WASHINGTON — Blood. Gore. Intense violence.
These are three "content descriptors" shared by four video games cited by the head of the National Rifle Association as evidence that the American media as a whole — not individual ownership of assault weapons — encourages a culture of violence that occasionally manifests as mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
"There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people — through vicious, violent video games with names like 'Bulletstorm,' 'Grand Theft Auto,' 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Splatterhouse,' " NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said Friday in Washington at a morning news conference, the first public statement by the association since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
All four video games do exhibit "blood and gore" and "intense violence," according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, but many researchers are skeptical that there is a direct link between violent media and aggression in viewers. Violent-crime offenses decreased about 20 percent from 1998 to 2011, according to the FBI, while video game sales more than tripled, to $16.6 billion last year, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
"Bulletstorm," released last year by American gaming company Electronic Arts, is a first-person shooter game in which the player uses futuristic artillery to "perform over-the-top kills that dismember and decapitate foes," according to the rating board. In "Splatterhouse," released in 1988 by Japan-based Namco Bandai Games, players help a college student save his girlfriend from monsters by engaging them in "constant melee-style combat," the rating board said. "Bulletstorm" and "Splatterhouse" are low-selling games larded with sexual content and panned by critics, the video-game blog Kotaku reported.