During a press briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that President Trump was planning to meet executives within the video game industry next week to discuss the issue of gun violence. But the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the industry, says it hasn’t received any invitations.
Sanders said Trump has already “met with a number of stakeholders” involved in the gun control debate. “Next week, he’ll also be meeting with members of the video game industry to see what they can do on that front as well. This is going to be an ongoing process and something that we don’t expect to happen overnight, but something that 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,” she added.
Several politicians and public figures have spoken out against video games in the wake of the Florida high school shooting that left 17 dead. Rhode Island Representative Robert Nardolillo and Kentucky governor Matt Bevin are two high-profile figures who have blamed games for influencing violent acts, despite a lack of solid scientific evidence linking the two.
Trump has expressed a similar, if slightly more moderate, view on the subject. At a recent meeting with lawmakers, he said: "It's hard to believe that at least for a percentage—maybe it's a small percentage of children—this [media violence] doesn't have a negative impact on their thought process."
Despite Sanders’ claims, the ESA said neither it nor its member companies had received any invitations to meet with Trump. It counts virtually every large video game publisher among its members, including Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Activision, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Square Enix, and Ubisoft.
“The same video games played in the US are played worldwide,” the ESA added. “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.”
Earlier this week, a Chicago judge banned a teenager from playing violent video games (Mario Kart is okay) after he made a shooting threat on social media.