President-elect Donald Trump has recently made his opinion clear on the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Regardless of the politics around the situation, Trump doesn't quite seem to understand the technology behind it, saying, “I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”
This isn't the first time Trump's lack of technological understanding has made headlines. He has referred airily to various technologies as “the cyber,” claimed that China is “cyber hacking us all day,” and stated that net neutrality is “a top-down power grab” that “will target conservative media” when net neutrality is about ensuring equal bandwidth for every website. Needless to say, the list goes on. Trump and technology obviously don't go together. As an invisible minority, my fear of Trump's influence has many facets and I often worry that he will one day wield his power against the things I love most. My wife, of course, comes first, but second comes video games.
I think we can all remember the famous Sandy Hook shooting and how so many people yelled at violent video games to take the blame. Trump was a part of that group too, stating that “video game violence & glorification must be stopped—it is creating monsters!” And now he's the President. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before his attention and wrath are turned to video games once again. According to EveryTownResearch, “since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week.” Soon enough, another school shooting will occur, some concerned parent is going to nervously mention GTA or Call of Duty, and the whole thing will start again.
Trump at the forefront of such a wave is could be bad for us as gamers. We might very well start seeing extremely harmful policies being put in place against the games industry. In the worst case scenario, I think our ratings system and IP laws will be the least of our worries. Censorship will take the stage and it's going to be like the burning of The Satanic Verses all over again. Rockstar will be put out of business for its “glorification” of violence and the entire FPS genre will be in danger. I don't even like the Call of Duty series, but I can admit some of them are great games. There is absolutely no reason to shut it down because of a foolish and unproven claim that video games cause violence. Never mind that he'll likely put gamers in the same box he puts hackers: “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
Though this isn't likely to happen anytime soon, I do think it's only a matter of time. Trump has four years to have his say on video games, regardless of whether a school shooting ends up reminding him about it or not. Unless he is careful and relies on actual experts, Trump could do real harm to our beloved hobby.