Vice President Joseph Biden is about to start his second meeting with entertainment industry officials to talk about gun violence in the media, this time focusing on the videogame business.
His office released a list of participants in the session, including representatives from major vidgame firms as well as university experts on the impact of virtual violence on behavior.
The list includes reps from Activision Blizzard, Inc.; Electronic Arts; E-Line Media; Entertainment Software Association's Mike Gallagher; the Entertainment Software Ratings Board; Epic Games; GameStop; the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop; Take-Two Interactive; Texas A&M; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Zenimax Media. Also participating will be a consultant for the video game industry and the leader of a government-funded study on the effects of video games on young teenagers.
What is telling is that Biden singled out the videogame industry for a separate meeting today, having met with representatives from the movie and TV business on Thursday evening. It's an indication that the administration treats videogames, with its interactivity, differently, and the presense of researchers in today's meeting certainly will make the discussion different. The National Rifle Assn., in their initial press appearance following the Newtown, Conn., blamed media and violent videogames for the mayhem, even as the industry itself pointed to research showing that the impact of such violence is either inconclusive or not supported by evidence. In the 2011 Supreme Court decision striking down California's violent videogame law, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion, dismissed and even mocked the research that has been done alleging a causal relationship between virtual and real-life violence.
Update: Per CBS News' Mark Knoller, Biden told the videogame industry reps that they were "not being singled out by his task force on gun violence." He also said that he is "anxious to hear their ideas."
Second update: Biden said that there was not a "silver bullet" to solve the issue of gun violence.
In a press availability with the videogame makers, Biden said at the start, "I come to this meeting with no judgment. You all know the judgment other people have made."
He suggested that he would be listening to their ideas.
He also raised the question of whether there was a "coarsening of our culture," and then said, "I do not know the answer to that question."
Biden sat next to John Riccitiello of Electronic Arts and Michael Gallagher, President & CEO, Entertainment Software Association. Also at the table were Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, in addition to other industry reps.
Third update: One org that was not represented at Friday’s meeting was the Entertainment Merchants Assn., which challenged California’s videogame law. But the org’s interim president, Mark Fisher, sent Biden a four-page letter ealier this week, in which he said that “blaming movies and video games is an attempt to distract the attention of the public and the media from meaningful action that will keep our children safer.” He defended the effectiveness of the voluntary videogame ratings system, citing a recent FTC report, and pointed to the Supreme Court decision as a reason why “it seems clear that government restrictions on the dissemination of depictions of violence are impermissible.”
He also said that a “multitude of previous studies” had shown that “depictions of violence have a de minimus impact on real-world violence,” and government probes over the past decade have not identified media sources among the factors in causing shooting rampages at schools.
A copy of Fisher's complete letter to Biden is here.