Take-Two CEO Called President Trump's Comments "Disrespectful"

After the twin-shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas that left 31 people dead and many others injured over the weekend, President Donald Trump and other government officials have pointed the finger to video games as the cause for the mass shootings. Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick disagrees, succinctly calling these politicians “disrespectful” in the wake of the mass shootings.

In an interview with Barron’s (via Business Insider), Zelnick called on government officials to address the “uniquely American” problem that is gun violence. “We’re just sickened and saddened by these senseless tragedies,” Zelnick said. “That said, blaming entertainment is irresponsible. Moreover, it is highly disrespectful to the victims and their families. The fact is entertainment is consumed world-wide…but gun violence is uniquely American. So we need to address the real issues.”

On Monday, August 5, President Trump asked for society to stop glorifying violence. He gave a speech suggesting that “the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace” are why mass shootings are becoming normalized.

The Entertainment Software Association (the organization behind E3) refuted President Trump’s statement, saying “numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence.” The organization told GameSpot that “more than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the US.”

Blaming entertainment–especially video games–as the cause for violent acts in society is not new. Back in the 1990s, former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman spearheaded a campaign against titles like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat. At the time, Lieberman called on the regulation of violent video games, saying, “The player is rewarded for attacking a woman, pushing her to the ground, kicking her repeatedly and then ultimately killing her, shooting her over and over again. I call on the entertainment companies–they’ve got a right to do that, but they have a responsibility not to do it if we want to raise the next generation of our sons to treat women with respect.”

Disclosure: Strauss Zelnick was appointed to chairman of the CBS board of directors in 2018. CBS is the parent company of GameSpot and CBSi.

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