Yesterday, U.S. president Donald Trump held a meeting with video game executives regarding the issue of violence in video games, an event which was triggered by a recent series of high school shootings in the country. Trump himself has stated the opinion that the shooting in Parkland, Florida could have potentially been motivated by video games - despite numerous historical studies which have found such games do not result in violence.
During the meeting - which included Robert Altman, CEO of Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, and Michael Gallagher, chief of the ESA - the White House showed a compilation of footage taken from popular franchises such as Call of Duty, Sniper Elite and Fallout. The footage was taken directly from YouTube, with many of the clips still bearing the watermarks of the channels that originally hosted them.
You can watch the video below. Be warned that it does contain some scenes of violence, and paradoxically, the White House has chosen not to restrict access with an age gate, or make any attempt to warn viewers of the content contained within (something the video game industry does do). Taken entirely out of the context, the footage is shocking - but it should be noted that all of the games shown in it are subject to self-imposed age ratings already.
"This is violent, isn’t it?" president Trump is reported to have said to the video game execs present.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said:
The president encouraged [game developers] to explore things they can do on their own to make things healthier in society, and that’s where it was left.
According to The Verge:
Attendees said there was little serious talk of government restrictions on content (which would present significant legal challenges), and the conversation focused on more robust age restrictions or voluntary measures that could be undertaken by the industry itself.
The ESA has issued a statement which says:
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.
Not to be outdone, the White House released its own statement shortly afterwards:
The President acknowledged some studies have indicated there is a correlation between video game violence and real violence. The conversation centered on whether violent video games, including games that graphically simulate killing, desensitize our community to violence.
Bozell was interviewed by The Verge afterwards, and said:
I don’t think there should be any government control over it. But there is some programming that contains just absolute mind-boggling violence. We’ve all seen it. Is it appropriate in a civilized world to have that? Or could the industry listen to the better angels of their nature and say, we just don’t want to do it, on a voluntary basis?
This isn't a debate directly linked to Nintendo, and the vast majority of violent games appear on PS4, Xbox One and PC. However, Call of Duty titles have been available on past Nintendo consoles, and the Switch has its own selection of violent games - such as L.A. Noire, DOOM and Bayonetta 2. Therefore, these discussions could potentially have an impact on Nintendo as well as Sony, Microsoft and the many other publishers and developers operating within the games industry.