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EA boss: videogames don't cause violence, but we have to solve "the perception issue"

"We're responsible, we're mature, we intend to be part of the solution."

Speaking to investors yesterday, EA's chief executive officer John Riccitiello has reiterated the often-reiterated argument that there's no evidence for videogames causing violent behaviour, but conceded that appeals to scientific fact won't, in themselves, win the war of perceptions.

His comments come weeks after the publication of a Common Sense survey, which found that 75 per cent of US parents believe violent videogames "contribute" to real-life violence.

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"The games industry is a very mature, responsible industry, more so than you might otherwise imagine," Riccitiello began. "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," he added.

"I could give you long stories about how people in UK, or Denmark or Ireland or Canada consume as much or more violent games and violent media as we do in the United States, and yes, they have an infinitely smaller incidence of gun violence, but that's not really the point.

"The point is, the direct studies that have been done - hundreds of millions of dollars of research that has been done - has been unable to find a linkage because there isn't one."

Claims that the videogames industry is to blame for violent outbreaks have been rife in the wake of shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut - a number of newspapers have attributed the crisis to the killer's alleged fondness for Dynasty Warriors.

"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," Riccitiello explained.

"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," he went on. EA will have more to say in future about "how we can be a part of the solution to this perception problem as opposed to, if you will, the butt of the joke."

US president Barak Obama has proposed new research into the effects of violent media on children. "We don't benefit from ignorance. We don't benefit from not knowing the science," he said during a press conference this month. "This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged, and their voices should compel us to change."

The president has also, however, proposed sweeping changes to gun laws, including new background checks for gun buyers and a ban on automatic weapons and magazines holding more than 10 bullets. The National Rifle Association has, inevitably, condemned the move.

In a letter to vice-president Joe Biden, the International Game Developers Association's Daniel Greenberg "[welcomed] more evidence-based research into the effects of our work to add to the large body of existing scientific literature that clearly shows no causal link between video game violence and real violence. Instead of simply trying to find negative effects, we ask that any new research explore the benefits of violent video games, too."

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