Nothing really happened at that Trump video game violence meeting

Nothing really happened at that Trump video game violence meeting

It's fair to say that many of us in the games industry were anticipating that we'd have a lot to think about following yesterday's meeting between American president Donald Trump and members of the games industry.

The reality? What was penned to be a debate on the subject of video game violence appeared in fact to be more of a fact finding mission by the White House.

The meeting reportedly opened with a compilation of footage from violent video games, including the notorious No Russian mission from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in addition to Wolfenstein: The New Order, Dead by Daylight, Fallout 4 and Sniper Elite 4. Said footage is embedded below, having been uploaded to the White House YouTube account, but left unlisted.

"This is violent, isn't it?" Trump asked those in attendance, including The ESA's Michael Gallagher, Take-Two chief Strauss Zelnick and Robert Altman from ZeniMax Media.

Of course, said footage was presented without any context. Yes, the games depicted are violent, but they don't exist in a vacuum.

Despite the fact that those at the table leaned heavily in the direction of the right end of the political spectrum with many experts not known for their video games specialism, word leaving the meeting seems to be that Trump and co are looking to see what to do about games moving forward.

No members of the press were allowed in the meeting, but Kotaku spoke with the Parents Television Council afterwards.

"The tone in the meeting was information-gathering, "program director Melissa Henson said.

"It was a fact-finding meeting."

In a statement, the ESA said: "We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry's rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices."

"We appreciate the President's receptive and comprehensive approach to this discussion."

Meanwhile, the White House put out a statement about the meeting, erroneously saying that there have been links tying gun violence with graphic content in video games - no such studies exist.

"The President acknowledged some studies have indicated there is a correlation between video game violence and real violence," the White House said.

"The conversation centered on whether violent video games, including games that graphically simulate killing, desensitize our community to violence.”

However, the Washington Post reports that Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Council, has said that he thinks that video games need "tougher regulation", going on to say they need "to be given the same kind of thought as tobacco and liquor."

Or America could, you know, get to the root of the problem. But that'd be much too difficult now, wouldn't it?

Photo credit: Evan El-Amin /

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.