In the wake of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump hosted a meeting at the White House to discuss the subject of school safety. Among the subjects to come up was that of video games and movies, and the level of violence they contain–something he claimed is influencing the minds of minors. Trump even went so far as to suggest a ratings system could be necessary, despite the fact that such a thing already exists for both games and movies.
During the chat, Trump raised the issue of monitoring the sorts of things that young people look at online. From there, he moved on to the entertainment they consume, saying, “We have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games–I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
This isn’t the first time he’s pointed a finger at violent video games. Following the shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012, he tweeted, “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped–it is creating monsters!” Matt Bevin, the Republican governor of Kentucky, also pointed to video games in the wake of Parkland just recently.
Jump back to today, and Trump extended the blame to movies: “And then you go the further step and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved. But killing is involved and maybe they have to put a ratings system for that. You get into a whole very complicated, very big deal, but the fact is that you are having movies come out that are so violent with the killing and everything else that maybe that’s another thing we’re gonna have to discuss. And a lot of people are saying you have these movies today where you can go and have a child see a movie and yet it’s so violent and so disgusting, so we may have to talk.”
It’s unclear if Trump believes this ratings system is necessary for both movies and video games, or whether his suggestion is meant to replace or bolster those existing systems operated by the MPAA and ESRB. He also didn’t explain whether such a system would be operated by the government. Both the MPAA and ESRB are self-regulatory groups operated by their respective industries and were founded to avoid having the government control the ratings process.
There have been calls from legislators over the years to impose various restrictions on, for instance, the sale of violent video games to minors. In a landmark case back in 2011, the Supreme Court sided with the gaming industry in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, striking down a bill that would have fined retailers for each violent game sold to minors.
We’ve contacted the ESRB’s parent organization, the ESA, for comment about Trump’s statements and will report back with anything it has to say.