Video games and violence: EA’s virtual world clashes with real marketing headache

Last week we talked about how shares of video game makers such as Electronic Arts were falling after the subject of violence and video games came up again in the wake of the mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn. (See New life for video-game violence debate. Shares of the companies are still down this week.)

Any link between violent video games and real-life violence is debatable, but there were actually marketing links — to weapons manufacturers — which EA has now removed. For example, the “Medal of Honor Warfighter” game has a Web page that lists the brands EA is “proud to partner with.” They include makers of guns, knives and tactical gear, and visitors of the page could click through to those companies’ websites until this week.

“We felt it was inappropriate and took the links down,” a spokesman for the Redwood City company told the New York Times.

Last week, the National Rifle Association called a bizarre press conference and among other things pointed a finger at video games as a cause of violence. (Despite having a violent video game of its own, by the way.) But as Rebecca Rosen writes for the Atlantic: “It’s hard to consider those two sides of opposite evils when they are in bed together.”

Meanwhile, can social media and other online tools make a difference in the gun-control debate? Those who advocate for stricter U.S. gun laws are using YouTube to try to get their message out, for example, but face a challenging opponent in the well-financed NRA.

“Signing an online petition is easy, but getting the continuing electoral and financial support of millions is difficult,” Harry Wilson,  a gun industry expert and a public policy professor at Roanoke College in Virginia, tells Bloomberg Businessweek.


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  • Tony L

    Because one wouldn’t be able to find these websites otherwise? I am sure all gun control advocates breathed a sigh of relief this morning.

  • RedRat

    The popularity of violent video games is a symptom of what is wrong in our society. We have, over the years, promulgated a culture in which violent action is the ultimate solution to problems. If someone cuts you off, haul out your gun and take a couple of pot shots. If someone cuts in front of you in line, then haul off and hit (providing they are smaller than you). Out media plays out this fantasy world every day, TV shows, novels, movies all show that the “bad guys” are usually shot at or killed for their bad deeds. There are few “cop shows” on TV wherein a chase or shootout are not included in the plotline.

    The thing is that violence gets our animalistic juices flowing. There is something about the excitement and thrill of punching out someone’s lights, bringing that bad guy down by a well placed shot. This is the message that our media provides us, day to day. Frankly, I do not find it surprising that someone picks up a gun and solves his problems by killing a bunch of kids and adults, then himself. This what our society tells them to do.

  • Tony L

    What ever happened to someone’s actions being his or her own? Why can’t we just give credit where credit is due? That’s one of the real problems with our society. We overanalyze every tragic event and ultimately blame the gun because we are unable to give credit where it’s due.

    There are tens of millions of people that play the same games, watch the same movies and see the same things in the media. And millions of them also legally own guns. Do we really think any of those things matter?

    What happened to the “good old days” of the serial killer? You know, when killers were allowed to be responsible for their own actions.