Unfortunately, neither the White House nor the video game industry seem to have been aware of the meeting before that line was uttered.
As the week begins, we still don’t know anything.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefly mentioned it in response to a question by Associated Press White House reporter Zeke Miller about Congress and gun safety legislation at Thursday’s press briefing. She offered no information beyond saying President Donald Trump would be meeting with “members of the video game industry,” and Miller pushed for no clarification.
Even if someone had asked Sanders, it’s unclear if she could have provided many details; no one seems to know what’s going on.
What little we know is this:
- The Entertainment Software Association and its “member companies” (of which there are 34) have not been invited and did not know about the meeting. The ESA is the primary representative for the video game industry to the political realm. It should be the first one to know if something had been planned.
- No one in the industry has publicly said they’ve been invited.
- No one knows whose idea in the White House it was.
- The meeting could be Wednesday or Thursday, but most likely will be Wednesday.
That’s fairly scant information to work with on a tight time frame when the outcome of said meeting could be congressional or executive action against an industry with 65,000 employees across all 50 states.
And it couldn’t come at a worse time.
Trump is itching to get something done on gun reform and gave overtures to both Republicans and Democrats to entice them to get a bill through Congress. He’s open to arming teachers, raising the gun purchase age to 21 and even confiscating guns. Mental health reform is another avenue he’s aggressively pursuing. He said he’ll ban bump stocks by executive order if he has to.
He wants a win, and this video game industry meeting could prove to remind him of an easy target to go after.
What’s more, Trump is not having a great week and may be less receptive to something he already doesn’t like because of it.
He has lost a long-time confidant in communications director Hope Hicks’ resignation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is eyeing son-in-law Jared Kushner’s foreign business dealings, Kushner’s security clearance was downgraded, chief economic adviser Gary D. Cohn allegedly threatened to resign over Trump’s surprise tariffs that sent markets spiraling, Trump is feuding once again with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and rumors are swirling that National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster is on his way out.
This isn’t to say the meeting shouldn’t happen. It absolutely should, just not right now and not under such confusing and rushed circumstances.
The video game industry deserves the opportunity to defend itself against accusations of playing a role in causing people like Nikolas Cruz to become violent; especially when the regular means of capturing Trump’s attention — television — shows little interest in giving video games airtime.
But a meeting held in the middle of such tumult runs the risk, at best, of falling on deaf ears, and at worst of giving Trump an easy target.