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ECA Sends Letter To The Veep On Newtown & Video Games

In advance of Vice President Joe Biden's coming recommendations on legislation addressing gun violence, the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has sent a letter to the Vice President urging him not to demonize video games.

Jennifer Mercurio, ECA vice president and general counsel, asked him not to blame media, pointing out that there has been no link between violent behavior and video games, as well as citing the Supreme Court decision that video games are protected as speech and demonstrating stats that show that violent crime has dropped as game sales have increased.

Here is the letter:

Dear Mr. Vice President,

In the wake of the Newtown, CT school shooting, I am writing to you on behalf of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) to weigh in on our members’ perspective regarding media consumption. We’re asking you to support the public’s constitutional right to access and buy games, and to not blame media, including video games, for the recent tragedy that has befallen our nation.

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 ECA is committed to a host of public policy efforts, and empowering and enabling the membership to effect change. Additionally, the organization provides members substantial affinity benefits, including discounts on games-related purchases and rentals, as well as community and educational initiatives. While all Americans have been impacted by the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary, our main office is also located in Wilton, CT, and thus we have been managing the trauma on a personal level with friends, neighbors and colleagues who have been directly impacted by the horrific event there.

With the recent tragedy on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooter. Unfortunately some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content even more won’t solve the issue.

Studies shows that media does not cause violence. Christopher J. Ferguson, Chair of Texas A&M International University's Department of Psychology & Communication, has shown through his work that there’s no link between violent video games and real world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression. Others’ work, including federally funded studies, all agree.

Media consumption has risen as the number of violent crimes has dropped. While video game sales have increased, violent crime has been steadily decreasing according to FBI statistics. In 2011, video game sales increased to over $27 billion dollars and violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, violent crime has decreased 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales.

At the same time, federal courts – including the Supreme Court – have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional. Funding more studies – or passing laws that then get fought out in courts – costs taxpayers millions of dollars.

It is in your power to guide this conversation and not blame entertainment media.

We would very much welcome the opportunity to meet with you, or your staff, to discuss these issues.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

[signed Jennifer Mercurio, vice president & general counsel]

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