Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just an Irish gamer

Immediately before all the controversy over gun control, there was major talks and debates over whether the mass shootings in America over the past 3-5 years were a byproduct of video game violence.
As an avid gamer since I was a young kid, I can officially tell you I don't find the logic behind the statement. Why? It's easy.
My brother, when I told him the government was trying to pass yet another law to prevent violent video games (if not video games overall) from being sold, let alone being put on shelves, he had a two-in-one response.
1. They won't be able to do it, not only because video games have one of the biggest and strongest fanbase industries in generations, but because they started using technology, in the first place, as a way to train soldiers in the army on how to shoot, react to situations, etc. They'd essentially have to also ban an effective method of training soldiers, especially those who've never used guns up to that point.
2. This one was more personal to both of us. We were both raised on video games, including violent ones. And, as kids, the most violent one we played is still, to this very day, on every list of top banned/controversial games list, is consistently at the very top of the list. We both played it frequently and turned out fine (don't look at me like that!). That game was Mortal Kombat. Known for its extreme, gratuitous, over-the-top hyperviolence, it was the reason a politician came up with the ESRB.
Granted, some people have psychological reasons that they shouldn't play games, the problem is that we would not know who they are unless they played a game.
Like in centuries past, when a person did something considered "strange" and were called "witch" out of ignorance and not looking into the evidence but, rather, going by personal bias, when mass shootings happen anywhere, or any other kind of shocking violence (and I have the sick feeling that, in due time, there will no longer be a thought of how "shocking" any kind of violence will be since we're getting desensitized), politicians immediately pipe up that it was because of violent video games, case closed, everyone back to your day job. If only life could be so easy, huh?
Not everyone who commits a crime has ever played a video game. A man stabbed another man over in Europe when a certain game was popular on the PS2, and when our government officials claimed the man just HAD to have had played the game, the man said, "I've never heard of Manhunt."
Can you say epic face palm moment?
Anyway, I'm not the only one who sees no logic in taking away violent video games from the shelves, as I saw an author, Bruce Hennigan, post a few articles on his site ( about his thoughts on the matter, including a response from his own gamer son (who's a little older than me) about the entire subject. It was well thought-out, balanced, provoking (in a very good way), and, if the government has its way in the future and reflects the book 1984, Bruce's son's response could either be considered invalid or just get taken down and he'd be forced to be quiet on the matter, anything just so the government can be made to look like it knows... "best"?
I admit, I do have a pretty bad temper at times, but it doesn't stem from playing violent games all my life (including the reboot Tomb Raider, the Dead Space series, the Assassin's Creed series, Gears of War, etc.), it actually comes from my Irish heritage, among other parts of my heritage. I do believe that even if I never once played a violent game, never watched anyone play a violent game, not even watched any video game walkthroughs on youtube, then I would still have this temper. Yes, it can be sharp (as some of my former co-workers at Wal-Mart in Alva can testify), but have I ever thought of gunning down the bullies at any of the schools I attended? Never once. If anything, I wondered what would happen if terrorists had tried to take over the school and I were stuck, not in a classroom, but in (get ready to laugh) the bathroom, having more free reign. I knew, even then, the mental scenarios were all implausible, but it was never about getting violent, it was about helping others (my schoolmates, even the ones that I couldn't stand with how much they picked on, ridiculed, and mocked me) survive.
That's something I look for in a game, no matter how family-friendly or violent. The positive aspects of the storyline.
Call of Duty series: no matter what tragedies happened, the good guys always looked for a contingency to save America. Yeah, a lot of headshots and explosions, but never a civilian to gun down (except in Modern Warfare 2, which the game allowed you the option to skip the entire level, and playing the level helped one understand all the angles of reasons behind the machinations of undercover warfare and foreign betrayals, but you don't have to play it if you felt like you'd be in the boots of a terrorist, something the news pundits seem to have purposely left out of their reports). In Black Ops 2, though it gets extremely graphic in both the past and the future, you do have important people to protect, and if they die at the hands of the enemies, it's game over, so you have to protect them, period.
Batman: Arkham series: Though the enemies may have guns and knives, make lewd comments about the women, and swear (nothing beyond PG-13 lingo, though), Batman doesn't use a single normal gun (just a shock gun that temporarily incapacitates an enemy), never kills, and doesn't use knives, and he's always trying to protect the innocent. In Arkham City, there's even an occasional side mission where you rescue "political prisoners" from being beaten up and killed by other inmates.
Sleeping Dogs: crippling moves, bone-breaking moves, heavy shoot-outs, a bloodied wedding, gang warfare, even fatal melee moves have nothing on the split-storyline of a man who's trying to be an undercover officer and get in with an old gang who believe above, all else, in respecting one another and having trust.
My brother has quite a collection of violent video games as well, yet some I would never have a copy of for my PS3 because they have no positive aspect in their storyline (biggest example, no reason to give society a reason to hope, only fame and fortune through very gratuitous means).
So, does violent video games cause people to commit extremely atrocious crimes? It depends on one's psychological status. If they know something has the potential to make them snap for whatever reason and they ignore that inner voice telling them they shouldn't play it, it's not the game developer's fault, not the video game industry's fault. It's the player's fault for not listening to inner caution. And to ban games is a sure way to take away games with a strong, solid hopeful storyline that transcends all the violence within.

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