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Feature Article

Here's What The CEO Of GTA 5's Parent Company Had To Say About Meeting With Trump (Not Much)

It was "interesting," Strauss Zelnick said.

In March, representatives from the video game industry met with President Trump to discuss video games in the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. One of the attendees was Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive. Now, Zelnick is speaking about that meeting for what appears to be the first time--but he isn't saying much. Speaking to Mad Money's Jim Cramer this week, Zelnick was asked directly how the meeting went. "It was interesting," Zelnick said, leaning forward in his chair and appearing to chuckle in a somewhat awkward exchange with the fast-talking Cramer. Pressed for more details, Zelnick gave a diplomatic response.

"I haven't talked a lot about it publicly. The truth is, when you're asked to show up and have a conversation on a serious topic, you show up," he said. "Our position is plain."

Zelnick went on to say that it's not true that Trump was picking on video games during the meeting. "Not at all," Zelnick said when Cramer said video games were not being singled out during the meeting. As we reported previously, Trump also discussed violence in film during the meeting.

Take-Two is a member of the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the video game industry's interests in Washington. The group attended the meeting with Trump and, while we don't know exactly what was said, it is likely the ESA pointed to studies that have shown there is no link between violent video games and violent behavior.

In addition to Zelnick, Trump's brother Robert Trump--who is a member of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax's board of directors--also attended the meeting. A number of lawmakers also were there, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Trump has suggested that violent video games are a problem in the past, tweeting that they are "creating monsters" back in 2012. After the shooting in Parkland, he referenced how he's been told "the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people's thoughts." He went on to suggest that a movie and or video games rating board is needed, despite the fact that those already exist in the US in the form of the MPAA and ESRB.

More broadly, lawmakers have taken issue with violent video games for more than 25 years. An uproar around the violence in games like Mortal Kombat is what led to the founding of the ESRB, which is a self-regulatory body. After the Sandy Hook school shooting, then-Vice President Joe Biden also met with the games industry to discuss violence, though that ultimately had little impact in terms of legislation. Most notably, a 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court struck down a bill that would have blocked the sale of violent video games to minors.

Studies have yet to connect the motives of shooters with a connection to violent video games. In fact, there's research that suggests school shooters may be less interested in violent games than other people. The ESA has frequently cited the fact that games are played internationally as further evidence that they are not to blame: "Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation," it said recently. A recent Washington Post story further suggests this is a US-centric problem.

For more on Trump's White House meeting about video games, check out GameSpot's full report here.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email


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GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for seven7swords

I love how people who don't play video games think they can pinpoint all the negative things video games cause. You can go your whole life and never see a violent movie or play a violent video game and still commit a mass murder.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

I can understand why the topic of movie and game violence needs to be discussed. There is no way all of these things can be good for you to see and hear, regardless of age. Things that are considered normal and widely acceptable nowadays would have never been allowed in any way, shape, or form during the years our parents grew up and even more recently than that. I think the real issue is people's mental health driving them to do unspeakable things more so than the items themselves, i.e. guns, being blamed for the terrible tragedies. However, a large part your brain and your mental understanding of things starts at a very young age and there is no way you can sit here and tell me that playing Grand Theft Auto would be better for your child than watching a funny cartoon or playing an innocent game like Mario Kart like a normal kid. So ultimately, do I think video games make people violent and do terrible things? Maybe or maybe not, but they certainly can't be helping. I mostly blame the parents though. A kid cannot buy these games themselves. That means the parents are knowingly buying these adult rated games for their children. Letting a kid have access to something like GTA at such a young age is disgusting on their part.

Avatar image for Salt_AU

@jayskoon93: I played Adventure on the Atari 2600 as a kid. A game about finding a key to unlock some doors to slay a dragon that looked like a duck with a sword that looked an arrow. A completely different era to games now. Games and movies are a convenient excuse for weak, spineless lawmakers.

The problem is US gun laws, the NRA and a ridiculous second amendment that ironically seriously needs amending, it was adopted in 1790 fucking one. For a country that has many incredibly intelligent and talented people, its crazy that stronger gun laws haven't been introduced in a country that has suffered so much and will continue to suffer until they do. Maybe its too late.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

@Salt_AU: The way I look at gun laws is that they're not the problem. I am fully licensed and conceal carry a .45 every day. These sick people who are gonna do these horrible things are going to find access to guns or worse regardless of the laws. All taking guns away from the civilians would do is disarm us and give us less of a chance to defend ourselves from these crazy people if the need were to arise. Criminals and terrorists aren't worried about the law. If they want to make something happen bad enough, they will break the law like it's not even a thing and travel down the most unconventional routes to get what they need at any cost. Now, do I think they are a bit too easy to attain legally? A bit, yeah and that could be tightened up a bit, I agree, but are they the problem? No. The people are the problem.

Avatar image for tr4newreck

@jayskoon93: absolutely ridiculous, there is less violence now, than there was in your parents time.... the world as a whole is becoming more tolerant and less violent, by every conceivable metric.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

@tr4newreck: I see lower tolerance of normality and morality and much more violence. Not sure what kind of fairy land you live in pal. This world is a scary place.

Avatar image for seven7swords

@jayskoon93: The world has always been a "scary" place since the dawn of time. Do you think Hitler played violent video games? Do you think Genghis Khan watched violent movies? Here's a more realistic question; do you think Stalin read violent books? It is very conceivable that the world has become less violent, just purely on the virtue of people becoming more limited in their freedoms. This isn't medieval Europe where we fight wars over love or the Wild West America where we have gentleman duals at high noon. There are far more laws now, far more restrictions, and far more surveillance stopping violence. The world will never be without conflict because conflict is not only a part of human nature, but nature in general.

But despite what fear mongering the NRA pushes to sell guns, the world has definitely become more safe though its history.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

@seven7swords: Regardless of what is said, I personally feel less and less safe as the years go forward. There are many things that cause concern for me nowadays that would have never even been a thought in my earlier days. Then you have all of these things happening 24/7 like frequent school shootings, wars all over the world, the advancements in chemical weaponry, the drugs and cartel, the religious revenge crowd bombings at innocent concerts, clubs, and gatherings all across the world amongst many other factors to me prove that the world has not become safer. It's just dangerous in different ways. And when it comes to tolerance, we may be more so, BUT I do not think tolerance has risen in the correct ways. We tolerate thin skinned individuals. And all of these people claiming they want equality is a joke because in all actuality, they're fighting for superiority. They want to be better. They want to be recognized first. Racism is a huge form of violence that is still very much alive and will never die because no one will allow it to. I feel, at times, people want it, like Kendrick Lamar's recent stunt with that white fan on stage. He knew what he was doing. Instigating. That was a sorry thing to do. People claim they hate racism so much, and then pull shit like that. Makes no sense. I think the entertainment world, including videogames, is a lot at fault for how today's society and younger generation is. These kids are idolizing unrealistic things and people. They are numb to violence, blood, gore, bad language, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc, etc. All of that is okay now. Seeing kids cuss in front of their parents or to their parents is no big deal now. Full nude sex scene in a movie, no big deal, but it should be. Kids think drugs are cool and they always have, but getting fxxxxd up on trendy poisons is what makes you cool now and all of the most popular music glorifies it. You aren't somebody unless you're a millionaire in a mansion with women crawling all over you while wearing a $50k watch and diamonds and chains while smoking dope and drinking lean. It's sad, but kids nowadays are so soft and so moldable because it's okay to be a wimp now that these bizarrely somehow influential people are actually being influential and teaching these young kids that they deserve everything without having to lift a finger. Instant gratification. I'm gonna end here before I type my fingers off, but to sum everything up, is there less violence? No, just different threats. Are we more tolerant? In all of the wrong ways. Do I feel safer than I did years ago? No, I do not.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien

It really has more to do with the fact of mental health issues. But let's blame everything else.

Avatar image for youre_a_sheep

Violent criminals are overwhelmingly raised by single mothers. It sure would be nice if anyone in power cared about that stark reality rather than pandering to the culprits.

Avatar image for kgsg-19-2

""It was interesting," Zelnick said"

> I really meant to say he was an idiot, I just don't want to publicly say it lol.

Unsurprisingly, Dump and the gop isn't even coming close to the solution. Violent VG's and movies have been proven for years to not be a cause of this. How about putting money into education, social services, better gun control solutions, etc, etc. Until trump and the gop aren't beholden to the nra anymore, we're f**cked.

Avatar image for edwardnygma

@kgsg-19-2: So we have a better economy, lower unemployment, high stock market, getting rid of the trade deficit, etc due to finally having a real President and THIS is what you are focused on? You notice how liberals are focused on issues that don't actually help our economy? No wonder Obama doubled our national debt...……….

Avatar image for ChiefReaver


Due to finally having a real president? You fool, all of those metrics have been decreasing steadily for almost a decade now. Get real.

Avatar image for edwardnygma

@ChiefReaver: Uh no actually they haven’t. Do you read analytics or CNN/Dr Seuss? Never mind I am sure I know the answer.

Avatar image for Blazen702

99.9% of the idiot morons here are not qualified to speak on this subject. Should just disable the comments instead of feeding the sheep

Avatar image for Shadowscreem

Calm down soy boys, there's nothing wrong with talking. I hope they had some discussion on the affects of prescribed SSRI's and amphetamines and video games/media. 98% of mass shooters since the late 70s have been on these drugs.

FYI...the military created the first 'video games' for training purposes. The idea that video games might contribute to desensitization of violence is perfectly logical, seeing as that was a component of their own original creation.

Avatar image for consolehaven

Why is it so hard to understand that the basic, fundamental problem underscoring gun violence is guns?

Avatar image for southsouthsac

He should have punched Trump in the face. Eddie would have if he got to do the interview!

Avatar image for Blazen702

@southsouthsac: wow you’re a F’n moron

Avatar image for zigger21

Blaming Gaming is bullshit and I have a Glock 21 hand gun and my son is scared to death of it when I take it out to clean it after I Go to the gun range. He has been playing Halo 1-5 and GTA III - V. Its the parents who let their children have access and know how to handle weapons. Dump, I mean Trump needs to worry about homeless and the disabled being able to live like they did before they were injured. the same wages!

Avatar image for bot101101

@Shadowscreem: "You're a failure of a parent and should probably remove that glock from your home, seeing as you haven't even properly trained your own kid to use it."

And you wonder why the rest of the world is baffled with your idiotic

Avatar image for deadpeasant

Trump and zelnick are two people who im sure would get on very well together. Slime.

Avatar image for Blazen702

@deadpeasant: moron much?

Avatar image for nikolistary

The main takeaway is this:

If you buy Bethesda games, you're a Trump supporter.

Avatar image for Shadowscreem

@nikolistary: 20 million copies of Skyrim sold (as of 2014). Throw in around 50 million more that have bought the Special Edition and VR edition. Add in roughly 75 million more for Bethesda's other franchises. Roughly around 150 million? Yea, sounds about right.

Keep America Great!

Avatar image for kgsg-19-2

@Shadowscreem: uhmmm..... Hate to waste my time on you but had to put this out here to call you out on your stupidity so everyone sees it.

So, ~139m people voted in this past election. So, no, ~150m doesn't quite sound about right lol. That's ~11m unaccounted for votes. Are you a secret insider who's knowledgeable of the deep state's fake votes or something?? Please inform us.......

I really hope NF does a doc on the utter stupidity and mental gymnastics these people do some day.

Avatar image for khanwashere

Nothing but redirection to keep the NRA happy. Plus, games need more clowns anyways.

Avatar image for Shadowscreem

@khanwashere: 2nd Amendment existed prior to the NRA. Funny how history works.

Avatar image for Jinzo_111887

@khanwashere: Thing is, if they banned guns, they'd just use something else like baseball bats, crowbars, makeshift flamethrowers, knives, cars, pillows, plastic bags, or rope. At the same time, violent media don't cause the violence. There are lots of people who play violent video games and watch movies and TV shows that don't go berserk. It's best to look into the mental state of people instead trying to ban Jerry Springer from Television.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum

@Jinzo_111887: Gun and car are the only things off that list you can kill more than 1 person (ok well 2 if someone's good with the knife) with. Ideas with car can usually be avoided by barriers and trees and lightposts and such.

Sure there are fights between people in which someone is killed by slamming their head to something or pushing down a balcony, but those are far cry from the 10-100 people near-random massacres. Or the countless cases where there's a feud, and where in some other country they'd settle it by punching each other until hospital condition, in countries like U.S. it's terribly easy to just grab the gun and go with the easy way. Some shoot someone over a debt of like 100 dollars for christ's sake.

It would be great, if everyone lived in a happytimefunland, but reality is that there are always challenged people, people who are going through a tough period and people who haven't been taught anything.

Saying that free reign on guns and media is fine, all we need is perfect mental health is pretty utopistic.

Avatar image for ghack

@Jinzo_111887: On average, I'm sure a person would be able to harm/kill fewer people with all of the things you listed than any type of gun.

Avatar image for edwardnygma

@ghack: Uh I am pretty sure you can do worse damage with a car quite honestly.

Avatar image for Shadowscreem

@ghack: Sounds like you should enlist in the Army and head overseas for a bit. See how many people get killed with things other than guns...

Avatar image for lionheartssj1

Conversation is good.

Avatar image for videogameninja

Strauss Zelnick: “Hello Mr. President. You requested I be here?”

Trump: “Yes. So I’ve seen you’re work and actually had a chance to look at it in depth myself.”

Straus: “….” (looks worried.)

Trump: “I want in!”


Avatar image for deactivated-5b2072723fac3

@videogameninja: Your*



Avatar image for kaminobenimizu

@kstaggs3: It's time you go back to Alphabet Hell, Grammar Nazi bastard!

*Loads gun in an overly manly manner*

Avatar image for videogameninja

@kstaggs3: Trump said it so I stand by what I wrote.



Avatar image for deactivated-5cf9b97def93e

@videogameninja: lol! Nice one hehe

Avatar image for RogerioFM

@kstaggs3: lol


Avatar image for rmokeefe76

Properly baited.

Avatar image for Cikatriz_ESP

His Adam's apple is weirdly huge.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

@Cikatriz_ESP: Some say the bigger the apple, the bigger the balls. For the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Avatar image for BrokenNoah

The title saved me a few minutes of reading. Thanks GS!

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