In light of two mass shootings over the weekend — one in El Paso, Texas that resulted in 22 deaths, and another in Dayton, Ohio, in which nine people were killed — President Donald Trump spoke out against “gruesome and violent video games” in a press conference this morning, noting that they contribute to the “glorification of violence in our society.”
In response, per The Hollywood Reporter, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) — the trade organization of the video game industry in the United States, which is also responsible for rating games nationally — is speaking out against what it considers a mischaracterization by the President. (The Trump administration previously condemned gaming in Feb. 2018, the Reporter notes, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people perished).
“More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide,” a spokesperson for the ESA said in a statement, per the Reporter. “Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”
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Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive — the publisher of illustrious games like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K — echoed these concerns. “We’re sickened and saddened by these tragedies,” he said. “But blaming entertainment is irresponsible, and moreover it’s disrespectful to the victims and their families…Entertainment is consumed worldwide. It’s the same worldwide. Gun violence is uniquely American and we need to address the real issues.”