Trump Enters Familiar Debate on Video Games, Violence

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A meeting called by President Trump on Thursday about the interplay between video games and real-world violence will revisit territory already well-trodden by politicians over decades, including Hillary Clinton, Politico reports. Trump is trying to focus attention on mental health after last month’s mass shooting in Parkland, Fl. More than a decade ago, it was New York Sen. Hillary Clinton waging the crusade against what she called the corrosive effect that violent games could be having on children’s mental states. Lawmakers first raised concerns in the 1990s that violent and increasingly realistic video games not only glorify gore but desensitize players to its consequences.

The debate flares up after episodes like the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. A former neighbor said Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz played video games for upwards of 15 hours per day. “It was kill, kill, kill, blow up something, and kill some more, all day,” the neighbor said. The video game industry says that violent crime has dropped since the 1990s as video game sales hit record highs. Video games are played worldwide, but mass shootings are an American problem, the industry says. Industry representatives will trek to the White House so Trump can take his turn at the issue. The meeting pits major players from the industry against fierce critics who have long pushed lawmakers to assert more control over violent content in media. Michael Gallagher of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is slated to attend, as is Robert Altman, the chairman and CEO of ZeniMax Media. They’ll face detractors like Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center and Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council, who have pointed a finger at video game makers after previous mass shootings. ESA says that no scientific research validates a link between computer and video games and violence.

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