On March 8, United States President Donald Trump sat down with Republican Senators, key leaders of the video game industry, and activists who wish to implement tighter restrictions on titles that feature violent content. Those who represented the video game industry included:
* Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick
* ZeniMax Media CEO Robert Altman
* Entertainment Software Association CEO Mike Gallagher
* Entertainment Software Rating Board CEO Patricia Vance
Bethesda Softworks, a renowned developer of online multiplayer games such as Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls, is one of the companies managed by ZeniMax Media. Take-Two Interactive is a major distributor of Rockstar Games, a studio that is mostly known for its controversial, best-selling titles such as the Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne series. GTA Online and the Rockstar Social Club are the among the most popular social gaming titles in 2018.
The White House meeting started with a viewing of a digital video compilation featuring graphically violent clips from PC games such as “The Evil Within,” “Call of Duty” and “Sniper Elite 4.” President Trump, who organized the meeting in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, rhetorically asked Republican Senators in attendance if the digital content shown was violent.
One of the Republican Senators at the meeting was Marco Rubio of Florida, a politician who has been previously groomed by his party as a future presidential candidate, Senator Rubio was lambasted at a meeting with survivors of the aforementioned massacre, which caused 17 deaths. He has been criticized for his apparent reticence in supporting gun control measures and for his insistence on enacting more censorship on the video game industry. This is hardly the first time the PC gaming and gun violence issue in the U.S. has been discussed at the highest political levels.
Unlike many other meetings organized by the embattled President Trump, this one was respectful, although neither side seemed to agree or yield. Other video game industry groups that did not attend the meeting issued strong statements of opposition, explaining that they were not willing to be scapegoats in the gun violence debate.
Although violence is more often associated with AAA games such as Sniper Elite, quite a few social gaming titles have been criticized for featuring violent content.