Lately, it’s been very hard to turn on the TV or read the news without hearing about violence in movies and video games. On January 11, Vice President Joe Biden held a discussion with some of the leading industry professionals, along with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder, to examine the issue.
Present at the meeting were game developers and publishers, such as Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Epic Games, ZeniMax Media (the publisher behind Bethesda Softworks), and Activision Blizzard. Executives from the Entertainment Software Ratings Boards (ESRB), the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and video game retailer GameStop were also included, along with Christopher Ferguson, professor of psychology at Texas A&M.
The decision to have members of the gaming industry at the meeting was met with much criticism, but Vice President Biden felt that it was necessary in order to properly discuss the topic at hand. He opened the discussion saying “I come to this meeting with no judgment. You all know the judgment other people have made.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Ferguson, who has written about the impact of violence in video games, noted that this was the overall feeling at the meeting, stating that “Part of it was sort of a fact-finding thing for the VP,” and that he “felt Biden had done his best to avoid turning the meetings with game industry leaders into a witch hunt.”
Ferguson also went on to say that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome, stating:
I couldn’t say that the vice president had his arms around the industry and was saying how wonderful it was on the one hand… But on the other hand, I didn’t detect that instantaneous rush to judgment and say the most negative thing either. I think he’s in a sort of neutral or agnostic position, which is probably quite reasonable with where they’re at right now.
Many feel that the presence of industry executives stands as an admission of guilt, while others, Ferguson included, feel that not going to the meeting would have been far worse. As of now, it’s hard to say what impact the meeting will have on the gaming industry, but it’s important to note that such a discussion is a positive thing for us as gamers, especially after we have become so misrepresented. With Vice President Biden being so open to hearing the side of the industry, perhaps this debate may finally see some closure.
We’ll have more updates as they are released, and you can watch some of the discussion below.