This Thursday, January 10, Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with gaming companies, entertainment groups and representatives from the National Rifle Association. Why convene these three disparate sections of the populace? Simple: In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting rampage that occurred on December 14, the United States government has decided that, at the very least, it needs to turn a focused eye toward violence in media. As you might expect (and much to the glee of the NRA), this centers on violent video games, TV shows and films, and what effects they might have on our youth (not to mention any would be mass killers who might emerge at some point in the future).
Biden, who was asked by President Obama to “come up with a broad range of ideas to curb gun violence,” opted to create this roundtable to offer both the NRA and entertainment industry a fair opportunity to voice their respective sides of this divisive issue. Game developers (and Hollywood), as one might expect, claim that violent video games and shows have little impact on a player’s ability to discern right from wrong. No matter how violent media might be, these industries claim, it’s simply not possible for it to influence a sane, rational person toward committing acts of violence in the real world. In turn, the NRA has come out in force since the December 14 shooting, claiming that guns are not the issue, but instead that games and television are gradually eroding our society’s moral base. If these entertainment options were less bloody, the NRA believes, those kids in Connecticut might still be alive today.
While we certainly don’t envy Biden for the decision he will eventually have to submit to the President on this topic, we’re happy to see that this government task force is not solely devoted to the unending argument over violence in the media. In addition to this week’s meeting, Reuters claims that Biden’s group is also examining “legislation that would ban assault rifles” as well as determining whether or not the average person has simple, adequate access to mental health care facilities and professionals.
It’s currently unclear as to which gaming industry professionals will find themselves exchanging ideas with the Vice President on Thursday, but the NRA has stated that it will send James J. Baker, the group’s top government lobbyist, to the meeting. As you’d expect, Baker can be a very convincing voice, so hopefully the gaming biz can find representation from an equally eloquent, engaging figure. We’d suggest SimCity creator Will Wright or Valve Software head Gabe Newell, but it’s anyone’s guess who the government has listed in its no doubt massive Rolodex.
Hollywood, by contrast, we worry less about. Sure, the NRA has some intensely powerful lobbyists, but given the huge profits regularly pulled down by studio executives and the massive mindshare the industry controls, we have little doubt that the major movie studios will be able to find adequate representation. Baker may be a seasoned speaker whose speciality is swaying government officials to his point of view, but Hollywood could very easily counter that with any number of its standout figures. Send Tom Hanks to meet with Joe Biden and this whole issue could be wrapped up in less than half an hour.
Anyway, we’ll bring you word on what transpired at Thursday’s meeting just as soon as such information is available.