President Obama wants the United States Congress to provide $10 million to study the potential link between violent video games and real-life crime.
During a press conference in which he detailed a range of new measures designed to combat gun violence, the president said it was time to study the effect of violent games on "young minds".
"We don’t benefit from ignorance," the president said. "We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence. Congress should fund research into the effects violent video games have on young minds."
Obama called for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to run new scientific inquiries into the relationship.
Previously Congress had been resistant to such moves because the research might have promoted gun control, according Wall Street Journal.
But after the debate on gun control was reignited following the murder of 20 children and six staff at a school in Connecticut last year, Obama has pushed more aggressively for new measures.
The White House said in a follow-up memo that the research was not designed to be political. The full text of the relevant portion of the memo reads:
The President is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. It is based on legal analysis that concludes such research is not prohibited by any appropriations language.
The CDC will start immediately by assessing existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions, with the greatest potential public health impact. And the Administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.
The Entertainment Software Association in the US said it welcomed the process of conducting new research, but said the data did not suggest a link:
"The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world."
The news was given a mixed response by gamers online, many of whom have battled the perception that video games cause violent crimes in the past. Some fear greater restrictions on video game content if such research declared a link did exist.
"Obama is the enemy of liberty," said a gamer commenting on Polygon.com.
"I'm pretty sure the biggest root cause of gun violence is having easy access to guns..... I'd have told him that for $5 million, see i'm helping their economic woes too!" said a commenter on ComputerandVideoGames.com.
But others said that research was welcome, even if it was likely to prove inconclusive:
Some writers in the US have also stressed that the announcement may not represent the 'war on video games' as it has been presented by much of the news media.
Additionally, it has been noted that the $10 million Obama is requesting will cover "all the causes and prevention of gun violence" - and in particular those with the greatest potential impact on public health, which may or may not include games.
Finally, Orland notes that the White House has also recently hired a senior analyst to study the positive role of video games on young children.
As a result, some commentators have described the president's statement as merely paying lip-service to the concerns on both sides of the aisle about the role of video games, without any pressingly requirement that solid action be taken as a result.
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