Take-Two's Zelnick says it's "disrespectful" to blame entertainment for US gun violence

Take-Two's Zelnick says it's "disrespectful" to blame entertainment for US gun violence

The CEO of American publishing giant Take-Two Strauss Zelnick has said it is "disrespectful" to say that entertainment - namely video games - are a cause for gun violence in the United States.

Speaking to Mad Money's Jim Cramer, the veteran media exec said that the mass shootings in America are a "terrible" and "senseless tragedy," but said that the country needs to address the real issues behind this disturbing trend.

Zelnick didn't specify where he feels the blame really lies, but it's safe to assume he's referring to increasing gun control.

"This is a terrible tragedy; a senseless tragedy," he said.

"It's fun to talk about entertainment, but lives were lost. The truth is it's disrespectful to the victims and the families to point the finger at entertainment. Entertainment is part of peoples' daily joy and it's consumed worldwide and it's the same worldwide. Gun violence is uniquely American. That has to change and it can only change if we address the real issues."

Asked whether entertainment was found to have a link with gun violence, Zelnick said he wouldn't want to be involved with it: "In the same way that I wouldn't choose to market substances that cause people to get sick."

This follows US President Donald Trump blaming a violent culture - of which he sees video games as being part of - for the alarmingly regular mass shootings in America. Both the International Game Developers Association and its Foundation arm said there were no links between games and gun violence, a sentiment echoed by US trade body The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) which itself was on the same lines as what Zelnick told Mad Money. 

In February 2018, Trump also laid the blame for gun violence at the games industry's door following a Florida school shooting. Reps from the ESA and top publishers met with Trump to discuss the issue, with nothing really coming out of the meeting.

There have been 266 mass shootings in the US in 2019 so far; 14 of those have taken place since the incidents that Trump was referring to in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas

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.