IGDA urges Biden not to censor games

Letter from game developer group to US VP Joe Biden says censoring games could prove disastrous, violent games can be part of the solution.


The International Game Developers Association today issued a statement to US Vice President Joe Biden urging him to steer clear of any action that could result in the censorship of video games. Biden will meet with leaders of the game industry this month in Washington, D.C. to discuss the role of violent games as part of a wider task force looking into the role of violent media in mass shootings.

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Chairman of the IDGA's Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee Daniel Greenberg urged Biden to remember the US Government's widespread censorship of violent comic books in the 1950s. He said censoring these materials did not reduce juvenile delinquency or increase literacy, but rather it "decimated" the production of such reading materials.

The same situation might occur if Biden and his advisers decide to censor violent games, Greenberg said.

"Censoring video games could have similar unintended consequences that we cannot currently foresee," Greenberg said. "Ironically, comic books are now used as part of the solution to illiteracy, even by the government. It may seem counter-intuitive, but video games, even violent video games, could be part of the solution here, as well."

Elsewhere in his note to Biden, Greenberg said the IGDA welcomes additional evidence-based research into the effects of violent games on children. This is because he believes it will only add to the existing literature stating there is no causal link between virtual violent and real-world violence.

Greenberg further implored Biden to research the benefits of violent video games, noting some studies have shown exposure to violent gameplay helps release stress and aggression before it can lead to real-world violence.

"The IGDA supports good research and we ask for more science, not less," Greenberg said.

Greenberg also noted that games, including violent games, have evolved to a point such that they now feature "richer, deeper" meanings than ever before. Greenberg pointed out that some contemporary violent games have non-violent options and solutions, which are based on problem solving and player creativity. Other games, he said, offer rewards for mercy and compassion, while still others feature interactive storylines that enable players to experiences the consequences of their actions.

"The government can help this process by supporting this unique, cutting-edge research into harnessing the power of video games to help solve our nation’s problem with violence," he said. "Our hearts go out to the victims and survivors of mass shootings. We support your efforts to reduce real-world violence. But we would not want to see those efforts diverted toward non-causal sources and away from meaningful change to real dangers."

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