US President Donald Trump will meet with representatives of the videogame industry tomorrow to discuss matters of violence in videogames, and their impact on incidents of real-world violence such as school shootings. It's still unknown exactly who will be attending, although the ESA confirmed earlier this week that it will be one of the invited parties.
One group that apparently will not be taking part, however, is the International Game Developers Association. The IGDA took to Twitter today to express what could best be described as disdain for the process.
1/ Let's be blunt on video games and gun violence-we will not be used as a scapegoat. The facts are very clear-no study has shown a causal relationship between playing video games and gun violence.March 7, 2018
"The stereotype of gamers as disaffected teenage boys is simply untrue: 41% of the 150M+ gamers in the United States are women, and more women over 35 play videogames than boys under 18," the IGDA said in followup tweets. "Gamers come from all walks of life. We're all genders, all ages. We're teachers and students, parents and children."
"Making videogames—or any form of media—a scapegoat for consistently refusing to even CONSIDER the reasonable, rational firearm restrictions Americans want and deserve isn't fooling anyone."
As much as I support the sentiment behind the message, I worry that the IGDA's belief that people aren't being fooled by the effort to link videogames to violent behavior is optimistic. The fact that this meeting, and the conversation around it, are taking place at all suggests that the rhetoric is fooling some people.
Regardless of what you think of the "callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people"—that would be the game industry, as described by National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre in 2012—evidence of a causal link between violent games and violent real-world behavior remains elusive.
Some studies have connected violent games with heightened aggression, but don't answer the question of whether the games are a trigger or a symptom of a pre-existing aggressive disposition. The American Psychological Association also noted a certain vagueness in the terminology used in many studies, stating in a 2015 report that all violence is aggression, "but not all aggression is violence." And as the IGDA noted anecdotally, violent videogames are played worldwide, "but we're unique in our problem with gun violence."
One person who's clearly excited about the meeting is Jack Thompson, a high-profile critic of the videogame industry and former attorney who was permanently disbarred in 2008. In an email sent to Kotaku last week he compared the meeting to asking Mexican drug lords how to address the opioid crisis, and said he was working on getting an invitation, presumably in order to serve as the voice of reason.