The United Nations is criticizing gaming, and the Entertainment Software Association (a trade association for the gaming industry and its main lobbying group that puts on the yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo) isn’t pleased. The U.N. provided GamesBeat with a response to the ESA’s criticism, noting how it really wasn’t targeting gaming in the first place.
These kind of politics become more and more relevant in today’s gaming landscape. The fact that the U.N. is now involved shows you how serious it is. However, the ESA is calling the U.N. report — titled “Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls” — hyperbolic, outlandish, and outdated.
“The report cites an opinion article written in 2000, which is rife with antiquated views from noted and debunked anti-video game figures,” the ESA notes in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “In quoting Lyndon LaRouche and his wife, Helga Zepp LaRouche, the U.N.’s source material cites Zepp LaRouche’s work, ‘The Mark of the Beast: America’s Children Are in Mortal Danger,’ in which she mistakenly reports that children as young as 2 abuse digital entertainment. Medical professionals specifically have declined repeatedly to pathologize video game use.”
“This is an uninformed, misguided and unfortunate report,” Michael D. Gallagher, president and chief executive officer of ESA, notes in the press release. “If the overall issue was not so serious, it would be laughable that the U.N. is citing this work. It is willful ignorance to utilize such incredibly outlandish and outdated data. ESA strongly supports empowering women and minorities and creating an inclusive digital environment that welcomes all perspectives. However, the U.N. does this important issue a great disservice and undercuts its credibility by spreading ridiculous stereotypes and false opinions.”
Sarah Parks, chief of media and public information for the International Telecommunications Division of the U.N., gave GamesBeat a response.
“Regarding the gaming issue, which was by the way only mentioned explicitly very, very briefly in this report, we have received a helpful amount of constructive feedback from academia regarding the lack of proven link between violence in games translating into increased violent behavior in the physical world, and this research will certainly be reflected in the new version of the report,” Parks told GamesBeat. “However, it is also important to note that society as a whole still lacks the longitudinal reach to properly evaluate the possible effects of exposure of very young children to ultra-realistic, ultra-violence images — and this goes well beyond gaming. The ESA press release would indicate that the report really targeted gaming — in fact, it barely dealt with it.
“For us, the problem we had was really to do with the poor footnoting, for which we can only apologize — we relied too heavily on the accuracy of the submitted draft, and did not subject the references to the in-depth scrutiny they clearly required,” Parks continued. “For this the editorial team of UNDP/UN Women and ITU must take responsibility and we are working as fast as we can to ensure these are all 100 percent correct before we re-post. We expect the Executive Summary to go back up tomorrow [this response originally came to GamesBeat on October 8], and the full report in about two weeks.”
The U.N. report, which it released on September 24, states that almost 75 percent of women online suffer some form of cyberviolence. You can find the full document here.