Joe Biden meets with gaming industry over gun violence, but promises he's not singling it out

Joe Biden Video Game Talk

As Vice President Joe Biden meets with members of the video game industry, he's trying to reassure them that they're only one part of a wide initiative to curb gun violence — and perhaps unintentionally revealing how muddled the debate around games and violence actually is. In a statement recorded below, Biden spent a full quarter of his time listing the other sectors he was in talks with, from gun safety advocates to mental health experts to the Rotary Club. "I want you to know you have not been singled out for help," he said.

Besides a somewhat odd statement advocating guns that would only fire in the hands of their official owners, one of Biden's most topical statements referred to former Senator Daniel Moynihan's 1993 essay about desensitization towards violence, "Defining Deviancy Down." Comparing current gun violence to that era's crack cocaine epidemic, he asked "whether or not there's a coursening of our culture in a way that is not healthy. I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm not sure what impact it would have or wouldn't have on the kind of events." It was a heavily muted version of the desensitization argument common in critiques of gaming, which recently showed up in an NRA speech and a cancelled plan to collect and burn violent media.

Obviously, a searing critique of gaming wouldn't have been appropriate or helpful at a meeting in which Biden asked for the industry's help. But the statement also showcases how strange the debate around games and violence has been in the wake of Sandy Hook. While some people have singled out video games, the lack of an obvious narrative around Adam Lanza and the proliferation of other shootings with no single motivation have made arguments that they were caused by the media seem unhelpfully abstract. Biden didn't single out games for criticism, but neither did he seem to be doing more than turning over the usual stones for answers that don't seem to be forthcoming.

The Verge
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.