Walmart employees have been told to remove signs and playable demos of videos games depicting violence following two separate shootings at its stores in less than a week.
Displays “referencing violence”, video game demos and hunting videos have been removed at Walmart stores across the country in the wake of atrocities carried out at stores in recent weeks.
President Donald Trump made a public statement days after 22 people were shot at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on August 3, alleging that “gruesome and grisly” violent video games were partly to blame.
In an email seen by Vice News, employees were told to review their stores for “any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behaviour” alongside demos of “violent games, specifically PlayStation or Xbox units” and events for “combat style or third-person shooter games”.
Walmart told CNBC that it had “taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment”, many have been critical of the move for perpetuating the idea of a link between violent video games and real violence.
Director of The Interpersonal Research Laboratory and professor of psychology at Villanova University Patrick Markey told CNBC: “The research is not there to suggest that there is a link between violent video games and these horrific acts of violence.
“When we look at when people play video games, we actually see a dip in violent crimes … and we don’t see an uptick later on.”
Walmart has notably made “no change” to its gun selling policy, despite fervent calls from both employees and anti-gun activists.