Joe Biden Sat Down With Gaming’s Leaders Today, And One Of Them Brought A Copy of Blastman III

Joe Biden Sat Down With Gaming’s Leaders Today, And One Of Them Brought A Copy of Blastman III

This afternoon, U.S. vice president Joe Biden met with video game representatives to talk about the Sandy Hook shooting. Here’s a picture of the meeting in action. Hopefully it went well.

Wondering who’s who? The AP’s caption:

Vice President Joe Biden, center, speaks during a meeting with representatives from the video game industry in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Biden is holding a series of meetings this week as part of the effort he is leading to develop policy proposals in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. From right to left are, Attorney General Eric Holder, Entertainment Software Association President Michael Gallagher, Biden, Electronic Arts Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Another shot:

Joe Biden Sat Down With Gaming’s Leaders Today, And One Of Them Brought A Copy of Blastman III

You can also make out Robert Altman, CEO of ZeniMax Media (the company that owns publisher Bethesda, among others) and ex-Epic Games president Mike Capps—both seated in front of Biden.

Joe Biden Sat Down With Gaming’s Leaders Today, And One Of Them Brought A Copy of Blastman III

One odd detail from this meeting: Pat Vance, head of the games rating board (the ESRB), seems to have brought a copy of Blastman III with her. What’s Blastman III? Either it’s the most obscure gaming gift ever presented to a Vice President or… we’re not sure. Maybe it’s a made-up game that the ESRB used for demonstration purposes. We’ve asked the ESRB to clarify.

Update: That’s exactly what it is. “Yes, ‘Blastman’ is a prop we created for the purpose of illustrating how rating information is displayed on game packages,” an ESRB spokesperson tells us.

And here’s Biden kicking off the meeting:

With members of the Cabinet and the gaming industry seated around him, the Vice President invited the press in, mostly to fill them in on his hopes for the meetings his post-Sandy Hook task force has been having. He said little about video games, instead referring to a range of issues, including interest in various checks on guns.

Gesturing to gaming industry leaders, the Attorney General and other Cabinet members, Biden did try to explain why he was meeting with entertainment executives and not just the National Rifle Association and mental health experts.

“We’re anxious to see if there’s anything you can suggest to us that you think would help, as this President said, diminish the possibility of … if we save even one kid’s life,” he said before hitting a tangent.

Later, he added, “There’s no measure that I’m aware of to be able to determine whether or not there’s a coarsening of our culture in a way that is not healthy. I don’t know the answer to that question. And I’m not sure what impact it would have or it wouldn’t have on the kind of events we’re looking at.”

Many fans of video games don’t believe that video games have a part of Biden’s talks. The science on whether video games can trigger aggression is mixed, and there have been no scientific studies that connect video games to violence. Whether games coarsen culture or not, gamers would doubt that games cause violence. Biden conceded that.

“We don’t even know whether some of things people think impact on this actually impact on this or not,” he said, turning to John Riccitiello, the head of EA. “And so I want you to know that you’ve not been, quote, singled out for help, but we’ve asked a whole lot of people.”


US parents blame violence on games as much as guns

Both believed to contribute to real-world violence by 75% of parents polled

US parents blame violence on games as much as guns

US parents are as likely to blame games for real-world violence as they are to blame guns, a new survey has found. Both were cited as factors contributing to violence by 75 percent of parents polled.

The survey, conducted last week and commissioned by parent watchdog outfit Common Sense Media and the political advocacy group Center for American Progress, polled a group of 1,050 parents with children under the age of 18 living at home. Common Sense Media has made violent games a cause in the past, and the Center for American Progress has advocated for a range of progressive causes, including stricter gun control measures.

The groups presented parents with a list of factors and asked them whether or not each contributes to violence in the US. Respondents had three choices for each factor: Does, Does Not, or Not Sure.

While the majority of parents believed games and guns to be contributing factors, they were not the most commonly cited problems. Those were a lack of supervision for children (93 percent) and bullying (92 percent). Followed those were actual real-life crime (86 percent) and violence on TV and in movies (77 percent). The only offered factor deemed less culpable than games and guns was violent toys, which 64 percent of parents said contributed to real-world violence.

The parents were also asked to rate on a scale of 1-10 how much they agreed with statements like, “Addressing violence in the United States will require taking action on violence in the media and keeping weapons away from our kids.” That question averaged an 8.3. When asked if the media industry has the power to curtail the culture of violence, the average response was an 8.4. However, when asked if the gun industry “has the power to help address this violence and should be part of the solution,” parents averaged a 7.9 response.

“These survey results demonstrate that parents are anxious about their children’s safety in America today and that they believe we need real action to prevent gun violence and change the culture of violence,” Center for American Progress president and CEO Neera Tanden said in a statement accompanying the survey’s release. “We need to do both; this is not a choice between two important goals.”



Biden meeting with game industry

White House says vice president will meet with reps of gun and game industries on policy changes to curb gun violence

Biden meeting with game industry

US Vice President Joe Biden will meet with representatives of the gaming industry this week to discuss ways to prevent tragedies like last month’s Newtown school shooting, a White House spokesman told Reuters.

Days after the shooting, the vice president was tasked by President Barack Obama with creating a variety of proposals to prevent gun violence and “pull together real reforms right now.” Biden is expected to suggest policy changes later this month, and is meeting with several groups this week as he puts those plans together.

In addition to the game industry, the vice president will be meeting with other entertainment industry representatives, the National Rifle Association, victims of gun violence, and other groups with interests in firearms. At least one of those groups, the NRA, has already made its stance publicly known.

In a press conference a week after the Newtown shooting, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre dismissed proposals for stricter gun laws, instead calling for an armed guard in every school. He also pointed to mental health and violent games as other areas legislators should look at, calling gaming “a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against own people.”

Guns and games aren’t the only things under scrutiny in this process. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will hold meetings tackling the issue from a mental health angle, while Education Secretary Arne Duncan will discuss the issue with parent and teacher groups.

Whatever Biden’s recommendations are, the president has directed Congress to vote on the resulting measures by the end of this year.



Newtown shooting reignites violent games debate

Lieberman, Axelrod and others raise questions about violent entertainment in wake of mass shootings

Newtown shooting reignites violent games debate

In the wake of Friday’s Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting, the big question for politicians, pundits, and the public is what can be done to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. The loudest, most frequent calls for change have come on the topics of gun control and mental health, but the influence of violent video games has also been brought into the conversation.

One of the longest-standing critics of media violence, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, discussed the shooting in an appearance on The Wall Street Journal’s The Markets Hub. After access to guns and proper mental health care, Lieberman brought up violent games as a third issue in need of addressing.

“We’ve got to again start the conversation about violence in the entertainment culture,” Lieberman said. “Obviously not everybody who plays a violent video game becomes a killer, but the social science is pretty clear here. Particularly for people who are vulnerable because they do have mental problems, the violence in our entertainment culture stimulates them to act out.”

Time political columnist Joe Klein raised his own concerns with violent entertainment in an appearance on ABC’s This Week.

“We not only have a Second Amendment in this country, we also have a First Amendment that protects Sylvester Stallone’s right to fire thousands of bullets in any given movie,” Klein said. “What we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned.”

David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, expressed his own misgivings on Twitter Monday night, saying, “In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot ’em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?”

It’s possible that the National Rifle Association, already on the defensive over gun control in the wake of the shootings, may try to shift some of the focus to violent media. Fox News today cites an “industry source” with news that the group’s scheduled Friday press conference will see it “push back” against those who look at gun control as a silver bullet solution to the problem.

“If we’re going to have a conversation, then let’s have a comprehensive conversation,” the source told Fox News. “If we’re going to talk about the Second Amendment, then let’s also talk about the First Amendment, and Hollywood, and the video games that teach young kids how to shoot heads.”

Outside of the gaming industry, the debate over violent games has been largely quiet since the US Supreme Court last year struck down a California law that would have prohibited the sale of violent or sexually explicit games to minors. Within the industry, it has continued unabated after an assortment of particularly violent trailers at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.



Grand Theft Auto sale kicks off on PSN today

GTA IV, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony discounted


Rockstar will launch a Grand Theft Auto sale on the European PlayStation Network today.

PlayStation Network Screenshot

Grand Theft Auto IV, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony will all be discounted when the PS Store updates later today, with the savings offered until December 5.


Here’s what’ll be on offer:

  • Grand Theft Auto IV (not available in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE), was €24.99/£19.99, now €12.99/£9.99, additional 10% discount for Plus subscribers
  • Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (not available in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE), was €19.99/£15.99, now €9.99/£9.99, additional 10% discount for Plus subscribers
  • Grand Theft Auto IV Complete Edition (not available in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE), was €34.99/£27.99, now €17.99/£13.99, additional 10% discount for Plus subscribers
  • Grand Theft Auto: Episodes Bundle (not available in Kuwait, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, UAE), was €19.99/£15.99, now €9.99/£7.99, additional 10% discount for Plus subscribers
  • Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned (not available in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE), was €9.99/£7.99, now €4.99/£3.99, additional 10% discount for Plus subscribers
  • Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony (not available in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE), was €17.99/£13.99, now €8.99/£7.29, additional 10% discount for Plus subscribers

Source: CVG