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Vice President Biden: Games are not being singled out in media violence debate

Vice President Joe Biden

Last week we brought you word on a task force created by US Vice President Joe Biden in response to the December 14 shooting tragedy which occurred at Newtown, CT’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. At the time Biden was scheduled to meet later with unnamed representatives from the video game industry as well as top NRA lobbyist James J. Baker. Those meetings were conducted toward the end of last week, and this morning the White House issued a YouTube video of Biden discussing what he’s learned.

You can find that clip embedded at the bottom of this text, but the most thematically crucial part (at least for us) of Biden’s message lies in his attempts to soothe the nerves of the gaming public. We don’t actually learn much about the government’s gradually-forming plan to combat rampant violence from Biden, but he does his best to reassure gamers that his task force’s efforts are not to be seen as a government attempt to attack violent games. These meetings were purely a learning experience, Biden claims, and the Obama administration is a long ways from deciding how best to tackle this issue.

“We know that there is no silver bullet. As one of my friends said, [there is] no seat belt we can put on to ensure we will not be in this circumstance again,” Biden states. “We know this is a complex problem. We know there’s no single answer, and quite frankly we don’t even know whether some of the things people think impact on this actually impact on it or not.”

“So I want you to know you have not been ‘singled out’ for help,” Biden said, patting EA CEO John Riccitello on the shoulder.

“I come to this meeting with no judgment. We’re looking for help. I understand that a few of you here are researchers, assessing the impact, if any, on behavior. We’re anxious to see if there’s anything you can suggest to us.”

Well that’s helpful, but wouldn’t this all be more comforting if Biden were meeting with groups other than games creators and the National Rifle Association? It absolutely would, and that’s why Biden’s task force has been doing just that. According to Biden, his group has polled a number of organizations, including law enforcement officials, civil rights groups and interfaith communities (despite America’s endlessly hypocritical “separation of church and state” clause).

Normally this is where we’d find a seam and start picking apart whatever the topic might be, but in this case it seems as if Vice President Biden has a decidedly realistic, pragmatic view on this entire “media violence” topic. “There’s no measure that I’m aware of to be able to determine whether or not there’s a coarsening of our culture [via media] in a way that is not healthy,” Biden states. “I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m not sure what kind of impact it would have or wouldn’t have on the kind of events we’re looking at.”

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