Monday, February 4, 2013

Violence, Idiocy, and Political Posturing or Why Be Calm and Reasonable When You Can Rant and Rave Like a Madman?

Okay, before I get this shit storm rolling if you're here (which is remarkable in and of itself) for the fiction then feel free to skip this post.  This is going to be a rant about the most recent wave of "Video Games are the Devil!  Ban them!  For the children!!" bullshit that has swept the nation.  Oh and spoiler, I think it's bullshit of the highest order.  I generally try to keep a level head about things in life.  I find the world to be a pretty stupid place and I'm a pretty animated human being so if I were to let myself get wound up over every single thing that irked me I would have surely turned into some sort of mythological spirit of rage by now and murdered dozens of people.  This recent round of condemnation of video games has struck me in such a way that I just can't ignore it.  For one, I'm a gamer.  I'm a gamer with some issues, but all-in-all I'm pretty damn well adjusted and healthy considering the state of the world.  I play violent video games.  I play violent video games and guess how many people I have shot because of that fact?  Hint, the answer's zero.  Secondly, I hate a system that allows and encourages those in power to exploit both the system and the people that put them in place.  It goes hand-in-hand with my problem with bullies, it's just wrong.

Okay.  Before I go any further let me post a link to the original...incident...that so thoroughly inflamed my delicate sensibilities.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  "I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people."

Really?  REALLY?!  Because if someone shoots you in the face with a gun, you're clearly not going to be affected.  Good call, dipshit.  Video games do not lead to violence and there have been zero proper experiments proving otherwise.  The closest anyone has come is to suggest a correlation, but the problem with correlation is that it is wholly inferior to experimentation because it does not PROVE anything.  It suggests the presence of a link, but it does not specify what kind of link.  It does not, cannot, determine whether video games cause people to become violent or if violent people are simply attracted to video games and anti-video game groups spin that correlation in their favor.  The amount of frustration this witch hunt has induced in me is incredible.  People are afraid of the levels of violence in this nation and this is an amazingly irresponsible amount of scapegoating that does nothing to benefit the people who are actually at risk.  What it does is guarantees that the real issue will not be addressed.  Why talk about something truly dangerous or truly challenging when you can just point the finger at an easy target and earn instant brownie points with those people that have been victimized by acts of violence?

And on a special note particular to this specific Senator, he's the most miserable kind of idiot crusader.  If he honestly believes what he says, he's not willing to commit to it.  He claims that nothing will ever come of it because of the 1st and 2nd Amendment (as if those are such awful things), so that he never has to truly put himself out there.  It appeases the anti-game crowd by saying "Games are evil!" without alienating the people that are on the fence because he will never have to actually take action. 

And now, to make the point that I have stood by since this whole thing began:  The world is not ending because video games depict violence.  The world did not end because children listened to rock 'n roll or punk-rock.  The world did not end when children read comic books.  The world did not end because someone put an eraser on their pencil (yeah, people freaked the fuck out over this one too).  This is just another fad.  People are looking for something to blame.  Politicians are jumping on the bandwagon because it will get them attention.

One final note, a point that is almost entirely ignored by those that publicly denounce violent video games.  A great many people claim that this violent material is geared toward children because it's in video game form.  This is either complete and utter ignorance of the medium or an unwillingness to accept the facts that do not actively strengthen their case.  Video games that are rated "E" are meant for children ages ten and up, "T" ratings are for teenagers (age thirteen and up), "M" ratings are for people ages 17 and older, and the rarely seen AO rating is for adults ages 21 and older.  These are very clearly laid out.  The system is quite transparent and is rather strictly enforced by retailers.  A Best Buy that I frequented in Columbia, Missouri was going to run a Halo: Reach tournament for the midnight release of the game.  Two people were not properly carded before they signed up and were too young for the Mature ("M") rated game.  Best Buy cancelled the whole tournament because of that.  Someone I went to school with got fired because they sold M-rated games to minors on more than one occasion.  So, how then does this violent content get into the hands of children?  There are a couple ways.  They could have a fake ID.  This is the same thing as a minor buying alcohol with a fake ID, it's not the alcohol's fault that some fourteen year-old is drunk and few people blame the existence of alcohol for such an occurrence.  Their parent could have bought them the video game in which case their legal guardian consented to the purchase the same way their parent can consent to let their child watch an R-rated movie.  Once again, most reasonable people won't blame R-rated movies because their twelve year-old kid saw a nipple in a movie they were legally admitted into the theater.  So why then do some parents think that because the inappropriate content comes in video game form that they are somehow not responsible for their children being exposed?

And now, having spent far too much time responding to a ridiculous claim I'm going to wrap this up.

For those of you who connected with any of this article, make sure you stand up and make your voice heard.  For those of you who I offended, sorry we don't see eye-to-eye on this one.  And for those of you who skipped this article entirely; don't worry, this isn't going to become a regular thing.