Video games to come under scrutiny in US gun violence review

Violent video games will be among the areas looked at by US Vice President Joe Biden

Violence in video games and other aspects of pop culture in the U.S. will be among the areas examined as part of an investigation aimed at reducing gun violence in the country.

The investigation, headed by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, has been charged with producing proposals no later than the end of January on legislative action the government could take as it seeks to reduce gun violence. Biden's work comes in reaction to the shocking killing last week of 26 people -- most of them small children -- at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.

"When it comes to cultural matters, that's an area that bears exploration and is one of the areas that the president hopes will be a topic of the conversation that he wants to undertake," said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, at a televised press briefing on Thursday when asked by a reporter if the study would include pop culture.

"He wants to hear ideas and proposals from a lot of stakeholders. Not just experts within his administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but from a broad array of sources who might have ideas about how to pursue this," he said.

Carney said the president understood the issues were complex and covered many areas including the availability of guns and mental health counselling.

"I don't have a specific proposal when it comes to cultural matters, but it is certainly the case that we in Washington have the potential to help elevate issues that are of concern and elevate issues that contribute to the scourge of gun violence in the country. That has been the case in the past and it certainly could be in the future," said Carney.

As the years have progressed and video gaming has become more popular and more realistic, the games have become increasingly violent. Several of the best-selling video games involve players carrying sophisticated and powerful weaponry that's used to kill on-screen opponents.

One of the most popular franchises -- Activision's Call of Duty -- recently launched a new edition of the game and rang up sales of $1 billion in 16 days.

But there's no simple link between such violent games and what happened in Newtown and other mass shootings in the U.S. While investigations into such shootings often uncover a possible influence from video games, violent movies or gun ownership, millions of people enjoy these things without turning violent.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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