US President Donald Trump yesterday held a private meeting to discuss the issue of violence in video games, having suggested after February’s murders at a school in Parkland, Florida that it “is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” This would clearly amount to nothing productive, given mostly industry representatives and conservative pressure groups were attending, but it is a surprise that Trump showed attendees a short video montage of video game deaths. The White House have released this publicly, so we can all see a sloppy montage of deaths from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Fallout 4, and more. Somehow it isn’t a surprise that some clips are clearly ripped from YouTubers – watermarks and all.
As frag montages go, it’s pretty rubbish.
“This is violent isn’t it?” Trump asked after the video, attendee Representative Vicky Hartzler told the Washington Post.
Clips are from Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Dead By Daylight, Fallout 4, Sniper Elite 4, The Evil Within, and Wolfenstein: The New Order. All of those games are rated Mature 17+ by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the self-regulatory body formed by the Entertainment Software Association in the 90s to fend off threats of the US government cracking down on the medium during an earlier moral panic.
I would be fascinated to learn who put that video together, how they chose the games and how they found the clips. Some are just so odd. And as displays of gratuitous virtuaviolence intended to shock go, I could do a lot better.
The moral watchdogs in attendance said that violent media is why the USA has an unparalleled problem with mass killings by teenagers armed with guns, according to the WashPo’s accounts from attendees, while representatives of video game publishers said there’s no connection between video games and violence and that the industry self-polices with its rating system so it’s fine. That’s about what you’d expect both sides to say. With no credible experts present at the meeting, that was that.
Senator Marco Rubio acknowledged after the meeting that there’s no evidence linking violent games to the Parkland murders, the WashPo reported, but he wanted to ensure “parents are aware of the resources available to them to monitor and control the entertainment their children are exposed to.”
Indications would suggest that we’re unlikely to see any major crackdown on video games in the name of stopping school shootings, though President Trump has often surprised even his own advisers with rash announcements so who the hell knows really. But I’d be surprised if much more happens than perhaps the ESA and ESRB saying “Oh, yes, do check the ratings label, parents” a bit louder. This is more performative scapegoating by yet another administration in the only country on Earth which suffers this problem on such a deadly scale.