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Amid gun debate, game investors express concern
Following the tragic events that occurred in Newtown last week, video game investors are worried potential new legislation may lead to restricted sales of video games that depict acts of violence.
Following the tragic events that occurred in Newtown last week, video game investors are worried potential new legislation may lead to restricted sales of video games that depict acts of violence. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, a government figure who has long been concerned about the impact violent video games have on children, introduced legislation this week that directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive study and investigation into the connection between violent video games and harmful effects on children. The Senator's hope is that the study will find, within the next 18 months, whether violent video games do in fact have a unique impact on children. As Doug Creutz of analyst group Cowen and Co. notes in an investor note today, it is not hugely surprising that Senator Rockefeller has chosen to scrutinize the link with video games rather than gun control, given that West Virginia has the fifth highest rate of gun ownership in the U.S. The lobbying power of the National Rifle Association (which on Friday said video games contribute to real-life violence) will no doubt have far exceeded that of the Entertainment Software Association in the area. However, Creutz was quick to stress that video game investors should not be worried by this new legislation, nor should they be worried about any links being made between the tragedy in Newtown and violent video games. This is because, first off, video games are protected under the First Amendment, as was firmly ruled last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, and therefore sales of violent games to minors cannot be banned. But there is more to it than that, says Creutz. He suggests that, since most players of M-rated video games are adults (the average Call of Duty player is 29 years old, for example), fears that parents will stop buying mature games for their children are overblown, as parents by and large aren't buying video games for their kids anyway. Adds Creutz, "We think any notion that lower future consumption of shooter titles by children represents a real risk to video game sales is misplaced."