In the wake of a pair of mass shootings, video games have gotten renewed scrutiny as contributing to a culture of violence. President Trump’s first address following the tragedies put the blame partially on video games, which Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick called irresponsible. Zelnick has now doubled-down on this statement in a second interview, saying it’s disrespectful to criticize entertainment.
In an interview with Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, Zelnick reiterated his earlier comments about gun violence, and went a step further by suggesting that entertainment is a positive element enjoyed by most people, including the victims of violence and their families.
“The truth is it’s disrespectful to the victims and the families to point the finger at entertainment,” he said. “Entertainment is part of people’s daily joy. It’s consumed worldwide, and it’s the same worldwide. Gun violence is uniquely American. That has to change and that will only change if we address the real issues.”
Pushed by Cramer on whether he would pull a video game from shelves if the evidence showed video games were responsible for real-world violence, Zelnick answered, “In the same way that I wouldn’t choose to market substances that cause people to get sick.”
Zelnick’s comments echo a similar argument across the games industry–that games are enjoyed worldwide, but America has far more mass shootings, and therefore there must not be a causal link between the two. Still, retail giant Walmart has pulled some violent media signage, including but not limited to video games.
Meanwhile, in a different political arena, video games have been criticized for loot boxes. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently held an open forum on the issue, where the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced a new policy across several platform-holders and publishers to disclose loot box odds.