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Get Over Gaming

I was browsing reddit earlier, and one of the links I found; for the life of me I can’t remember right now, was some sensationalist hype regarding violence in video gaming. Yes, I play games. And surprise surprise, I play ones that have acts of violence. Last I recall, I haven’t been influenced to perform acts of heinous violence because I enjoyed playing a bit of Grand Theft Auto if I was in a mood to just play a game where I can roam around and do as I please.

Well yes there are a few fools out there who decided to imitate games and got into a lot of trouble over it. I’ll name a few cases. The man who killed a taxi driver because he wanted to see how easy it was in Grand Theft Auto. The boy in America who shot his mother dead because she took away his copy of Halo 3.  Or one piece of evidence from the Virginia Tech massacre; that the killer copied his techniques from Counter-Strike.

What do these three games have in common? They involve firearms and the main focus is violence. This is true. But what else do they have in common? Popularity. Grand Theft Auto has always been controversial because it’s a game, more or less based around freedom in a city or suburban area, and your form of transport is typically stolen vehicles, especially because said vehicles are stolen by you, most usually through carjacking. Grand Theft Auto is pretty much the number one game cited by anti-gaming activists.

The Halo series is a great example of recent science-fiction, and is a very popular best-seller. In the game you play as an elite “Spartan” supersoldier commando, on the frontlines of a war between humankind and an alien race known as “The Covenant”. This game is a simple shooter, and is great fun in multi-player. But, because the game is ‘violent’, it is looked down upon.

Counter-Strike, again, a popular game based almost exclusively on multi-player gaming and is fought between Counter-Terrorist and Terrorist forces. This game is widely popular and is almost considered a staple in online games.

These games are called out quite often for the pure fact that they’re popular. If you want to argue against violent games, there are far worse out there. More graphic, more brutal, more precise. But they’re not popular, and hence, they’re not being cited.  Case in point; Manhunt. This game was so single-minded around murder I played it once before it was banned in Australia. Your weapons are average household items and the first thing you do in the game is vividly strangle someone with a plastic bag. Easy and simple to imitate. Why isn’t this game protested against?

These, for lack of a better word, lunatics, who kill people and get the gaming industry put under pressure from activist groups would have found a reason, or method, to kill someone anyway. It takes a very childish mindset to choose to imitate something just because you saw it on a game. But nevertheless it is done.

An often-cited fact is that violent crimes have been happening drastically less often since the release of Doom, one of the earlier games that had violence and gore. The people who kill someone and then cause games to be blamed would have found an excuse to kill someone anyway; whether road rage, social drama or a mental breakdown. All they did was found a quick and easy excuse with an acceptable scapegoat if they got caught.

People hiding behind the “protecting the children from violent games” ought to realize that there is a ratings system for a reason. If these so-called “parents” actually gave half a damn about this kind of thing happening, they’d pay attention to the kinds of games their children were playing. But no, they only complain after their precious, innocent eleven-year-old was so thoughtlessly corrupted by a game.

Games, even if they have violence, are not bad. If someone wants to protest about games having violence, they ought to complain about violence in films, books, music and every other form of media. Films portray far more violence than games, and often in a more graphic sense. Films also portray vivid drug use and gratuitous nudity and sex acts. But if a game goes so far as to have frontal nudity or even the medical usage of morphine, the game is censored and complained about.

Sex in games is a big issue, purely because of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas minigame known as Hot Coffee that basically offered an interactive softcore pornography scene. The content had to be unlocked using hacking tools. I can understand why this is a major issue, but it got blown out of purportion. You can find far more graphic interactive sex games on the internet; where you can easily fake your age and download with ease.

Seeing a car bounce from side-to-side in an act of consentual sex in a car is bad, even though there is little more than exceptionally fake occasional moaning, but Ving Rhames being bound, gagged and raped is acceptable? What kind of hypocracy is this?!

Games being addictive are another thing I hear a lot about, mostly from people who read about child neglect, typically spawned from World of WarCraft or other Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMORPG’s). To each their own, I say. Some people like to drink, some like to smoke. Every person has their vice, hobby or thing to do in their free time. And whether it’s solitaire, comics, pornography or video games, what does it matter what someone does with their free time?

Humans are creatures of habit, and there’s a reason people get hooked on video games; because they’re entertaining. If someone says they watched three films in a night, averaging between 4.5 and 7 hours, and someone else says they played games for an equally long length of time, who gets looked down upon? The game-player. I would rather play a game than watch a movie, because the games I play are either fun, online games with my friends, or long roleplaying games that have a powerful storyline that is the equal to any movie.

In short…stop the hypocracy, stop following the sensationalist stories that villify gaming and gamers, and if you’re a parent who protests against violent games, particularly if your child has done something stupid or been scarred by them, then do some real parenting and stop letting them have them in the first place!

Disclaimer: All game franchises and Pulp Fiction are copyrighted to their respective owners. I’d also like to apologize for using Pulp Fiction as an example. I love this film and think it’s brilliant, but it was an appropriate example.

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