Trump administration increasingly bringing video games into school safety debate

Donald Trump apparently wants some face-to-face time with members of the video game industry following the tragic Florida school shooting last month.

“Next week [President Trump will] also be meeting with members of the video game industry to see what they can do on that front,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing yesterday (see the video below at timestamp 6:30). Huckabee was answering a question about why the ‘Fix Nics’ gun control legislation had suddenly been held up.

“This is going to be an ongoing process and something we don’t expect to happen overnight,” she added, “but something we’re going to continue to be engaged in and continue to look for the best ways possible to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect schools across the country.”

Who she means by “members of the video game industry”, however, is unclear. America houses some of the world’s largest video game developers, but the Entertainment Software Association, which represents them and is an obvious first port of call for such a meeting, said it had received no such invitation from the Trump administration. “ESA and our member companies have not received an invitation to meet with President Trump,” the organisation said in a statement sent to Kotaku.

Trump’s apparent desire to meet with the video games industry comes after he name-dropped video games as having a negative impact on shaping young people’s minds during a school safety meeting on 22nd February – again in wake of the tragic Florida school shooting.

“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. And we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it,” President Trump said, via a transcript from the White House website.

“And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent. And yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”

It’s against this backdrop – against this fear Trump will start piling blame on video games – the ESA’s statement continued.

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“The same video games played in the US are played worldwide,” the ESA said. “However, the level of gun violence is exponentially higher in the US than in other countries. Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found there is no link between media content and real-life violence.

“The US video game industry has a long history of partnering with parents and more than 20 years of rating video games through the Entertainment Software Rating Board. We take great steps to provide tools to help players and parents make informed entertainment decisions.”

Similar reactions spread across the video games industry last night, including one well-worded tweet by Microsoft Mixer community manager Josh Stein, who said, “Take whatever political stance you want but the video gaming industry is a vast and global market. The current issue with school safety being discussed is not a global issue, it’s a USA issue.

“If video games were the problem then every country would be suffering from this.”