Walmart Asks Employees To Remove Violent Video Game Signage

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty

For the past couple of days, Walmart employees have been receiving memos instructing them to remove “any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behaviour.” Principal among the suggested items are demos and signs promoting violent video games.

Vice first reported on the memo’s circulation earlier today. It tells employees to “remove,” “turn off,” or “cancel” a range of promotions, specifically “consoles that show a demo of violent video games,” signs “referencing combat or third-person shooter video games,” any events promoting those kinds of games, violent movies that might be playing in the electronics section, and hunting season videos in the sporting goods section.

The memo specifically says to remove these items “immediately.”

Kotaku reached out to Walmart for more information, but the company has yet to respond. In the meantime, it’s unclear how widespread these memos are, but a number of people claiming to be employees have said they’ve received them on Reddit. Journalist Kenneth Shepard also posted a copy to Twitter.

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This comes on the heels of two recent shootings that took place in Walmarts, one on July 30 in which a gunman killed two co-workers and wounded an officer in Southaven, Mississippi, and another on August 3 in which a gunman killed 22 people and wounded 24 in El Paso, Texas. In the wake of this, some politicians blamed video games. This included President Trump, who partially chalked the shootings—which also included an August 4 mass shooting outside a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio—up to “gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”

This stance ignores scholarship and statistics to the contrary while also failing to consider the pernicious ways in which video games and guns are related. The timing of Walmart’s memo, then, has raised some eyebrows.

“Does this mean gun displays in sporting goods are also going away or is this just nonsense,” asked one redditor in one response to an image of the memo.

“No,” another replied sarcastically, “because guns don’t kill people. God of War, Call of Duty, and Borderlands kills people.”

Others, however, have offered more tempered takes on Walmart’s supposed decision-making.

“They’re not taking that stuff down for those reasons,” said another poster in the same thread. “They’re just trying not to be insensitive after multiple mass shootings. Completely reasonable, albeit I don’t think it’s necessary. If some people are on edge when a balloon pops at your store, I’m sure some people would complain about such depictions of violence.”

But again, Walmart is still selling actual guns that can be used to inflict real-life violence, which seems like a more pressing matter no matter how you slice it. Increasingly, people are dissatisfied with Walmart’s decision to continue selling guns, most of which have been hunting rifles and shotguns since 2015. This includes some employees, two of whom, according to the Wall Street Journal, sent out a message on Monday to all e-commerce staff and the company-wide Slack channel calling for a general strike in protest of Walmart making money off gun sales.

Two others at the company’s corporate office in California called for a walkout, only to have their access to internal systems suspended over concerns that “there are more constructive ways for associates to offer feedback such as emails or conversations with leaders.”

In a Facebook post in the wake of the weekend’s mass shootings, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said that the company is a “learning organisation” that will “work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence.” However, a Walmart spokesperson told WSJ that there are “no plans at this time” to change policies around gun sales.


Comments

    With the left hand they deny mass shooting statistics are gun related... but with the right hand see mass shooting statistics and think they need to protect themselves and buy more guns.

    The shooting happened in there own store and still they wont remove guns cause they are profitable... they will remove games before guns cause of profit and diminished game sales and someone in Walmart HQ has probably already thought of shutting down game sales due to digital distribution.

    Yet they are still the largest seller of firearms in the US, well technically the world.

    Welp, better take down those Fire Emblem: Three Houses poster then because they have swords and weapons. Can't have Mario going around stomping on things, incinerating everything and throwing shells either. Link better not be waving around his sword anywhere either. Better hide Ultimate Smash too since it promotes fighting and violence.

    Personally I think it's a bit of an over-reaction but it's going to be interesting to see what they do because violence and aggression is in a lot of games in some form or another, especially in America. It's not just the games themselves either, there are plenty of stories about how games, especially Nintendo ones, have had their covers changed to make characters look more aggressive on them.

    So the answer is to take away any indication that parents may have to make an informed decision. Yeah .......

    'Take away those awful violent game posters and demos immediately ... leave the guns.'

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