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Tuesday April 21, GamesIndustry.biz shared an interview with a former senior adviser at the White House, Mark DeLoura, about the governments concerns and views on video games.

Video games and violence, it’s a debate almost as old as video games themselves. From the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) because of Mortal Kombat to the 2011 Supreme Court decision giving video games the same first amendment rights as TV, movies, and books. Even after the Supreme Court decision people have argued about the effects violent video games have on people and whether they can lead to real world violence. This is in spite of the numerous studies that have found no link between violent video games and real world violence.

We see the debate flare up whenever there is a major tragedy like the Newtown school shooting or Elliot Rodgers’ shooting spree. Political pundits and some congressmen look at the fact that the perpetrators of these tragedies played violent video games and latch onto them as the cause. Thankfully there were some encouraging views on video games after Newtown when Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives of the game industry, with Biden saying that video games were not being “singled out.”

DeLoura, who was appointed as Senior Advisor for Digital Media at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy shortly after the meetings with Biden, says that the government is not trying to target violent video games. When he was first appointed DeLoura anticipated the violence and video games debate, he says that even having the meeting with game industry representatives can put out a certain perception without meaning to:

I think the perception of having a meeting like that leads people to think that there’s an actual problem. From one angle, it’s ‘we need to have a meeting to talk about it’ and from the other angle it’s ‘Oh my god they’re meeting, that must be awful!’ That is one of the challenges that I realized working inside of government is sometimes it’s just difficult to engage people in conversation because they come in with a set of beliefs and concern about what other people will say.

Preconceived notions about what the government wanted to do with video games even lead DeLoura to have his guard up when he first started saying, “The funny thing is it felt like I was bringing the violence conversation to the table because I have 20 years of scars and I’m from the game industry. So I come in and it’s like I have my armor on, and nobody ever really said, ‘what about violence in video games?’ Or very, very rarely did that ever come up. It was more about the opportunity than it was about the past, which is great,”

So what is the government’s main concern about video games if they aren’t focused on the violence? DeLoura says the government is focusing on the positive effects games can have, such as education. DeLoura says:

When I would have a conversation inside the White House it would be about ebola. The conversation didn’t typically start with games, it started with a challenge, and then it was like, ‘Is there any way that this community of smart, brilliant passionate people who are working on this new media form… is there some way that they can plug in, do they want to help?’ There was this ebola hack-a-thon in Seattle with a bunch of game developers and it was awesome. When I heard about it, we hooked them up with people who were working on the rollout of the ebola treatment centers.

Feel good stories often don’t have the same prominence in the press as negative stories do, DeLoura says. The feel good stories do exist and video games have been doing great things, such as the neuroscience research being done by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). DeLoura says that it’s a great story to illustrate how video games can do more, rather than just entertain.

DeLoura also notes that the government is concerned about diversity, but wants to encourage rather than regulate. He talks about how they want to encourage the non-profits that have started popping up encouraging girls to get into tech and video games, “So from the federal level, when you talk about what can you do, you can see there’s a bunch of interesting places where you can plug in and you don’t want to regulate things but you want to encourage things,” DeLoura says. Helping the games industry with tax breaks for game development is also something the government is looking into, but they have to do it carefully and use the positive effects of video games as leverage. DeLoura wonders what would happen if a congressperson tried to advocate at the state level for tax credits for games saying, “…would they be met with a ‘what’s the redeeming value [of] games?’ argument. Is games just like popcorn [entertainment] and it’s all shooters and violence, and why are we supporting that? They don’t ask that about films. Films are already past that level of conversation in the media.”

So it seems that video games don’t have as much to worry about from the government as some people believe and are even being looked at for their positive effects. Hopefully video games will get out from under the stigma that they have had in the main stream the same way that other forms of media have and be raised up as a medium that offers a lot of positive benefits. How do you feel about the government’s views on video games? Should they be involved, or stay out altogether?


Kyle Downey

Staff Writer

Staff Writer looking to keep you both informed and entertained. Favorite games include: Pokemon, Overwatch, Golden Sun, Portal, and Elder Scrolls.



  • Syndromic

    Sure video games have a lot of benefits but MSM will still demonise the hobby and continue to misrepresent it if that will make clicks and more revenues.

  • Ben Kuyt

    Then we should stop caring about what they think, as every “outcast” group does.

  • Nick

    uhm, if DeLoura wants to know what happens if someone lobbies for tax breaks for the game industry just come to Oregon. We just formed an advisory board to lobby for tax breaks within the gaming sector to try and get more Game companies to relocate. I’m not sure what all has actually been done yet, other than the formation that happened a few months ago, but it’s a good first step for us here.

  • Max

    Yep, I said the same thing before. Mainstream media is an oxymoron, and not nearly as influential as the like to think. A rapidly declining viewership combined with record low trust in the media means that nobody is buying their bullshit narrative.

  • Syndromic

    The gamers only get pulled into the controversy. We don’t even engage them first. They are the ones that’s coming with accusations and so forth.

  • Invin

    This article reminds me of something I’d read in EGM back in the early days, and that’s pretty cool. Game journalism isn’t dead after all.

  • kasey307

    “DeLoura says that it’s a great story to illustrate how video games can do more, rather than just entertain.”
    Where have I heard that line before………….? Pretty suspicious….
    And as for the author’s question, the gov should definitely stay out altogether.
    Games shouldn’t be used as re-educational tools, period. It doesn’t even work.
    EX: the agent of change demo.
    I feel like vidya is the only medium where propoganda feels like propoganda.

  • Brad Sherard

    Parental abuse, the source of most if not all psychological trauma, will NEVER be addressed by politicians. It would be like a cigarette company willingly educating people about lung cancer caused by smoking. They’d only do it after it was well known.

    Can you imagine what would happen if after Elliot Rodgers killed those people, a politician brought up the problem of absentee parents, leaving their children in daycare and having two full time working parents that never see their child except to yell at them to go to bed at night and to do their homework? Voters would lose their fucking minds. It is the exact opposite of what roll politicians fill. They serve to soothe peoples’ consciences, to deny responsibility and ownership of one’s actions, to blame others and make others obligated for one’s mistakes.

    If a senator mentioned the rise of sociopathy among neglected children of unmarried single parent welfare moms who sacrifice their children to the state, caring so little about their own child that they didn’t even care to make sure their son or daughter would have a father, that politician would be burned at the political stake. If a congressmen pointed out the loss of IQ caused by hitting one’s children, or that the single most correlating factor to criminality and psychopathy is whether a child only has a single parent, you’d have an entire generation of guilty voters calling for his head. Politicians aren’t going to touch this issue at all in any honest way until society itself has already uncovered the evils of child abuse and its direct connection to behavioral problems. They’ll praise better parenting practices only after society rises to the point where it becomes the norm.

  • the7k

    Expecting the mainstream media to represent video games fairly would be like expecting Dracula to flatter the Belmont family.

    Mainstream Media and Video Games are direct rivals. One person playing a video game is one less person watching whatever audio-visual torture they pulled out of their ass.

  • SevTheBear

    In other words nothing has changed. These kind of attacks has been around Art, Music, Movies, Comics and Video Games for years. Hippie types like #FullMcIntosh and feminazis like Anita (aka Jack Thompson 2.0) is always ready to tell how EVIL everything is and how ashamed we should feel about it. Funny enough, they get same message from the already established community as they have in the past…

  • ArsCortica

    “So what is the government’s main concern about video games if they
    aren’t focused on the violence? DeLoura says the government is focusing
    on the positive effects games can have, such as education.”

    They better be careful to that. Games may make for effective learning tools due to their interactive nature, but what kind of education are they willing to reward the industry for – the one suggested by the common core perhaps?

    The more effective an education tool becomes, the less room it leaves for reflection, and the more it starts to resemble indoctrination.

  • To be honest, this seems like this guy is blowing smoke. Considering the President comes from the same ideological ilk as folks like Jonathan McIntosh and other pro-censorship advocates, it sounds like he’s covering for something.

    Beyond that, notice how there’s not a single mention of Obama putting in an executive order on researching the negative effects of video games after Sandy Hook. Or the former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, being a pro-game censorship advocate.

  • “Gamers have nothing to fear from the government”, says government guy.

  • Screech Screecher

    My blood ran cold when Mr. DeLoura talked about games used to educate and not just entertain. Their appetite for control can never be satiated.

  • Aj Retro

    While it’s nice to know games aren’t being targeted by the gov’t, I’m a little suspicious of the “games can educate” line. SJWs want games to “educate” people as well.

  • DEADBEEF

    I’m of two minds. The Government is known to use connections with media companies to create propaganda overseas or to push political agendas at home.

    It’s good that the Feds are currently more about encouraging creation of more types of games as opposed to tearing down existing franchises.

    My distrust of the Feds right now is very high, so I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this.

  • GEhotpants101 .

    You learn every time you play a game. Weapon types, move sets, enemy movements, game lore, terrain types, and how they all react together. It’s not that games can’t teach- they could possibly be the most efficient teaching tool ever invented- it’s just that no one has done it well yet.

  • kasey307

    You’re kidding me, right? I’m guessing you never played a video game in your life.
    If you want to watch educational 3-D videos, watch PBS channels where they frequently broadcast shows that illustrate how the earth and stars work and shit.
    “Educational tools” don’t belong in mature-oriented games, period.
    Bye commie!

  • Misogynerd

    I wonder went through the same shit. What are the educational effects of reading? Oh no, there’s too much blood and violence in books.

  • Problem is that the viewership decline is due to males drifting away. However, they still have the narrative in lockdown due to one simple reason.

    The mainstream media has been targeting women as their main audience for a while now. Guess which gender of the two is more likely to raise a young child in today’s society.

  • GEhotpants101 .

    1.) Learning is not always consuming facts. Learning also includes understanding patterns, and using strategies successfully. Think learning math formulas versus learning history facts. We actually, literally every time we play a game learn new patterns and strategies. If you are not learning new strategies, it means you’re failing every game you play. Ever. If you are not learning when you play games, you’ve never gotten even passably good at one. Not just video games, either. Board games, too. When you work your way up the levels in Mario, and are able to breeze through the first level after going back to it, that’s learning. If you did not learn anything, you’ll never, ever, EVER, be good at any game anywhere. The human brain is LOOKING to learn.
    2.) Nowhere in my post did I say whether or not I agreed with games being used as educational tools, only that it’s actually possible for games to be used as an educational tool (and have the potential to be the most effective we’ve ever found), but so far attempts have been unsuccessful in making something fun and informative.

  • kasey307

    Are you high or just trolling? Like really?

    1) Learning and memorization are two different things. Strategizing in a game is memorization. Memorization is short term- based memory. You don’t carry that info with you because it’s not compatible for your life Particularly video games are mainly used as a form of immersive escapism . So trying to learn in a medium that is used as an escape is a full blown oxymoron. I can’t believe I’m explaining this to someone on a gaming site, Techraptor no less.

    2)If you look at the market for educational games,you’re wrong, they have been and still are very successful and most look decent- fun, BUT they’re steered to kids cause that’s the ONLY demographic that will accept that in their games.You need to come to terms that teens and adults buy video games to solely be entertained, to have fun, to escape real life, to immerse themselves in a new world, etc not to be taught anything that’s to be used in reality regardless of what it is. Whatever type of game it is, whether it’s board, video, casual, etc people play games ultimately for the game. If there’s something that’s not supposed to be there like educational tools or agendized propaganda, It will most likely be ignored in this type of medium. You can’t seriously tell me you or someone you know played monopoly and learned a huge deal about capitalism and the banking system in the process!
    Again, people’s focal point when playing a game, is the game! You’re really wasting your time.

  • Zanard Bell

    Which is why I find it funny that now that the American left is rushing to throw the social justice “warriors” under the bus to save themselves. Didn’t hear them screaming bloody murder when they used the “War on Women” attack on the right. I can stand with people in the movement with a different ideology, but pardon me if I feel the need to rub their hypocritical face in it.

    Screw those guys that said “Why did you do this to us, Jon Stewart?!”.

  • GEhotpants101 .

    Well, first of all…

    Learning

    noun

    1. knowledge acquired by systematic study in any field of scholarly application.

    2. the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.

    3. Psychology. the modification of behavior through practice, training, or experience.

    What you do in games is pretty much number two, here.
    But, let’s just go with your definition, that it has to be something not memorized.

    I don’t understand why you don’t think the gameplay can’t be focused on and be a learning experience at the same time. Look at games like Minecraft. You could very easily (with a few mods, sure, but you could still do it) learn different economy models, and what’s most effective to certain areas based on resources and still have a hell of a time. Think about sim games, like most recently CitySkylines and the most efficient strategies to plan a road system in a modern era. I also don’t understand how you think you aren’t learning when you play games. You keep plenty of the shit you learn playing games. One of the most important life lessons that gamers regularly pick up from games is the virtue of persistence. You also carry over the skills you mastered from one game to another, and in series you will remember enemy themes and weaknesses. Do you start all over at square one complete shit on every FPS like you’re a kid every time? No, you don’t. You don’t because you’ve been trained to be more proficient at FPS games. Try asking someone that only ever played third person platformers to play a brand new FPS versus someone who has always played FPS games and one of them is going to be a lot better at the game than the other. (Hint, it’s the FPS player.) Ask them both to play a brand new platformer, and performance is going to be reversed. Point is, you’re learning whether you want to admit it or not. In almost every hobby, you’re learning. Escapism and learning are not two mutually exclusive things.

    Now, do I necessarily want games to be turned into educational tools? No, not really. They’re an art form, and although they CAN be used to educate, I’d rather they be used to tell a story. Maybe the story does educate, maybe it doesn’t. You will learn about capitalism to a certain degree playing Monopoly, but that’s not as in depth as our example of Minecraft would be because it’s rules are so limited, and in Minecraft you’re able to try out anything and see whether it sinks or swims. (Also, monopoly sucks, and no one is ever happy playing it unless they’re some kind of monster.) You’re coming from an angle of an educational experience being the focus, rather than the game itself, which you’re right, that would be stupid, and suck. But if the game was able to both be a real game, and integrate somehow a learning experience, it could possibly be the most effective teaching tool ever created. (After all, what’s a better way to learn than actual first hand experience doing something?) Not every teaching game is Oregon Trail, though. Very few have been able to be both fun and teach you something that most people would think of as a valuable fact. (Knowing how to do a quest in Skyrim is not a valuable thing to know to most people on the planet.) Your idea of games, learning, and what games can do needs to be expanded, man.

  • kasey307

    Would you really play a game like the wiiU super mario but where you couldn’t proceed forward unless you solved all of the algebra problems written in the clouds OR a halo style game where there’s a halo-based geography quiz at the end of each level.lol That’s how I see “the most effective teaching tool” game translating in reality. I can’t wrap my head around why anyone would want that. Maybe building games like the game you mentioned, minecraft, might just work but, imo any other genre will terribly fall flat. My main problem with it though is that I think it’s a pandora’s box.It’s already happening where gov and non profit organizations are advertising “education in games” when it’s really veiled propaganda on social issues or military recruitment.Look up the agent of change game made for colleges and the immersive project. There’s even more examples out there that I can’t think out right now though.

    If you’re simply just wanting games with an engrossing story,then there’s plenty already out there. I recommend the oddworld series which I’m playing right now except for the newest one which is badly-litten, redone crap. The rest of series though touches on extreme corporate greed, worker’s rights and slavery but it never hits you over the head with it or screams this is a social changing tool etc like some new games do. It’s a story that really pulls on your heartstings.

    About what you said about the mastery of games.
    You don’t learn a skill playing one genre of a game, you simply just know what to expect.That’s reason why many genres including FPS seems to very easy to many gamers because they’re all alike. In a typical FPS, trigger will most likely be to shoot , A or X is to jump etc.
    And if all the games that you happen to play have been coded to around the same challenge level, then yeah, It will seem like you mastered the genre you’re playing when you really didn’t. I will give an example, I’ve played several fighting games like many of the tekkens,DOAs, rumble of roses Etc but I still have trouble playing ANY of the mortal kombat fighting games.
    I also play lots of 2D games like the wiiU mario and super meat boy.That still didn’t prepare me when I recently tried again to beat the original rayman. That game is still fucking hard to this day!
    So that theory is null.

    Two things I do agree with you are monopoly is sucky borefest (I only used it as an example to get my point across) and that vidya can improve gamers’s perseverance.I do wonder how that isn’t mostly gaming related though? I don’t see how that would correlate into real life situations but I digress..

  • GEhotpants101 .

    You’ve listed examples of how learning would be POORLY implemented into a game. Of course a halo clone with algebra would be stupid. You could teach about the various wars in recent times very effectively with an fps, though.

    Knowing what to expect IS learning a skill. Saying it isn’t is like saying becoming a potter isn’t a skill, you just know what to expect from clay. Also, Rayman being hard and you not being very good at fighting games don’t really disprove anything. I can promise you that if it was your first side scrolling platformer, you’d be much worse, and your tenth round of mortal combat would be better than your first. It doesn’t mean you’ll be good, or you’ll ever be any good, but you will get better.

    You’re thinking of something teaching only as something that tells you information, games can teach by having you actively do something. Not giving up when things get tough is the hallmark of anyone successful anywhere. It can apply to literally anything anyone has ever tried.

  • kasey307

    Ok, maybe, you’re right about knowing what expect being a skill rather than just a prediction. Still, I think the skill that you acquire doesn’t necessarily transfer into every single game you play for example original rayman game but, whatever.. Happy now?
    As for the rest of what you said ,you have your very stubborn opinions and I have mines, so let’s just agree to disagree and leave it at that.
    Good day.

  • Übermensch

    Why do you switch from talking about absentee parents that both work to single parents on welfare?
    I have no doubt that being from a single parent home makes someone more inclined towards criminality, parents splitting up or losing a parent, moving apart, and the difficulties of having only one parent at a time put a lot of stress on a child, and for most I’ve seen, that’s led to some kind of mental illness and instability later in life. I don’t think that’s because of single parent families, though, it’s because of the emotional strain.
    My parents split up, but even at their most adversarial, they both cared about me, and they tried very hard to keep the emotional strain to a minimum, not that it always worked, but I think I’m very wegun easadjusted now. They also never did that thing of moving to opposite ends of the country and one parent only seeing me at weekends every three months or whatever.

    Another factor is the rather ineffectual and expensive healthcare system you have, and the lack of support for those with mental health issues. Those who knew Elliott Rodgers must’ve seen he had problems from a mile off, and yet he got no help and somehow got hold of a gun easier than he could get hold of a therapist.