Believe it or not, some in Congress are looking to make video gaming the scapegoat for the horrendous crimes that have occurred in recent months. But what the folks in Washington don’t seem to realize is that video gamers aren’t all seated in front of a console mashing joysticks and buttons; they’re casual gamers picking up a few minutes on their smartphone while riding the subway, catching up on a role-playing game on their tablet while getting ready for dinner or yes, even playing solitaire on a PC before going to bed. But to hear the politicians, all of us gamers are just slaves to violent video games that are bending our minds to the “dark side.”
Good thing then that the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is there — a non-profit organization whose purpose is to represent video game players, which has never been more important than in the midst of this increasingly hostile controversy over “violent” video games. To gain a better perspective, we turn to the ECA’s Vice President & General Counsel, Jennifer Mercurio.
Man Cave Daily: What is the purpose of the ECA?
Jennifer Mercurio: The ECA is the non-profit membership organization that represents consumers of interactive entertainment in the US and Canada. The association was founded to give gamers a collective voice with which to communicate their concerns, address their issues and focus their advocacy efforts. As such, the organization is committed to a host of public policy efforts, empowering and enabling the membership to effect change. Additionally, the association provides members substantial affinity benefits including discounts on games-related purchases, rentals and subscription services, as well as community and educational initiatives.
Man Cave Daily: The ECA attended an event on Capitol Hill to discuss video games and recent legislation introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. How do you see the politicians viewing these measures?
Jennifer Mercurio: As with anything else, some are strongly for or against such legislation, and all are interested in learning more about the issues involved.
Generally, when they’re strongly against video games, their standpoint is visceral. They “know” there has to be a connection that is still to be found, even though research shows that no such connection truly exists.
Most of the US population routinely plays video games, and nearly half of those gamers are women. The average game player is 30 years old, and about a third of game players play on their phones. People are playing games everywhere, and on every platform.
Man Cave Daily: What are the actual facts that you are aware of which disprove the claims of video games encouraging violence?
Jennifer Mercurio: There is no causal link between video games and real life violence. The closest measurable attribute is not violence, it’s aggression. Yet study after study, including those conducted by the FBI and Secret Service, conclude that no connection exists. In fact, according to FBI statistics, while video games consumption has increasingly gone up in the US, violence has gone down. One could more accurately argue that video game play actually lowers violence levels in the US. Finally, the Supreme Court exhaustively reviewed all research in Brown v. EMA, where they ultimately found no link between the two.
Man Cave Daily: What actions are the ECA taking to counter this false impression?
Jennifer Mercurio: We speak out on behalf of gamers. We also empower gamers to speak out on their own behalf. We do trainings and educational programming around issues that concern the community.
We hope that all gamers take action in our Action Center to let their voices be heard.
Check out Marshal’s review of The Coolest Stuff from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show or his interview with PlanetSide 2‘s Matt Higby.