In addition to asking the gaming community to voice its collective opinion on discussions on video games taking place in Washington this week, the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has written a letter to Vice-President Joe Biden, who is heading up a task force to look at ways to deal with gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting that happened in mid-December.
Penned by the ECA's Vice President & General Counsel Jennifer Mercurio, the letter urges the Vice-President to take into consideration research from Christopher J. Ferguson and others that show that video game playing does not cause real-world violence and the fact that media consumption has increased while violent crime has decreased 15.5 percent, according to FBI statistics on crime. The letter closes by pointing out that the video games are protected speech (as established by the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. EMA) and that funding more studies or passing laws that will ultimately be challenged in state and federal courts is a waste of the taxpayers' money.
You can read the full letter below:
January 9, 2013
The Honorable Joseph Biden
Vice President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20501
Re: Policy Considerations post-Newtown, CT School Shooting
Dear Mr. Vice President,
In the wake of the Newtown, CT school shooting, I am writing to you on behalf of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) to weigh in on our members’ perspective regarding media consumption. We’re asking you to support the public’s constitutional right to access and buy games, and to not blame media, including video games, for the recent tragedy that has befallen our nation.
The ECA is the non-profit membership organization that represents consumers of interactive entertainment in the US and Canada. The association was founded to give gamers a collective voice with which to communicate their concerns, address their issues and focus their advocacy efforts. As such, the ECA is committed to a host of public policy efforts, and empowering and enabling the membership to effect change. Additionally, the organization provides members substantial affinity benefits, including discounts on games-related purchases and rentals, as well as community and educational initiatives. While all Americans have been impacted by the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary, our main office is also located in Wilton, CT, and thus we have been managing the trauma on a personal level with friends, neighbors and colleagues who have been directly impacted by the horrific event there. With the recent tragedy on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooter. Unfortunately some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content even more won’t solve the issue.
Studies show that media does not cause violence. Christopher J. Ferguson, Chair of Texas A&M International University's Department of Psychology & Communication, has shown through his work that there’s no link between violent video games and real world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression. Others’ work, including federally funded studies, all agree.
Media consumption has risen as the number of violent crimes has dropped. While video game sales have increased, violent crime has been steadily decreasing according to FBI statistics. In 2011, video game sales increased to over $27 billion dollars and violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, violent crime has decreased 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales. At the same time, federal courts - including the Supreme Court - have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional. Funding more studies - or passing laws that then get fought out in courts - costs taxpayers millions of dollars. It is in your power to guide this conversation and not blame entertainment media.
We would very much welcome the opportunity to meet with you, or your staff, to discuss these issues. I can be reached at 203-761-6191 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Vice President & General Counsel
[Full disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]