President Trump will meet with representatives from the video game industry and members of Congress tomorrow, March 8, to discuss video games in the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. Speaking today during the White House Press Briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump is looking forward to the event as part of an effort to help keep schools safe.
“The president wants to continue the conversation on every different area that we can to help promote school safety,” she said. “I’m not going to get ahead of the discussion that they’re going to have tomorrow but we think it is an important discussion to have and one that the President looks forward to.”
Pressed about whether or not Trump believes video games are too violent, Sanders said she , “It certainly is something that should be looked at and something that we want to have the conversation about.” The video game segment starts at around 12:25 in the video above.
The ESA, which lobbies for video games and organizes E3 every year, is attending the meeting with Trump at the White House. The organization is one of the biggest and most powerful gaming groups in America, and its members include companies like Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, and others. According to Kotaku’s sources, the meeting has “remained unorganized” since it was announced last week. When Sanders first announced that Trump would meet with people from the video game industry, the ESA said it had not received an invite. But earlier this week, the ESA confirmed that it will attend the meeting to discuss video games, the industry’s established ratings systems, and other pertinent information. The ESA is expected to defend video games and point out that studies have shown there is no link between violent video games and violent behavior.
Trump’s bother, Robert Trump, sits on the board of directors at Zenimax, which owns Fallout and Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda. Leslie Moonves, the president of GameSpot parent company CBS, is also a member of Zenimax’s board of directors. According to Kotaku, Robert Trump will attend the White House meeting. The Washington Post reported today that ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman will also attend the meeting, as will Take-Two president Strauss Zelnick. Michael Gallagher, the CEO of the ESA, will also reportedly attend. On the other side, Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) will be there, the Post reported. Following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, both urged the government to look at violent media instead of gun restrictions alone.
Additionally, Trump invited Martha Roby (R-AL) to the meeting on Thursday. The Post added that Trump also asked Republican Senator Marco Rubio to come, but he couldn’t make it due to a scheduling conflict. It is unclear if Trump invited any Democrats to the meeting.
“As we continue to work towards creating school safety programs that protect all children, the president will be meeting with video game industry leaders and Members of Congress to discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children,” a White House spokesperson told The Washington Post. “This meeting will be the first of many with industry leaders to discuss this important issue.”
Trump is the not first US President to question whether or not video games have a role to play in the development of young minds. In 2013, following the Sandy Hook shooting, Barack Obama called on Congress to fund research on the relationship between video games and violent behavior.
There is no word yet about if the meeting will be televised, if reporters will be able to sit in, or if the White House will share the notes from the meeting. The meeting will take place in the Roosevelt Room, starting at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET. We will report back with more details as they become available.
After the Parkland shooting, Trump hosted a meeting at the White House to discuss school safety, and among the subjects that came up were the level of violence in video games and movies. In his White House meeting in February, Trump said he has heard from “more and more people” that “the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
This won’t be the first time the ESA has attended a meeting at the White House regarding video games. Following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, then-Vice President Joe Biden met with members of the video game industry executives such as then-EA CEO John Riccitiello to discuss the link between violent video games and gun violence as part of a wider task force into gun control measures. Gallagher, the ESA president, was also at this meeting.