the property which the Second Amendment is intended to protect. The citizenry being able to arm themselves to a high enough standard that they can effectively defy a foreign (or tyrannical domestic) military is the primary point of it. It wasn’t written to protect deer hunting or target shooting.

        The Second Amendment guarantees that the government should always have a healthy fear of the citizenry, which in turn prevents them ignoring the rest of the constitution any time they feel like it. Without the 2A the rest of it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

        It’s true that it’s now (when combined with other unforeseen factors) contributing to these awful tragedies, but I can certainly still see why so many are reluctant to surrender their rights without a fight. We have seen far worse carried out by governments against unarmed/disarmed populations.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          In order to arm yourself enough to fight a tyrannical government or a foreign power, you would literally need to own nuclear, chemical, and/or biological weapons. Maybe that argument made sense when the 2nd Amendment was written, since the most powerful firearm was a kentucky long rifle, but now it’s just silly.

          • MajorLag says:

            No you wouldn’t. Guerrilla warfare is an effective strategy. The US did not succeed in Vietnam despite the Vietcong not having anywhere near the weaponry or resources of the US military. And in this scenario, US military would be fighting other US citizens. If it is a big enough issue that enough people feel strongly enough about that this level of resistance even exists, then it is pretty likely some of the military would not be on the side of the government.

          • Jimbo says:

            The most powerful military in history has been successfully defied repeatedly by opponents with none of those.

            A modestly armed citizenry may not be able to stop a military superpower intent on systematically wiping out the entire population, but they can certainly make occupation or tyrannical governance have an unbearably high cost.

        • Cynan says:

          If the intent of the Second Amendment was to give the government a healthy fear of the people (and that is eminently debatable – the Second Amendment’s use of the term “well-regulated” suggests government oversight of firearms, not the other way around), then I would argue it has already failed.

          The government has nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, tanks, bombers, aircraft carriers and nuclear subs. The government has no fear of regular citizens with AR-15s. Other citizens do.

          • Jimbo says:

            It says a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. It doesn’t say the right of the people to keep and bear arms should be well regulated – in fact it specifically says that right shall not be infringed.

        • SaintAn says:

          And as soon as a government turned tyrannical or someone invaded the superior technology of the government or invader would pinpoint the location of amateur rebels or defenders and drone strike them and their families into a crater the same way they currently do terrorists, except in America it would be far easier to track people. There is no reason for citizens to have military weapons. If someone wants to defend their country against invaders or tyrants then they should learn to hack and get educated about technology.

          Russia just manipulated Americans to put us at each others throats and got them to vote for a weak lunatic as our leader, weakening the nation significantly just by hacking and not having to fire a single bullet or start a war. That’s because our “patriots” are so weak minded, ignorant, and backwards that they think owning a military weapon will magically ward off America’s enemies.

          At one point in Japanese history the Samurai had to put away their swords and integrate into society. It’s about time our pretend Cowboys put away their guns and do the same so they quit getting children and random people killed because of their idiocy.

          • Jimbo says:

            Is the losing side of America really still blaming Russia for Hillary managing to lose the election despite everything being heavily stacked in her favour? That’s pretty ridiculous.

          • SaintAn says:

            @Jimbo: She was never a good candidate to begin with, she, the DNC, and the Liberals didn’t take the election seriously, she couldn’t even win the primaries on her own so the DNC had to cheat to give their puppet Hillary an advantage over Bernie, and her and her supporters were absolute trash that ran off a lot of her support, but the facts are all there that Russia mass manipulated people to get Trump elected.

    • Taintslapper says:

      I think the last thing I will say on this subject is this; it takes an unbalanced mind to take a gun into a public venue with the intention of hurting people, it takes an unbalanced system to allow it to happen. I have stated numerous times that I’m all for making changes to our system but that’s only half the equation. Our society is not well and we need to look into what is causing it. No, I don’t think it’s video games, I think it seems more from crumbling family systems and lack of empathy. I just hope that instead of falling into our normal groups and reiterating our normal solutions that we all take time to actually consider this from different angles.

      • April March says:

        Again: crumbling family systems and lack of empathy exist everywhere (well, everywhere that industrialized, Western and urban, at least) but only on the US that resolves as a group of lone people walking into places and firing automatic weapons at crowds on a semi-weekly basis.

  12. DanMan says:

    The only good thing that might come from this is that right leaning, young US citizens might like their president a wee bit less, if he decides to pry games from their cold dead hands. And hopefully they’ll remember when they make their cross on the voting ballot next time.

    • Thulsa Hex says:

      Yeah, I’ve wondered about this. No doubt there’s plenty of cross-over between those who yell “censorship” whenever Nintendo of America makes a minute dialog change when translating from the original Japanese and those who voted for this guy, to “stick it to the libs”.

  13. briangw says:

    How about parents do their job and actually parent? I came from a family where my parents divorced so I was noticeably upset in high school. Video games were a way to take my mind off of those times in the 80s and 90s but my father still took an interest in what I did and made sure I got help when I was depressed and started acting out. I swear everytime I see people blame shootings on violent games and movies, I wonder if they weren’t parented well or don’t know how to.

    • Taintslapper says:

      Todays culture is completely different than it was in the 80’s, 90’s, or even early 2000’s. People are more isolated and parents are working longer and longer hours. The family structure from yesteryear largely doesn’t exist any more. I agree completely with you that this is a big part of our problems and I think it’s only going to get worse. Kids grow up with fewer role models or guidance than they did, nor the means to just talk to someone.

  14. NailBombed says:

    From Megadeth’s Hook In Mouth:

    F is for fighting, R is for red,
    Ancestors’ blood in battles they’ve shed.
    E, we elect them, E, we eject them,
    In the land of the free and the home of the brave.
    D, for your dying, O, your overture,
    M is for money and you know what that cures.
    This spells out freedom, it means nothing to me,
    As long as there’s a P.M.R.C.

    Put your hand right up my shirt,
    Pull the strings that make me work,
    Jaws will part, words fall out,
    like a fish with hook in mouth.

    —–

    Scapegoating is what the US establishment does best in the face of the truth. Happened with comics, metal/rock/rave/any music that wasn’t Country & Western, and videogames. Just as long as there’s something easy to blame, they won’t go for the real problem – THE GUNS, and the idiot gun lobbyists. And this won’t change, especially under the current regime.

    • Jimbo says:

      Seems just as lazy to blame guns. Americans had easy access to guns long before they had mass school shootings every week. There is obviously more to it than that.

  15. waltC says:

    American (D)emocrats have been “entertaining” such people for years (talkers against computer games), especially in Nutterville, California…;) For those who don’t know, the (D)-party in the US is a blame-game machine–always looking for people to blame for various things, never looking for “solutions” to problems–only seeking to exploit those problems politically (If (D)s actually “solved” problems they couldn’t use them as voter bait in future elections.) Trump, otoh, has a personal hallmark of very publicly listening to all sides of any debate–and when it’s over Trump remains true to his campaign pledges and speeches. You’ll see nothing censorious of computer games coming from the Trump administration–you’ll see that, as well as attacks on the Internet at large, only from (D)s in the US (the US (D)s *blame* “the Internet” for Clinton’s loss, presumably because the (D)s object to the free speech exercised therein–along with a few *framed* Russian citizens completely outside of the FBI’s jurisdiction. Idiot-level (D)-party Trump obsession is ridiculous to the point of hilarity these days, imo…;))

    • skeletortoise says:

      I think you may have read a different article. On a different site. Perhaps in a different universe.

      • Viral Frog says:

        The way he just talked about the Democrats and Trump? He/she most certainly isn’t reading an article from this universe. And he/she is more than just a little delusional.

    • GeoX says:

      Ooh, a live one.

      • GeoX says:

        …or is this whole comment a joke? I hate the fact that reality and satire are now more or less indistinguishable.

        • skeletortoise says:

          I can’t imagine someone being so committed to a joke that they so tediously and pointlessly do that parentheses D thing a thousand times.

        • Viral Frog says:

          It’s not a joke. US conservatives / Trumpers are this delusional. In fact, most of them are worse than this one.

  16. skeletortoise says:

    “The reason we know these claims are so spurious is that violent video games are played all around the world, but the problem of high school shootings is restricted pretty much to just the one country.”

    I fail to see how this point undermines the idea that video games have an effect. Other countries simply don’t provide the means to carry out acts like these. If every country had the gun culture the US has things would presumably be like this all over.

    Not disagreeing with your broader point or the article, just saying the restriction to the US does not obviously support your argument.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Your statement proves RPS’s point. It’s a gun culture issue, a culture specific to the US.

      Even when the UK allowed legal ownership of handguns we never saw the same amount of massacres as the US. When we last had a mass shooting there was no significant push back against outlawing handguns. That’s because our gun culture was and is different.

      • skeletortoise says:

        But that’s not what that sentence says. Unless there’s a lot of reading between the lines that’s supposed to be going on and I’m supposed to see it as:

        Mass shootings are only a problem in the US > Must be due to the fact that US has a lot of guns > Must be EXCLUSIVELY because the US has a lot of guns with no cultural or societal factors playing a role at all > Video games must not be related whatsoever

        And that third implication is an enormous and completely unjustified leap. I don’t think that’s what John meant to say, but it’s the only way I can square you and him saying “Because the country with all the guns has all the shootings, video games must not be a meaningful factor.” Of course the fact that the US has a lot of guns is the biggest factor, but that doesn’t mean video games don’t move the needle at all. Somebody has to pick the gun up and point it at people. The US’s unique gun situation is irrelevant to whether video games are a factor one way or another, because if a country doesn’t provide access to guns they aren’t in the subset of countries in which shootings are even possible at all.

        The point would make sense if every country had guns but only the US had video games, but the opposite is true.

        • April March says:

          What, no. I can’t see the article making that point at all. It says that, since every country has videogames but only the US has mass shootings, the blame can’t be with videogames alone. Where does he make such an argument regarding guns?

          • skeletortoise says:

            Read the sentence I quoted in the initial comment. The article doesn’t generally say that, but that sentence claims video games not having an impact is evidenced by shootings being restricted to the US. Which it doesn’t, it just proves there is a correlation between many guns and shootings and nothing about video games.

  17. Eightball says:

    The bottom line is that a number of factors (economic, demographic, cultural) have made America life increasingly atomized and alienated in the past half century. America has always been awash in firearms, from the first settlers to the veterans of WW2 who could buy a 30 round semi-auto carbine for $100. There weren’t frequent school shootings.

    • skeletortoise says:

      Quite right, but I think it’s worth considering the idea that the right combination of sickness and creativity didn’t come along until Columbine, and since then every subsequent shooting makes the act more “normalized” in the minds of would be shooters and now we’ve reached something of a critical mass. Perhaps if a school shooting had happened 20 years earlier we’d have been awash with them from that point forward

    • Taintslapper says:

      This is the point that I’m trying, and I think failing to get across above. The problem is going to require more changes to our culture than just gun laws but everyone seems more interested in pointing fingers.

      • April March says:

        Making seatbelts obligatory does not end car-related deaths, but it reduces them, so it is a fair first step.

        Greater gun control does not end mass shootings, but it reduces them.

  18. MrBear says:

    Oh stop it with the “ultra right wing” this and “liberal” that.

    This is not about right or left. Censorship-loving lunatics are on both sides of the fence (the left is currently more in loved with the idea of controlling what people can think, say and do.)

    Years ago German state media, which is definitely not right wing, made TV reports on video games where they claimed outright nonsense like how you win in GTA by raping women and slaughtering school girls with chainsaws, and they concluded only Nazis play FPS. In the wake of the one school shooting that happened in Germany in the 90s they were quick to blame CS (which proved to be false.)

    So no, trying to insert some left vs right nonsense is, as Trump would say, fake news.

    • skeletortoise says:

      This is a fair point generally, but I don’t see what it has to do with this article. There is, to my knowledge, no serious bipartisan push to scapegoat video games for this going on in DC, it’s just conservatives right now. If you’re being attacked by herd of elephants, what’s the use of pointing out that sometimes donkeys also get violent?

    • John Walker says:

      There’s no doubt that the left in US government, not least Tipper Gore, have made equally idiotic claims about video games.

      However, there are no left-wing pro-censorship groups presently calling for the banning of violent games, and everyone involved in this particular instance is coming from the right.

      I’m reporting what’s happening right now, not writing a complete history of the universe. And right now, it is extreme right-wing advocacy groups who are finding their voice through and around the Trump administration, and indeed extreme right-wing advocacy groups who have been invited to the White House.

  19. VLTIONIS says:

    These guys are a bunch of suckers. I already got all the good violent games.

    With such a backlog, who needs the future?

  20. Viral Frog says:

    “And it’s a sorry sight, including names from notorious right-wing censorship advocacy groups, and not a single qualified expert on the topic.”

    Well, that’s our government these days, John. Not a single qualified expert in sight.

    • gi_ty says:

      So sad yet so true. For all of our previous presidents faults he at least pretended to talk to people who knew their business. Trump seems to revel in the idocracy opinions are facts camp whole heartedly. Which I guess is how he got elected……….

  21. SaintAn says:

    Entertainment is the stuff that prevents people from shooting up schools, creating uprisings, rebelling against a corrupt state, rioting, and violent acts, so this is idiotic to use as a distraction and potential scapegoat to protect guns.

    And the people invited to that are absolute villains that I have no doubt will try to get on good terms with this lunatic. People need to boycott Zeni already.

  22. rodan32 says:

    First, I agree that this panel is bullshit. However, that link about Bozell and Obama isn’t fair. (Say whatever else you want about the guy, though.)

    Context: he was commenting on (liberal) Chris Matthews describing Newt Gingrich as looking like a “car bomber”. He wondered how long the career of (conservative) Sean Hannity would last if he used insulting pejorative phrases to describe his political opponents (and the Obama comment was the example he used: “imagine if Hannity said crap like this about Obama”). Basically saying that liberals get away with being offensive where conservatives get called on it. Agree or disagree with that point, he wasn’t describing Obama. He was hypothesizing what would happen if people said offensive things about Obama. Stupid of him to actually say something offensive about Obama, though.

  23. gi_ty says:

    Thanks for a great read John. Between this and the PUA game your on a roll! Thanks for giving me lots of enjoyable internet rage to read today.

  24. edwardoka says:

    L. Brent Bozell III. There’s a name I never thought I’d hear again.

    Glad to hear he’s still hitching his wagon to the irrelevant hand-wringing moral panic train, you’d have thought that being sued by WWE would have shut him up.

  25. TheSplund says:

    And as we all ‘know’, Flight Sims trained the 9/11 pilots. So, what next? Car & Truck Sims to be banned as they could train people in how to drive into crowds of people?

  26. Vasily R says:

    Here, I fixed this sentence for you ;)

    “The left’s core goal is to reduce violence in society, and that’s laudable, but by scapegoating guns with no basis of evidence, they are more likely to distract from identifying the real causes and ultimately scupper their own good intentions.”

    And while I was at it, figured I’d fix this one too :D

    “The reason we know these claims are so spurious is that high gun ownership has existed in the US throughout its history, but the problem of high school shootings is restricted to the last few decades. And indeed that, even though the US’s high school shootings are so troublingly frequent, they still represent the actions of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of all US gun owners, suggesting that either guns don’t cause a person to commit violent acts, or if they are involved, there must be many other significant factors involved too that aren’t being acknowledged.”