Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello addressed the recent criticisms leveled at the videogame industry following the Sandy Hook shooting. While the executive was keen to point out the lack of evidence suggesting games are responsible, he nonetheless believes games need to tackle their negative perception head-on.
"The games industry is a very mature, responsible industry, more so than you might otherwise imagine," he said during yesterday's financial call. "We're very confident in the quality of our content and the lack of an actual factual linkage to any of the actual violence that takes place in America and markets around the world.
"There is no doubt that we, like you, were stunned and horrified by the violence in Connecticut or Colorado and many other places over the years. But there's been an enormous amount of research done in the entertainment fields looking for linkages between entertainment content and actual violence and they haven't found any."
Riccitiello went on to remark how other nations are as exposed to "violent" videogames as North America, yet gun crime is significantly lower, and definitely refuted any assumed link between real-life violence and interactive software. Nevertheless, he did admit gun violence was a problem that the game industry couldn't ignore.
"We understand that while there may not be an actual problem, given all the finger-pointing going on in the press, there appears to be the perception of a problem and we do have to wrestle with that," he stated. "We're responsible, we're mature, we intend to be part of the solution. Our media reaches literally every American and that can be used as a voice for good.
"We were horrified like you, it's not about games, there's a perception issue, and we can be part of that solution and we're ready to step up to do that."
All I can say to that last part is -- it's about bloody time!
Electronic Arts especially has come under fire for games such as Medal of Honor and Mass Effect, but it's never actually bitten back. When FOX News took an ignorant dump all over Mass Effect, it was Geoff Keighley, not John Riccitiello, who had to rush to its defense. When FOX talked game violence in a spot yesterday, it was Rev 3's Adam Sessler, not a representative of the game publishing industry, who had to fight its corner.
For the longest time, the game industry has relied on pundits and fans to stand up to the stupidity in mainstream media, and it's high time the influential people with the real vested interest start growing a spinal column and taking part in their own battles. If there is a growing perception problem, the videogame industry's unwritten rule to never stand up for itself could only have helped that foster.
There's something to be said for taking the high road and not biting the bait, but there's another to be said for letting one side of an argument do all the talking, to the point where the audience has no alternative point of view to go on.