On August 3 and 4, 2019, the United States experienced two more mass shootings - one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio. In the aftermath of the shootings, politicians have offered their opinions on why these mass shootings keep taking place. President Donald Trump pointed the finger at video games, calling video games "gruesome and grisly." The president's comments have had an immediate impact on the industry, as video game company stock prices have dropped across the board.
As reported by Wall Street Journal reporter Sarah E. Needleman, Activision Blizzard has fallen 6.6%, whereas Take-Two Interactive has fallen by 5.9%. EA has fallen 4.5%. Besides video game publishers themselves, Trump's comments have also impacted video game retailers, with GameStop's already low stock price falling even further today.
It remains to be seen how the video game industry will counter Trump's claims. The Entertainment Software Association has pushed back against the narrative that video games are linked to gun violence in the past, and it's likely to do the same in this situation. Trump's comments insinuated that there may be regulation on the video game industry and its depictions of violence in the future, which would definitely prompt the ESA to act.
Concrete details on how video game violence regulation would look remains to be seen. We know that Trump met with top video game executives last year, and that the president was even shown a highlight reel of video game violence, but nothing ever really came of those meetings.
Critics of Trump's anti-video game comments point to the manifesto of the El Paso shooter, who expressed admiration for Trump's policies and revealed himself to be a believer in white supremacist conspiracy theories. Racism may have also been a motivating factor in the Dayton shooting as well, as six of the victims in that shooting were black, including the gunman's sister's boyfriend.
It's possible that the ESA will point this out when defending the video game industry against Trump's accusations. However, with similar comments coming from other politicians, including Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, it seems as though the ESA and the gaming industry at large will have an uphill battle ahead of it.