March 8 (UPI) — Video game executives who met with President Donald Trump on Thursday defended the industry’s stance that violence in media isn’t linked to aggressive behavior.
Representatives from ZeniMax (which makes Fallout), Take Two Interactive (Grand Theft Auto) and the Entertainment Software Association met with the president at the White House along with media critics and lawmakers. Trump convened the meeting to discuss the correlation between violent video games and aggression in children less than a month after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida left 17 people dead.
Melissa Henson, spokeswoman for Parents Television Council, said Trump started off the meeting with a montage of clips showing violence in a variety of video games.
“They started by showing some violent video games and [Trump] was pointing out how violent those scenes were. I think for many of us there, there was a shocked silence,” she told reporters after the meeting. “Those from the video game industry were quick to defend [the video games] saying they were meant for a mature audience and that they weren’t intended for kids to see.”
Attendees at the meeting told The Washington Post that Trump said “we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it.” They said Trump appeared open to suggestions on how to solve the problem.
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Council, suggested new regulations to make it more difficult for young people to access some video games with violent content.
Still, the video game executives were “every bit as firm in their conviction there is no relation” between video game violence and aggression in children.
Studies in recent years haven’t found a correlation between the two. In research in 2004 by the U.S. Secret Service, one-eighth of school shooters regularly played violent video games.
Also, researchers at the University of York in Britain found no evidence that video games make players more violent. More than 3,000 participants participated in the study.
“We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices,” a statement from the Entertainment Software Association said Thursday after the meeting. “We appreciate the president’s receptive and comprehensive approach to this discussion.”
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said in a statement after the meeting that attendees made “significant progress.”
“Today’s meeting was an opportunity to learn and hear from different sides about concerns and possible solutions to violence in schools,” Hartzler said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden held a similar meeting with members of the video game industry in the weeks after the fatal mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.