An Open Letter To The Gaming Community After JacksonvilleAugust 29, 2018
An open letter to the gaming community:
My heart filled with anger and frustration when news broke of another mass shooting in America, this one during a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. I scanned Twitter and Reddit for the latest developments and was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love from the Madden community and gamers worldwide. Video games open up a world of fantasy and escape for so many individuals and allow us to build online families that mean just as much as our real life families.
As you work to make sense of this tragedy, you must honor the memories of Eli Clayton and Taylor Robertson by ensuring that future generations never feel the pain and the unexplainable loss that their families and the entire gaming community is now struggling with.
Whether we admit it or not, gamers and game companies have been part of the gun debate for years. More than half of all Americans believe in a link between violent video games and gun violence, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Evidence that has found no correlation between increased video expendituresand real-world gun violence. Evidence that shows that even though 60 percent of the population in Japan plays video games, “almost no one is killed by a gun in the country, which bans possessing, carrying, selling, or buying handguns or rifles.” Evidence even finds that people serving time in prison for violent crimes “typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population.”
Gamers and gaming companies have a social responsibility to stand up for themselves and the 33,000 American lives lost every year to firearms. Not only would such a stand help build safer gun-free communities, it would also protect the industry from being scapegoated by voices intent on protecting gun industry profits.
I am writing to urge each of you to become change agents, to actively educate Americans on the research and the facts, and clearly articulate a simple fact: Games are not the problem. Guns are the problem.
The gaming industry has enormous economic clout and is projected to surpass $90 billion in revenues by 2020. That means that what you say, where you hold your events, and who the industry donates money to, has a powerful and lasting political impact.
You must stand up to the lies of the gun lobby. The NRA and their allies have huge financial power, but nothing compared to the power and clout of the gaming world. Here’s one place to start: uniting behind a push to unlock the ability of scientists to receive government funds with which to conduct objective, nonpartisan research on gun violence. For years the gun lobby has blocked this kind of research.
This kind of advocacy constitutes a change for many gamers and the industry, and change is hard. But I leave you with this thought: If Esports aren’t going to take on the lies about you, your community, and your games that gun manufacturers hide behind, who will?
Executive Director, Guns Down America