Violence in video games is a hot button issue in some circles, with pundit going as far as to blame gun violence on crimes committed around the world, and most recently in the US. One of the most vocal accusers of late, is the EVP of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, who in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut called the video game industry a “callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against own people, through vicious violent video games.” His opinion, is not one which Gearbox president Randy Pitchford shares.
Speaking with GI International during DICE 2013, Pitchford said he has mixed feelings on including gratuitous violence in games, but at the same time it’s important to “stand up for anyone’s ability to explore ideas and to express.”
“I have mixed feelings. I don’t think there are thought crimes,” he said. “I think the evidence is that the more a culture can share an experience and understanding through informational media, that the more mature and safe and secure and nonviolent that culture actually becomes.
“That said, as a creator and as a consumer, you can see true bullshit. I don’t really have a lot of respect for that. If you’re going to do something gratuitous just to get my attention and there’s no other value to it, I’ll see right through it as a customer.”
Pitchford said before casting blame or stones in another direction, the NRA would benefit more from taking a page out of the ESRB’s playbook.
“Think about the world’s relationship and the game industry’s relationship with the ESRB,” he said. “The ESRB is our self-regulated ratings body; the industry created this body to put labels on games. Most publishers, we pay for the ESRB, but we also have this high tension relationship. They’re really good at their jobs – they hold the industry accountable to fitting within the guidelines of whatever the label is and they will label appropriately. If you cross a line they will put you in a different spot, whether you want to be in that spot or not. And compared to the movie rating system, they have the best awareness and understanding of what their rating system is, and they have the best enforcement. Retail participates.
“Imagine if the NRA was actually advocating for gun laws; imagine if the NRA had the same relationship with the gun industry that the ESRB has with the game industry. Instead of the NRA saying don’t make any laws, now it would be like, ‘Fuck, the NRA’s making me do all this so my guns are safer, and I get why they’re doing it but it’s kind of a pain in my ass.’ That’s how the game industry’s relationship is with the ESRB.
“We love that it’s there but we’ve got to deal with shit; we have to go through a process to get the rating. If we don’t the retailers won’t stock us, and when some of the content pushes the line a little bit they’re going to call us on it and we have to deal with that. Imagine if the NRA had that same relationship with its industry, they could be good guys.”
The full interview can be read through the link.