The U.S. government isn’t all that concerned about violent video games anymore

white house backs away from demanding access to encrypted data whitehouse
There was a time not too long ago when the United States government seemed poised to bring down the regulatory hammer onto the video game industry over violence in games. Senator Joe Lieberman led the charge in 1993 in response to the gruesome fatalities of the newly-released Mortal Kombat, which ultimately resulted in establishing the ESRB system that still rates games for age-appropriateness.

Mark DeLoura, who served as a senior advisor for digital media to the Obama White House for two years, says that the federal government has changed its tune in recent years. DeLoura advised the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2013 to the end of 2014, following a long career in the video game industry, working for giants like Nintendo, Ubisoft, and THQ.

“What I wonder is if some congressperson…went out there to advocate for us to have tax credits…would they be met with a ‘what’s the redeeming value games?’ argument…They don’t ask that about films.”

The Supreme Court effectively ended the regulation debate with a 2011 ruling that video games are protected as artistic expression under the First Amendment, alongside its older siblings like film and literature. Beyond legal protections, though, the White House has really changed its focus from potential negative impacts of video games to the public good they can serve, as DeLoura told in a recent interview.

Although video game industry figures were called into a meeting with vice president Joe Biden following the tragic Newtown shooting, Biden assured them that the medium was not being singled out for blame, but rather the meeting was held to help address the public perception that games might be involved in real world violence like the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“My takeaway after having been in the White House is there’s an interest in seeing if games can be used to address societal challenges,” explained DeLoura. “That’s the primary interest in games – we’ve seen other modalities in other media have an impact in different ways over time as we learn how to use them to teach people or express concepts. Can games do that? If they’re not doing that how do we get them to do that? If they’re doing it a little, do they want to do it more? How can we encourage this? That’s the interest.”

Fixing the perception of video games

Rather than discussing games as a social ill to be addressed, DeLoura’s expertise was called upon in discussions about a wide range of topics for how games could be used as a tool to spread knowledge and awareness.

“When I would have a conversation inside the White House it would be about ebola. The conversation didn’t typically start with games, it started with a challenge, and then it was like, ‘Is there any way that this community of smart, brilliant passionate people who are working on this new media form… is there some way that they can plug in, do they want to help?’ There was this ebola hack-a-thon in Seattle with a bunch of game developers and it was awesome. When I heard about it, we hooked them up with people who were working on the rollout of the ebola treatment centers.”

The White House has also become more concerned with cultivating the United States video game industry as a major growth field in danger of moving to other countries that offer better economic incentives. The government already offers tax credits for the film industry, and other countries do the same for game developers.

DeLoura added that ultimately this all ties in to the general public perception of video games, and how the government can help push that in a positive direction: “What I wonder is if some congressperson at the state level went out there to advocate for us to have tax credits for games, would they be met with a ‘what’s the redeeming value games?’ argument. Is games just like popcorn [entertainment] and it’s all shooters and violence, and why are we supporting that? They don’t ask that about films. Films are already past that level of conversation in the media.”


For the Gamechanger charity, comforting sick kids with games isn’t child’s play

Gamechanger is a worldwide charity that helps thousands of children each year, bringing them gifts and video games to keep them entertained during their hospital stay. Yet all started in a garage during a family’s darkest hour.
Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Make some room in your backlog. Here are all the games to look out for in 2019

2019 is already a huge year for video games, with a large number of series getting new installments, including some that have been dormant for years. Brand new franchises are also being created.

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.

How to sync and troubleshoot your PS4's DualShock 4 controllers

Sony's Bluetooth-enabled DualShock 4 controllers for PlayStation 4 are some of the best on the market, but connection issues aren't unheard of. Here's how to sync them to your console.
Product Review

The Division 2 brings the most fun we've ever had to Washington, D.C.

After 55 hours with The Division 2, it’s clear that Ubisoft has improved on the original in almost every way. The world is richly detailed, the story missions are wonderful, gunplay and enemy design are great, and the endgame content is…

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.

The Division 2 is another loot shooter with a dull story. Does it matter?

The Division 2 has a story to tell. It's not a good story. It's not told very well. But by-golly, The Division 2 is going to make you sit your ass down and listen whether you want to or not.

A new hope is lost as Disney dismisses rumors of a revival of Lucasfilm Games

According to job listings on the Disney website, the company has plans to revive Lucasfilm Games. This comes as a surprise following the shuttering of LucasArts in 2013 and could potentially mean more Star Wars games.

Last gen had some hits! Take a look at the best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.

Hook up your Nintendo Switch with these deals on accessories right now on Amazon

The Nintendo Switch is a portable system with tons of accessories. The problem is, hooking it up doesn't come cheap. Every week, we look for the best deals on Nintendo Switch accessories on Amazon so you don't have to.

Epic Games is offering $100 million to game developers with no catch

Epic Games launched a new grant program called Epic MegaGrants. The program will dish out $100 million in funds to developers working in the 3D graphics community, even if they don't use Unreal Engine.