As of the middle of the week, everyone is still talking about a brief glimpse of President Biden playing Mario Kart Arcade GP DX with his family at Camp David, thanks to a now-expired Instagram story posted by his granddaughter Naomi. In a story just as compelling: Mario Kart Arcade GP DX exists at Camp David.
While this is a feel-good story of little overall consequence, it does seem to indicate we’ve crossed an invisible threshold separating the time where the majority of American voters agreed to rally behind anyone who could evict Donald Trump from the White House and where we are now—a world where there’s time to think about the new president’s position on less-critical issues. This is a good thing.
Many outlets concluded this story with a mention of the Biden/Harris Animal Crossing island
from election season. This is reasonable given its recency, but together the stories paint a potentially misleading portrait of a pro-gaming president. The truth is a bit more complicated.
Folks around the industry were quick (and correct) to condemn Donald Trump for bringing up violent video games in the same sentence as guns
after a mass shooting. Many have forgotten that Biden took the lead on behalf of the Obama administration to do the same thing
after the Sandy Hook shooting. Although he initially promised he was approaching the industry with “no judgment,” several meetings and town hall discussions culminated in the administration calling on the CDC to study violent games
(among other media) as a potential cause for gun violence. To his credit, he said there was a need for “well-funded studies by really first-rate people
” in what may have been a reference to early video game studies that seemed to agree with his concerns but were later discredited
. He later commented to religious leaders that there was “no legal reason
to place a punitive tax on violent games, apparently overlooking first amendment protections on such media in addition to a Supreme Court ruling
expressly rejecting the idea that a legislative body can suppress such content because it finds the ideas or images unsuitable.
More readers will likely recall the “little creep
” and “teach you how to kill people” comments during President Biden’s meetings with Silicon Valley executives (he confirmed he was speaking about a representative from the game industry). There is much debate
on which specific game industry representative he was speaking about, but there’s a high probability the individual was a publishing executive who hadn’t been involved in anything particularly egregious.
Ultimately, Joe Biden is a career politician, and career politicians in the United States rarely care one way or the other about video games unless they need a win when gun control legislation is out of reach. It’s clear he’s one of many Americans unconvinced by studies disputing any causal link between video games and violence, and this is a difficult belief to correct. The majority of American voters agreed it was vital to elect Biden and for much more important reasons, but we should probably expect to see the new president lean away from video games when he’s on the fence, and if a movement starts to overturn the existing protections for games, we may see a whole lot more.