Following a pair of mass shootings in the United States, the public eye has turned toward violent video games as a possible contributor. Seemingly in response, the retail giant Walmart has reportedly begun removing signage promoting violent video games from its stores.
Vice reports that a company memo titled "Immediate Action: Remove Signing and Displays Referencing Violence" was distributed to Walmart stores. The notice tells store managers to find any displays that "contain violent images or aggressive behavior" and remove them from the sales floor. It specifically mentions demos of violent games on PlayStation or Xbox, "combat style or third-person shooter games," violent movies, and hunting videos in the sporting goods section. The policy does not appear to restrict the sale of violent games or other media, just their promotion.
Walmart is an especially symbolic place for this to take place. One of the two mass shootings from the weekend, in El Paso, Texas, took place inside a Walmart store. Plus, as critics have pointed out, Walmart itself sells actual guns in its stores, and despite pressure from gun control activists, the company has announced no change in its policy.
Following the two tragedies in El Paso on August 3 and Dayton, Ohio on August 4, President Donald Trump gave a brief address in which he suggested, in part, that violent video games contribute to a culture of violence.
"We must stop the glorification of violence in our society," Trump said. "This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately."
One of the shooters did reportedly reference the Call of Duty series in his manifesto, which largely centered on targeting Latinx people. Critics say the president and others are attempting to shift the conversation toward video games and away from gun control, which has had renewed calls from across the political spectrum following the shootings.
In response to the president's statement, the ESA told GameSpot, "Numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence. More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the US."
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email [email protected]