Connecticut's Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkey has published a letter calling on the games industry to stop making license deals with real-world weapons brands.
The use of real-world weapons in video games got a good deal of attention after the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary Connecticut, thanks in part to a Eurogamer article about the relationship between game publishers and arms manufacturers.
Now the issue has been taken up by Speaker Sharkey, whose letter – addressed to Bobby Kotick (CEO, Activision), Gabe Newell (Valve), Strauss Zelnick (CEO, Take Two), and Michael Gallagher (President and CEO, ESA) – indirectly references the article.
Speaker Sharkey mentions attempts by the NRA to place the blame for shootings like Sandy Hook on the shoulders of the entertainment industry, and acknowledges the research that shows no link between exposure to violent games and real-world violence.
“However, recent reports have revealed connections between your industry and the gun industry, which so often attacks you following mass murders carried out with its products,” reads the letter.
“The industry practice of video game publisher entering into licensing, marketing, or other financial arrangements to feature real guns in their games blurs the lines between fiction and reality in ways that can have tragic consequences.”
The letter points out that the weapon used at Sandy Hook was made by Bushmaster – a company that markets rifles appearing in Call of Duty.
EA already decided to stop making license deals with gun makers this year, a gesture Speaker Sharkey pointed to as hope for a new “industry standard”.
“We have to take steps to institute meaningful change in the way we portray, and effectively market assault weapons to children and young adults,” the letter continues.
“Games designed to recreate the experience of wartime carnage and criminal violence constitute protected speech under the provisions of the First Amendment. But there is little to be said in defense of an industry-wide practice of arranging licensing deals with gun manufacturers for the rights to use the make, model, and visual design specifications of their real-life weapons.”
Speaker Sharkey closed with what comes off both as a plea and a pledge of support to game makers that take up his call to lay down arms licensing, asking game makers to end their “nefarious relationship” with gun makers.
“Prominent leaders in Washington and across the country have voiced support for this type of reform, and are willing to stand with you, as I do,” wrote Speaker Sharkey.
“Our communities, our country, and our children are counting on your leadership on this important issue.”