Grand Theft Auto company boss joins #VideogamesAreNotToBlame trend after El Paso, Dayton mass shootings

The CEO of the company that publishes the Grand Theft Auto series has hit out at claims by Donald Trump and others that violent video games are to blame for mass shootings.

In the wake of the attacks in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the US president and former Celebrity Apprentice host joined other Republican politicians in blaming games and mental illness, rather than the killers' access to powerful, military-style firearms.

Strauss Zelnick, head of Take-Two Interactive - the company behind the notoriously violent Grand Theft Auto games - says the accusations are "irresponsible" and "disrespectful to the victims".

"We're just sickened and saddened by these senseless tragedies. That said, blaming entertainment is irresponsible," Zelnick told financial news publication Barron's.

"Moreover, it is highly disrespectful to the victims and their families. The fact is entertainment is consumed worldwide...but gun violence is uniquely American. So we need to address the real issues."

On Twitter, the hashtag #VideogamesAreNotToBlame quickly began to trend in the US following the accusations by Trump and other Republicans.

Among the messages posted about the issue were several highlighting facts and studies that appear to prove the allegations wrong, along with observations that some Trump-loving and Trump-hating gamers were united in rejecting the anti-gaming rhetoric.