Exactly 279 days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre one can still purchase and play the video game, Kindergarten Killers.

Just this week, we learned that DC Navy Shipyard sniper, Aaron Alexis, played Call of Duty and Zombie video games up to 16-hours a day. That fits the classic definition of an obsession.

The media is starting to become vigilant about the impact of particular video games, just as it has frequently critiqued the reported 300 million firearms in this country, suggesting both are the telltale signs of a violent society.

It seems that the right is protecting the $11.7 billion (US) firearms and ammunition industry, and the left is shielding the $68 billion (worldwide) interactive entertainment industry.

One hides behind the Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms) of the United States Constitution. The other points to the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

The question that needs to be asked as one tragedy follows another horrific event, is this really a mutually exclusive exercise?

navyyard

Before Almost DailyBrett says anything further on this question, let me first state that I support background checks, limitations on detachable magazines, and registration of any-and-all firearms. I have never cared for guns, and I doubt that I ever will.

When I was the press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, I was proud to be a small, vocal part of the effort that led to California banning assault weapons. As the governor said at the time, he saw absolutely no reason why someone needs an AK-47, AR-10 or M-16 assault weapon to simply go hunting.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) under the direction of Wayne LaPierre vehemently and vocally disagreed with our decision. The NRA was wrong then. It is wrong now.

Let me also go on the record that I rarely play video games, albeit I was attempting to play bass and sing last Saturday night for an after dinner game of Rock Band. When my daughter was young, I would join her for a round of Croc, ending up in the hot lava every time.

More to the point, I am supportive of the First Amendment but recognize there are limits. Yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre is the oft-repeated limitation to the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech.

Should the government come down on the video game (interactive entertainment) industry to ban violent video games? My libertarian tendencies tend to not want to encourage even more government incursion into free markets.

Having said that, I agree with Ohio State Professor of Communications Brad Bushman when he stated that, “These games aren’t harmless.”

During the course of my career I have served two nationwide trade associations, first as the Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Forest Resource Alliance (AFRA) and later as the Director of Communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

These two trade associations, trees and chips, and many others just like them represent entire industries and the companies that are association members. Most are located in Washington, D.C. and represent (e.g., lobby) the points of view of their members. The NRA is a lobbying organization. Ditto for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) under Michael Gallagher.

The NRA has adopted a stance of precluding any camel from sticking its nose under the gun industry and ammunition tent. It even points to the interactive entertainment industry to deflect blame from guns.

The Entertainment Software Association may actually benefit from having such a high-impact enemy in the form of LaPierre and the NRA, but it still has a problem. Are game developers and manufacturers turning a blind eye on the Adam Lanza’s (Newtown killer) and Aaron Alexis’ of the world, who were obsessed with these games and guns?

videogamesviolence

What about violent movies? One could reply that movies are passive, while game players are active in their use of simulated weapons. Killing “people” becomes somehow, enjoyable.

The interactive entertainment industry has an ongoing public relations issue that most likely will intensify with each shooting in which the sniper was spurred on by gratuitous violence video games. Yes, there is a correlation and more to the PR point: There is a definitive and growing public perception of these over-the-top violent games.

Will hiding behind the First Amendment solve the problem? After all, the executive branch, Congress and the courts won’t impede the First Amendment rights of those who concoct and develop Kindergarten Killers. Right?

Do they (video game developers) want to wait and find out?

Almost DailyBrett embraces the notion of “Manage or Be Managed.”

It is time for the ESA to set standards for its members about violent content, clearly recognizing when a game goes too far. Merely, putting ratings on the side of the game is obviously not enough. Video games can obviously be addictive. What can be done about that? Is there a role here for social marketing?

videogames

The industry needs to take a proactive stance to not only protect its collective livelihood, but also to do the right thing in the face of these senseless killings. Something was clearly wrong with Aaron Alexis as evidenced by him playing video games for 16-hours a clip, and then heading out to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. heavily armed.

Could video games have contributed to this tragedy? That seems obvious.

The industry has the opportunity to self-regulate or manage itself. The NRA is beyond that, and has adopted a confrontational point of no return.

One would think the ESA does not want to follow in the NRA’s footsteps.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10314585/Aaron-Alexis-Washington-navy-yard-gunman-obsessed-with-violent-video-games.html

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/09/dont-blame-violent-video-games-mondays-mass-shooting/69499/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/18/opinion/bushman-video-games/?hpt=hp_t2

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/12/21/kindergarten_killers_nra_s_wayne_lapierre_blames_violent_video_games_for.html

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/12/so-who-made-kindergarten-killer-anyway/

http://www.igda.org/

http://www.theesa.com/about/leadership.asp

http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Video_game_industry

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/19/seven-facts-about-the-u-s-gun-industry/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/28/us/connecticut-shooting-documents/index.html

http://www.meetthenra.org/nra-member/wayne-lapierre

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/manage-or-be-managed/

 

 

Advertisements