Violence is an international problem that has several origins. Many of them linked to issues such as corruption and impunity that allow criminals and organized crime to operate without punishment. Others with which the sale of arms is a huge industry from which many are benefited.
Unfortunately, different governments around the world have found it easier to scapegoat rather than end the gun problem. One of the favorites is video games, who have been singled out for years as the source of the problem, even if science says otherwise.
In recent months, the federal government of Mexico has decided to continue on this path. On several occasions, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of the nation, has accused “el Nintendo” of fomenting violence. Now, Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Foreign Relations, said that arms companies finance the development of violent video games.
On the morning of December 21, 2021, Ebrard was questioned about the lawsuit that the Mexican government filed against arms manufacturers in the United States. In his statements, he accused the arms manufacturers of financing video games to foment violence by removing the “human dimension” and turning aggression into “a kind of competition.”
“It is a lawsuit filed by Mexico against 11 arms companies in the Massachusetts court. It was presented on August 4, 2021. What is Mexico claiming in that lawsuit? That the manufacturing, distribution, advertising and sale practices of these companies favor the trafficking and use of weapons in Mexico linked to violence.
The companies’ argument is: ‘well, I sell a weapon and it is not my responsibility what you do with the weapon’. What they do not say, and we do say in our lawsuit, is that they are generating weapons even that they know are destined for the market linked to drug trafficking and violence in Mexico (…) They are also financing video games, eh? To encourage the expansion of the consumption of weapons with young people. To remove the human dimension from what it means to attack another person with a weapon and turn it into a kind of competition with weapons specially designed for it ”, were the words of the Mexican Foreign Minister.
Related video: Marcelo Ebrard accuses arms companies of financing video game development
Gun companies finance the gaming industry?
Marcelo Ebrard’s accusations are serious. After all, they claim that weapons manufacturing companies use video games as a kind of propaganda to motivate the consumption of their product and even normalize violence.
Unfortunately for the Mexican foreign minister, it is an accusation made without bases. Although for years there was a relationship between video games and these companies, the reality is that it has never been proven that it was the arms companies that paid the video game companies. Rather it was the other way around.
Several years ago, Electronic Arts, the company behind the series Medal of Honor, had licensing agreements with gun manufacturers to use them in their games. In other words, he paid them to have the right to present real brand pistols and rifles in their video games. It was something that received a lot of criticism and threats of boycott, so in 2013 the company promised not to do it again.
Recently, The Atlantic contacted video game companies to find out their current position on the issue. Some did not respond, but Electronic Arts, Rebellion and Take-Two Interactive confirmed that none of the weapons in their games appear under a license agreement.
“It is absolutely the same as with the cars in the games. [Las compañías de juegos] they must pay us royalties “
Bottom line: for many years video game companies paid gun companies, and not the other way around. In fact, Ralph Vaughn, who is in charge of Barrett’s licensing agreements, confirmed to Eurogamer that when we see a real weapon in a game, this is because the company behind it paid an amount to be able to use it.
“It is absolutely the same as with the cars in the games. They must pay us royalties, be it a one-time payment or a percentage of sales, everything is negotiable. Typically, a licensee pays between 5 and 10% of the commercial price for the deal. But we can negotiate something. It could be a few thousand dollars, based on past projects and projected sales. (…) We must also give prior approval to the image or the logo to protect the identity of the brand ”.
If more and more companies are moving away from real gun brands to avoid trouble, why are there games that feature weaponry that actually exists? As explained to Eurogamer A former Codemasters developer who remains anonymous, the developers protect themselves by using the model’s design, but using their military name instead of the brand name. That’s why in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War you can see an M82 rifle and not a Barrett M82.
Something different can be said about the film industry. As reported The Hollywood Reporter, there are precedents of gun companies that have paid to appear in movies. Such is the case of Beretta, a company that reached an agreement of $ 250,000 USD for its 92FS pistol to appear in Lone Survivor, film starring Mark Wahlberg.
“Movies offer a great opportunity to introduce or highlight firearms with different groups of influential people, such as the military and law enforcement authorities. That is where we focus our efforts,” says Gary Ramey, the former Beretta executive who negotiated the deal. .
Now, although it has not been shown that weapons companies finance video games and gaming companies are gradually moving away from this market, the argument can still be made that the presence of weapons in games motivates gamers to buy them, but is that so?
So far, no real link has been shown in which the presence of weapons in video games increases the sale of rifles and pistols. This is something that even Vaughn de Barret acknowledged when he asserted that it is difficult to determine whether the presence of his products in video games had any impact.
Why do people buy guns? SPOILER ALERT: It has nothing to do with video games
Of course: although Barrett cannot verify that it served to increase his sales, it cannot be said that it did not. So it is important to ask: what motivates people to buy guns?
According to a Gallup poll made in August 2019, the main reason people bought a gun was for safety reasons, while 4 out of 10 did it for hunting and only 11% did it for “recreation or sport”. Video games were not mentioned in the survey as a reason why guns were purchased.
A report from ABC News He noted that from 2019 to 2020, arms sales in the United States increased among African Americans, Asians and Latinos. The reason? The investigation determined that fear of being the victim of a hate crime was the main reason why many decided to buy a gun.
Another motive was propaganda by pro-gun groups, who used gun advocates of African American, Asian, and Hispanic origin to motivate minority groups to buy guns.
We repeat: video games do not generate violence
Finally, we have to talk about the usual topic: the links between video games in violence, do they really exist? According to various studies, not even the bloodiest video games create violent beings.
An investigation published by the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking revealed that there is no relationship between the consumption of violent video games and the increase in aggressive behavior. This is a study that was done over 10 years, so it was really reviewed if there is a long-term impact.
There is other similar research, such as that of the University of Oxford that says that “the idea that violent video games provoke aggression in the real world is popular, but it has not been adequately proven over time.” Or that of the Hamburg-Eppendorde Clinical University Germany that found no “relevant negative effects in response to playing violent video games.”
So why is it so common to see players responsible for shootings? As mentioned Henry JenkinsAs an American academic, what happens is that these crimes are usually committed by young people and the majority of people in this age group are gamers. It would be like blaming music or movies for crimes committed before the 80s.
“It is true that the young people responsible for the school shootings in the United States have also been gamers. But young people are more likely to be gamer; 90% of the boys and 40% of the girls play. The vast majority of children who play do not commit antisocial acts, ”Jenkins said.
What does all this mean? That video games are not the reason why there is violence in Mexico and other parts of the world. We cannot rule out that many are aware of the existence of different brands of weapons thanks to their presence in a game from years ago. However, that does not mean that the video game is a motivating factor to buy a weapon, much less to commit a crime. There are also no known cases where a weapons manufacturer has paid to receive promotion in a video game, on the contrary!
For this reason, the words of Marcelo Ebrard this morning were only bullshit. To end violence in Mexico it is necessary to end corruption and impunity; punish criminal companies and work to end the socioeconomic conditions that are the true root of violence and inequality.
Looking for more news related to the video game industry in Mexico? You will find them here.