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John Riccitiello said he was hoping he wouldn’t get a question today on video game violence and the Newtown, Conn., shooting. But an analyst asked it, and the chief executive of Electronic Arts responded with some frank and passionate comments.
“We were stunned and horrified by the violence in Connecticut and Colorado and many other places over the years,” Riccitiello said during EA’s earnings conference call. “But there has been an enormous amount of research done in the entertainment field” where researchers are looking for a link between video game violence and violence in real life.
“They haven’t found any,” he said.
Still, in the wake of these mass shootings, politicians such as Vice President Joe Biden have said that the federal government’s research agencies should investigate a possible link. Riccitiello said he did not see any slowdown in the market as a result of the new concerns about game violence in the wake of Newtown.
Riccitiello pointed out that people in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada consume as much or more violent video games or violent media than in the U.S., but they have much smaller violent crime rates. He said “hundreds of studies have been done” and no links have been uncovered — a fact that he said swayed the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling that favored the game industry. The court ruled that banning the sale of violent video games to minors was an infringement of free speech.
“Having said all of that, with humility about the world we live in, given fingerpointing in the media, you could say we have a perception of a problem, and we do have to wrestle with that,” Riccitiello said. “We are a responsible, mature industry, and we intend to be part of the solution. Our media reaches every American. That can be used as a voice for good.”
He said that the game industry’s lobbying group, the Entertainment Software Association, will further address how games can be part of the solution, “not the butt of the joke.”