Does Sandy Hook Shooting Spell Game Over for Violent Video Game Stocks?

video game violence
Violent video games are coming under fire again -- but this time the collateral damage may be serious.

Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced a bill in Congress last week that directs federal agencies to study the influence of violent video games on children. In it, he calls on the National Academy of Sciences to lead the investigation and come back with an actionable report by 2014.

Video game publishers obviously weren't too happy about that. Intense combat games have proven to be the battered industry's biggest hits lately, and they can't afford to make those games more restrictive than they already are.

Then again, after the tragic Sandy Hook shootings earlier this month, a lot of things are on the table.

Fumbling for the "Continue" Button

Last week was rough for owners of video game stocks.
  • Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) - Off 13 percent last week
  • Electronic Arts (EA) - Off 9 percent
  • Activision Blizzard (ATVI) - Off 7 percent
  • GameStop (GME) - Off 7 percent
Take-Two Interactive took the biggest hit, and it's easy to see why. The modest-sized developer's biggest franchise by far is the Grand Theft Auto series. Stealing cars and shooting up baddies is part of the game, and the company recently announced that Grand Theft Auto V will come out early next year.

EA's hit was a bit of a surprise. Yes, EA makes plenty of shoot-em-ups, but it's also the company with the iconic EA Sports franchise that delivers steady annual installments of football and soccer games.

Activision Blizzard set industry sales records last month with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. As the niche leader, the company's name is going to come up in any debate about violent video games.

GameStop is the leading standalone retailer for video games. If it's going to be harder for teens to get their hands on violent games in the future -- or if the industry finds that the games just aren't lucrative enough to continue making -- the small-box store will feel the pinch.

What's the Next Play?

Diehard gamers will argue that it's wrong to go after their entertainment. Tens of millions of players fire up multi-player sessions of Call of Duty games, and they have no need to re-create the violence in the real world.

Video games -- like movies -- are a form of escapism. The multi-player nature of many games today encourages social interaction, and that's something that could actually help straighten the mindset of the loner outcast that may resort to violent real-world outbursts. Spending free time playing games may also keep some youths out of causing havoc in the real world.

It can also be argued that mass shootings have taken place long before video games or even violent movies and TV shows were around. There may very well be a bigger issues at play here.

And that's what this bill is all about. It's a study to get to the root of the matter. It's a starting point. It won't be the end of the gaming industry as we know it.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and GameStop. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Activision Blizzard, GameStop, and Take-Two Interactive.

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take away the games and sell more guns. that's the idea!

January 01 2013 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We can only hope that violent video games are censored. They are a bad influence on our youth and promote the violence in our violent society.

December 27 2012 at 1:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I think violent video games are to blame for the growing violence committed by children and young people. What is wrong with children who cannot seem to invent or be able to play with games that don't involve killing. I think these violent games should be pulled from shelves and destroyed and those stupid parents who bought them for their kids should turn them in.

December 27 2012 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

They should make it agaist the law to have children with out a license. People need to really know the signs of a problem developing. We have to stop blaming movies, guns, vidieo games, or other people's influence on our kids when they do wrong and pay attention to them before things happen.

December 27 2012 at 7:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Played violent videos since ID games first introduced DOOM in the 1990's....
Played many others, lot of fun with these interactiverealistic cartoons.
Have ZERO urge to harm anything.
Perhaps like cigarettes, anyone under 18 should have no access to these "mature" games.

December 27 2012 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if violent video games were to blame there would be a lot more shootings . it can never be anybodys fault it always has to be blamed on video games . colombine was blame on video games and marilyn manson . not the parents of the 2 idiots who had hit lists posted on their bedroom walls and ammo all over their rooms . please in this case the mother knew her son had mental issues and yet she allowed her son access to guns . No one brings up the point that with his mental issues and weapons he was a danger to others as well as himself . I play video games so are violent but i have no urges to kill anyone , maybe because they dont make you a violent person.

December 27 2012 at 12:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tazman216a's comment

Go back to school, its a proven fact, violence, whether real, or implied in video games can, and does bring on symptoms of PTSD. Throw in, many of the most violent video game manufacturers are supported by the firearms industry as detailed in the WSJ the other day, and it gives us just cause to restrict sales.

December 27 2012 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The real question should be, does a new look at what violent video games do to our young spell game over for the gun banners. Nah, they will always be with us. Not a rational thought among all of them,, but more than enough emotional, irrational baloney to spread around. I'll take mine on wheat crackers, please.

Now if a good look at the failure of the Mental Health System also happens, great. Along with a look at the failure of Law Enforcement to enforce the over 20,000 gun control laws already on the books. Oh, just too much to hope for. The leftists will never understand all this. Besides they seem to like slogans, Ban Guns. The forefathers didn't foresee assault weapons, All you need are single guns for hunting and you have no need to protect yourself. There is no sporting use for hi-cap mags. And on and on and on. Irrational statements that just do not make sense.

Hopefully someday they will grow up and see the error of their ways. Nah., that is too much to hope for.

December 27 2012 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It stands to reason . . . if your involved with Video games from age 4.5 to 19, for 3 to 5 hours during the school week and more on weekends - teacher finds your a social wreck and advises drugs to center little Johnny and mummy and pop who are working 2 jobs jump on the idea . . . MENTAL HEALTH CARE is only available after "Little Johnny" becomes a criminal . . . and is introduced to more advanced cases of distressed youth to earn his Ph.D in anti social behavior! Maybe if the ACLU hadn't kicked G-d out of school and drugs hadn't been so accessible both prescribed and illegal, our children might have 1/2 a chance! A tax on VIDEO GAMES similar to what's on Cigarettes with proceeds dedicated to MENTAL HEALTH would be the way to go, until then arm a few teachers, recruit and train volunteers to guard our most important national treasures!

December 27 2012 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The problem is with parents who ignore the age levels on the games. "Oh, my kid is very mature for his age and understand that it is only a game."

Bu - - - - - t!!

I was in my late 50's and was playing a Lord of the Rings game. I got so into it during one session that my wife and son left the room. When I realized that I was actually enraged at the fictional characters in the game and was wanting to destroy them that I turned off the game and deleted it. I forgot that it was "only a game." So don't tell me that a 15,14,13,12,or 11 year old has the maturity to make that same distinction.

Those Maturity guides are there for a reason. A friend of my son was playing Halo at age 11 with the blessings of his father. How in heaven's name can an 11 year old understand that a war game has absolutely no true relationship to what a real combat soldier endures, plus the fact that in a real war you can't hit the replay button and regain your life.

The parents should be regulating these games, but since so many refuse to - is it up to the government to set laws to prevent as many of these games as possible from getting into our children's hands? Based on so many shooting, it is at least time for the government to look into video games as a possible factor, either directly or indirectly. (Perhaps the game wasn't why someone began a killing spree, but just perhaps their video game experience gave them the idea of how to extract their revenge.

December 26 2012 at 10:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

You can't ban violent video games. movies or tv shows. If they do then they should ban teen mom, pregnant at 16 and all the other shows that glamourize teen pregnency, and of course they should ban all kid beauty pagents. Don't tell me those poor young girls aren't messed up in the head after being forced to compete. Nobody is being forced to watch violence, it is our freedom of choice in this once great country. And I hope it returns to the great country I helped defend.

December 26 2012 at 9:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to rconfsd's comment
MIchigan Man

You want to view violence, join the military and fight a REAL war. /s/ Retired U.S. Navy FMF Doc., Viet Nam Vet.

December 26 2012 at 9:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Grow up! They can, and will restrict access to many of the more violent products. In addition, if your older than 12, you'd know, most of the military themed video games are sponsored by the makers of firearms, and add on accessories. As for defend, I served six years 72 - 78, Great Lakes, Coronado, Charleston, Little Creek, and Naples, and I'm mature enough to know, many people are affected by violence, leaving them with a form of PTSD, and thus a risk to others in society.

December 26 2012 at 10:13 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply