White House Orders CDC Study Violent Video

Posted by at 4:03 pm on January 16, 2013

ObamaA Presidential Memorandum(PDF) has been issued in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings, to “protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” Embedded in the proposal is a requirement for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research into any potential connection between video games, other media, and violence. All of the President’s initiatives are commencing today. Speaking today on a nationally-televised address, the President said that “If there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we have an obligation to try it.”

Up to $10 million out of the total $500 million budget for the program is allocated for the CDC to conduct the research, with the President stating that “Congress will fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds.” No specific guidance has been given on how the research would be conducted, but senior White House officials believe the research would commence in 2014.

Officials with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) said that “We concur with President Obama’s call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report’s conclusion that ‘the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play.”

Referring to research completed over the last two decades in the US and other nations, the ESA said in an email statement to Polygon that “The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.”

In December, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has put forth draft legislation that would require the National Academy of Sciences, in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission, to “study the impact of violent video games and violent video programming on children,” despite the fact that several such studies have already been done.

There is an extant rating system established for video game content by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) that uses a six-rating scale, enhanced with clarifying remarks on the type of content found in the game to aid parents in making intelligent gaming purchasing decisions. For instance, first-person shooter Halo 4 is ranked mature (17 years of age and older) for blood and violence. The more profane Borderlands 2 has been given the same rating, for blood and gore, intense violence, language, sexual themes, and use of alcohol.

Rhythm game Dance Dance Revolution which NBC News reports was heavily favored by Lanza, is rated E10– suitable for audiences 10 years of age and up, for language and suggestive themes.

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