Electronic Arts has responded to the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, last month that left 20 children and six adults dead. CEO John Riccitiello said last night in a postearnings financial call that EA was "horrified" by the violence, but noted no link between games and real-world violence has ever been established.
"There's no doubt, we like you, were stunned and horrified by the violence in Connecticut or Colorado or many other places over the years," Riccitiello said. "But there has been an enormous amount of research done in the entertainment field about looking for linkages between entertainment content and actual violence, and they haven't found any."
"And I could give you long stories about how people in Denmark or the UK or Ireland or Canada consume as much or more violent games and violent media as they do in the United States, and yet they have an infinitely smaller incidence of gun violence. But that's not really the point. The point is that direct studies have been done, hundreds of millions of dollars of research have been done, has been unable to find a linkage because there isn't one."
Despite a lack of science-based evidence linking entertainment to violence, Riccitiello admitted that there exists a "perception problem" with games, and this is something to deal with.
"We are responsible, we are mature, and we intend to be part of the solution."
"We understand that while there may not be an actual problem, given all the finger-pointing going on in the press, there appears to be the perception of a problem, and we do have to wrestle with that," he said.
Riccitiello added that the game industry is up to the challenge of fixing whatever perception problem may exist and that companies like EA can actually be part of the solution.
"Ours is an industry with an association that has risen to that call many times before and will as we move forward," he said. "We are responsible, we are mature, and we intend to be part of the solution. Our media reaches literally every American, and that can be used as a voice for good."
"So a quick summary. We are horrified, like you. It's not about games. There is a perception issue. We can be part of that solution, and we are ready to step up to do that."
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, the gaming industry has taken heat from politicians and other groups. Just yesterday, United States senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) said video games are a "bigger problem than guns" because they "affect people."
Last week, democratic Connecticut senator Chris Murphy said the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting may not have happened if video games did not give the shooter a "false sense of courage."
Previously, republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie said violent games must be examined in the wake of the shooting. Before that, and just a week after the December 14 shooting, the National Rifle Association condemned violent games, saying they were partially to blame for the mass shooting.