It’s hard to feel too much sympathy for Electronic Arts, the video game giant that displays no fewer than 14 corporate logos of real-life gun makers on the partner page of its bestselling game Medal of Honor. But at least today the links to gun stores are gone.
For anyone who has followed movie and game censorship issues, this kind of nimble response to complaints (first reported in national media two days ago) typifies an entertainment industry that always has been able to move much quicker than any legislative body. From the Hollywood movie Production Code of the 1930s to the ESRB game ratings of the 1990s, the industry has always been able to keep one step ahead of policy-makers by taking just enough action to forestall any legal intervention. The result has been an entertainment-industrial-complex that pretty much produces exactly what it wants.
Partly the problem has been that no one has ever proven a link between games and violence, besides vague insinuations that a culture of desensitization or callousness results from such fare. The lack of empirical data has made it easy for producers and merchandizers to then toss in free speech arguments to neutralize control efforts, as happened with the 2011 Supreme Court case overturning a California Law punishing stores who sold adult games to minors.
A special panel led by US vice president Joe Biden is currently examining potential ways to curb gun violence in the country. Among proposals under consideration is a study into any possible links between children’s exposure to video games and violence.