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Trump: 'Violence on videogames is really shaping young people's thoughts' (Updated)

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Update 2: The White House has now told Peter Alexander that invitations to Trump's videogame conference haven't actually been sent yet, but will go out soon. 

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Update: The trade organization that represents the video game industry, the ESA, tells PC Gamer that it has not been invited to the White House.

“The ESA and our member companies have not received an invitation to meet with President Trump,” says ESA rep Dan Hewitt. 

Those members include the biggest publishers, like Capcom, EA, Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Ubisoft, WB, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nexon, PlayStation, and more, which casts some confusion on who exactly President Trump is claiming to have invited, or whether anyone's been invited at all.

Original story:

The mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that took place last month left 14 students and three staff members dead, and numerous others injured. It's also reignited a debate that sounds like it came straight out of 1993 regarding the role that violent videogames play in causing or contributing to violent behavior. 

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In a meeting that took place a week after the murders, Donald Trump said the US government needs to "do something" to address the issue—not something about guns, but about violent media. 

"We have to do something about maybe what they're seeing and how they're seeing it," Trump said during a meeting on school safety. "And also videogames. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on videogames is really shaping young people's thoughts."  

At the time, the pronouncement seemed more deflective than substantial, but now it appears that the White House is running with it. Peter Alexander of NBC News said on Twitter earlier today that Trump is going to meet with videogame industry executives next week "as part of [an] ongoing debate over school safety," a meeting confirmed by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 

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It's pure political grandstanding, but troublesome nonetheless in the way that those involved are so enthusiastically seizing on the tired "videogames cause violence" angle despite the utter dearth of any actual evidence linking the two. Regarding the Stoneman Douglas murders specifically, there has been no connection made between the killer and videogames, although there is ample evidence of racism, homophobia, and a preoccupation with guns.   

The meetup will come roughly 23 years after the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which despite the occasional faceplant has been consistently recognize by the FTC as an effective system of regulation, and is probably the most visible recent reminder of the persistent belief in a connection between videogames and violent behavior in the real world. But it's hardly alone: A Rhode Island representative called for a special ten percent tax on violent videogames last week, and as reported by Ars Technica, a judge in Chicago recently banned a 16-year-old in home detention from playing them. 

It's not yet known which game industry executives will be attending the meeting, but I've reached out to the ESA for more information and will update if I receive a reply.

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.