Take-Two boss says linking videogames to gun violence is 'disrespectful' to victims

(Image credit: CNBC)

Speaking in a recent episode of CNBC's financial talk show Mad Money, Take-Two Interactive chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick said the suggestion that videogames cause real-world violence is "disrespectful" to victims and their families.

"This is a terrible tragedy, a senseless tragedy. It's fun to talk about entertainment, but lives were lost," Zelnick said. "The truth is, it's disrespectful to the victims and the families to point the finger at entertainment. Entertainment is part of people's daily joy, and it's consumed worldwide, and it's the same worldwide. Gun violence is uniquely American. And that has to change, and it will only change if we address the real issues."

As the publisher of the Grand Theft Auto series (among others), Zelnick knows a thing or two about campaigns to blame games for violent behavior. Take-Two was a favorite target of disgraced former attorney and anti-game crusader Jack Thompson (Thompson once ratted out Strauss to Mrs. Zelnick, and I'm not making that up), until Thompson agreed in a lawsuit settlement to stop threatening to sue Take Two and attempting to block the sale of its games. 

Zelnick's comments follow a statement made earlier this month by US president Donald Trump, who in the wake of mass murders in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, called out "grisly and violent videogames" for the influence they have on young people. 

"It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence," Trump said. "We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately. Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life."

Zelnick said that if evidence was ever found indicating that a game caused violent behavior, he would stop selling it, "in the same way that I wouldn't choose to market substances that cause people to get sick."

Despite the absence of that evidence, the US government has continued with efforts to link videogames to gun violence, instead of, for instance, guns.

Thanks, VGC.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.