A Slight Overreaction

KWTF News

It was in the news a few weeks back that, upon further analysis, there were in fact references to Doom in the notebooks of the two students who were responsible for the Columbine Massacre. The media seemed to accept this as ‘Veritas Lux Mea’ and that this was the final proof needed to complete another of their sinister pyramid diagrams. The issue here, as smart gamers around the world continue to point out, is much larger then Doom. If I were to commit atrocious acts and, years later amidst my den of pornographic magazines in brail (because I’m just that sick), the authorities were to find the above sketches, perhaps Mason Dixon would be brought in for questioning. I will admit that this scenario is a bit of a stretch, but looking to a videogame for justification of what has been deemed a Massacre seems much like looking up a cow’s ass to find out where milk comes from.

Whether or not the efforts were bolstered by the discovery of the student’s notes, there are still tons of legislations being proposed daily to regulate/tax/prevent the creation of violent or otherwise explicit videogames. The problem here is that most of the legislation is being proposed to prevent minors from purchasing and playing these games that have already been deemed unsuitable for their kind. Gamers, a rather vocal lot, are automatically shooting back that justice is served when these bills are denied due to lack of evidence and first ammendment rights. This way lies not sanity! The game industry has already set up the ESRB, which expressly expresses the expression that certain games are downright retard-inducing in children of certain ages. They may have lacked in the enforcement and advertising, but any jurisdiction passed in the vain of getting minors away from excessive sex and violence should really be common sense. Don’t fight these proposal with tooth and blog, instead divert your attention towards the proposed taxes on these games that could effect -everyone- who buys them. The (lack of) logic there is that if these things are bad for children, but they are getting them anyway, we should penalize anyone who buys them and therefore discourage the consumption of these products. The next step would most likely be preventing the production of these games entirely, which we can see from other examples works like a charm. Weed is downright illegal, can’t you tell?

To understand the nature of the problems here, we have to delve deeper into the root of Humanity. That’s humanity with a capital H, meaning not just the idiotic whole that it becomes when white Americans decide to call the shots, but every human being in the expanse of history. You can easily relate a videogame which features violence to a movie with the same elements, which proves that it’s not just a flook of the medium because we enjoyed people die long before GTA existed. In fact, you may have heard of an ancient building which directly mirrors these trends, it’s called the Flavian Amphitheatre (Collosseum) and men used to go there to watch other men die way back in the 1st century AD. The trend is that when a culture reaches a certain point of “sophistication” it becomes an increasingly larger commodity to witness or even experience violence.

The inherent reasons we crave blood and gore are because we have been completely robbed of these things in our lives. We are no longer allowed to hunt for our food, and upon catching it remove the skin and eventually reach the precious meats that linger within. Unless of course you’re a vegitarian, at which point you can only be satiated by plants that bleed, and that’s just creepy. Much can be learned about man by looking at him in his primitive, raw state before high society had a chance to take hold.

Intermission: Some sleep occured, followed by sleeping in, and then upon a late morning drive to work my car began to argue against its lifelong enslavement. Thankfully it only ceased motion a mere 3 feet after entering the parking lot at my work.

The common argument these days has been ingrained into our minds from ages such as the 60′s and 70′s, they are no longer as prominent but the feelings are still present. Being nice to animals is of supreme importance, to the bizarre extent as to avoid eating them entirely as opposed to simply regulating where one eats their meats and how said meat is treated in its short lifetime. Everyone should be all friendly and lovey-dovey to all other humans all the time and if terrorists attack your friends your sole retaliation should be flinging lovely smelling flowers at them while dancing about like a fearie. The facts are that all human beings have a latent desire, reaction, feeling, and urge to defend themselves. It comes through in every aspect of our lives every single second, our gut reactions and split second decisions are typically based upon similar basic priniciples. From this inclination to defend ourselves comes the human gravitation towards violence, if someone has wronged you the most satisfying reaction is to hurt them. (Not necessarily the legal, moral, or humanitarian thing to do, but still the most satisfying.) Human beings have a natural bent towards violence, death, and destruction that is often denied, avoided, or beaten down in individuals. It is an acknowledgement of this that we love so dearly out depictions of violence, they are definitely a far safer way for one to experience such things as opposed to going out and trying them first hand. This is a simple rationalization for violent videogames, it does not mean that all violent videogames are good for you or that they are all worth playing or even making, but that they should not be removed out right.

Even lately a game that features killing in the name of God has come under fire, because it is a Christian oriented game that still features death and destruction. Negative reactions to these types of games are downright denials of our very human nature. Having read in a little more detail some of the exact court documents that Jack Thompson prepares for his cases, he is obviously in the business of deception. He can be directly quoted as referring to the Grand Theft Auto games as “cop-killing simulators”, which to the un-educated or unweary presents an image of an instruction booklet that reads: 1. Find Cops 2. Kill Cops 3. Go to Jail for a Long Time 4. Get Raped in Jail 5. Locate NPC <50 Cent> to acquire more Training A more accurate (read: honest) description would be that the GTA games are more of “Human-killing and Driving Stories”. By juxtaposition you can assume that good old boy Mr. Thompson feels it is wrong to have a game where you kill Cops, but that it is less wrong to have a game where you kill anyone else on the street and their prostitute. A solid case can be made for this thinking, but that isn’t what is being presented, and the misrepresentation is where the issue lies. His argument should stem more from the fact that Doom is a “Demon-killing Simulation” and that there are people in the world who think they fight Demons. If you cannot get what you want without decieving someone, then it is a clear indication that what you want is not entirely just.

Many of my finer points have been lost in the makeshift writing of the post, but I think the requirements for discussion are present and that is enough for now. Needless to say, I strongly feel that placing blame upon games like Doom is only a piecemeal attempt at solving a much larger problem. I know that I’m not alone in this thinking, but I felt that it all could bear repeating.

Appendix A: Everyone must agree that the state looks a hell of a lot like a freakin’ gun!

Comments

  1. It DOES look like a gun. Now they don’t even need to blame doodles in a notebook, the fact that it’s shaped like a gun is reason enough for it’s citizens being crazy.

    I feel bad for the crab, though.

  2. Guns don’t kill stick people…Marylanders kill stick people.

    Unfortunately, “sick” (for whatever definition you want to apply to that) people do many of the things that “normal” (ibid) people do, including playing video games. Harris and Kliebold also liked to bowl, but it got narry a nod from the press. Go figure. I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion, but I do agree that we as a “civilized” people are too coddled and protected, insulated from those oh-so harmful things like sex and violence.

  3. Forget Maryland, we need to go after this “dchalk1″ guy.

    This is a pretty complicated issue, that I feel that most people who make our laws and regulate are very out of touch with. It has become a political “moral” issue with, unfortunatly, politicians on both sides of the aisle.

    One interesting article from Slashdot lately:
    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/27/1728251
    which links to article that talks about an ESRB study that showed Pacman was “64% violent.”

    Also a piece on the Daily Show that shows how out of touch Congress is (though admittedly, the Daily Show has a certain slant):

    I’m not sure I’d say that we crave simulated blood & gore because we’re missing it in real life (We know of at least one real-life Soldier who loves shooting Orcs with a Blunderbuss!) but we do crave Escapism, especially ones that can provide an adreniline response. I think “desensitizing” is a myth, and I’d much rather people use games to escape then do something in real life. I think the people who act out violently don’t do it because of video games, but because they were violent in the first place, and so sought out violent games.

  4. Amber: Indeed. A firm conclusion is something which I have had a lot of issues with coming to, in the end I take a more romantic approach that the larger issues can be solved if only we stop focusing on the miscellaneous clutter that is more easily targeted.

    And I bet they did a sketch of killing someone with a bowling ball too, but I didn’t hear anything about that…

    The Game:  It is less of a person to person concept then a humanity as a whole thing.  We create movies and videogames, and as consumers eat them up, because in general we are removed from the kinds of acts that I listed.   Even for one like DesertDwarf/Drackmire who is in the army, he is exposed to these kinds of things on a far different level then a group of people who has to hunt and kill their own food every single day, or fight for their own survival their entire lives against the weather, animals, and natural threats.  Oddly enough natural disasters are one of the few things that still have a huge impact on humanity even through all of our sophistication.  Perhaps they are the great equalizer that balances out life as it should be, or maybe we’re just not quite sophisticated enough!  Who’s to say?

  5. Speaking of craving violence, did anyone see Hostel? See, I agree with Danny 100% on the videogame issue, but that movie made my skin crawl. Not in terror, but in its over-the-top pornographic look at violence. It was senseless, without a message, and basically a splatter-film that ultraviolent obsessed crazies probably jerk off over.

    Ultra-violence and other ‘extreme’ issues (pornography I suppose) are really a “I know it when I see it*” issue. The problem is that a democracy of our size is really poorly equipped handle thousands of these kind of decisions a year.

    * – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potter_Stewart

  6. I actually refused to watch Hostel based purely on the fact that the previews alone disgusted me. Even with extremes like ultra-violence and pornography, it isn’t that they should not be made it is just a regulation on who should be allowed to watch them.

    There are, right now, tons of people around you who feel deep inside themselves that censorship of ANY kind is wrong, what do you think of that? At that point I feel the desensitizing exists, if a 4 year old child were allowed to watch Hostel, it could cause irrepairible damage.

  7. Again, it’s a complex issue, and none of us are qualified psychologists. However, from my point of view:

    I don’t believe “desensitizing” is a medical phoenomenon. I don’t think a random 4 year old watching Hostel will think “Well, that’s all ok then, is it?” BIG HOWEVER- it’s all in context. If the parents have raised said 4 year old to accept violence as ok, it’ll probably fill in some gaps for them (very bad.) And if instead the parents have said that violence is wrong, the child will probably have a pretty strong reaction to it that could cause some damage. For me, it’s all about the environment in which you were raised, and genetics (which have a pretty big role but are much harder to pinpoint.)

    (Disclaimer: I have not seen Hostel, but I would be surprised if it goes miles farther than anything else I’ve ever seen.)

    All that said, I am not against censorship in every form. But I think the people making the decisions are making faulty conclusions based on flawed science and traditions. It all comes together to place unfair limits on creative expression, which I have big problems with.

    As many of you know, I grew up attending science fiction conventions, which led to early exposure to a variety of normally tabooed subjects like nudity, sex, violence, and alternative lifestyles… so I tend to have a less of a problem with such things and think that anyone could be the same.

    And I turned out fine, right guys? Guys?

  8. joshx0rfz says:

    Jack Thompson (and most of the anti-gaming advocates) argument revolves around the idea that the games encourage unlawful behaviour. While killing drug dealers and such is wrong, killing those whose job it is to protect others is generally perceived as particularly abhorrent. That is why they focus on that, they aren’t making any judgement that one life is more valuable then another. They are making their point the strongest way possible, unfortunately alot of things get lost when using alot of force.

    Your point about us craving violence because we have been robbed of it is a bit ridiculous. There are plenty of people who go through life (in developed countries) with minimal conflict. I find it very unlikely a relatively peaceful society breeds repressed tinderboxes. You make the peace sound like a bad thing. Much can be learned about man by looking at him as an animal but much more can be learned when you look at him as an animal and something much more.

    Not sure I made that last point very well but just the idea that a lack of violent outlets is creating violent people just doesn’t make any sense.

  9. I think it is far more likely that “Hostel” would scare the shibbies out of a four year old. That poor kid would pee his pants for weeks!

  10. Joshx0rfz: You seem to have missed my point, it is not that our lack of violence in life creates “tinderboxes” who are ready to go off at any moment. My thoughts are that we create violent media (music, movies, games, etc.) and we CONSUME this media at a large rate because we have been removed from a lot of the violence and blood that comes naturally with living (as a primitive being). You can be a very calm, passive person and still enjoy seeing a movie with a lot of action and explosions in it, which again gets back to The Game’s discussion of escapism.

    It seems my main points may have been poorly expressed in the end, so I’ll restate them very briefly: Our society (the world in general) has developed to remove the common person from all of the violence that is inherent with primitive existence. A result of this is that we love fictional representations of harsher lifestyles: blood, guts, gore, death, violence, all that fun stuff!

    This is not a generalization that all of us are repressed ultra-violence addicts and are about to explode someday (though a few undoubtedly are) it is just an examination of WHY we have come to create videogames which so strongly feature violence, and WHY they are so incredibly popular. I hope I have made my ideas a bit more clear now.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I’ll leave #1 up to you guys, but as for #2, it’s a very tough call. I really enjoyed Bartoneus’s Random Encounter where the state of MD is banned from the Union because it looks like a gun. (For the record, our most commented post was also by Bartoneus discussing this year’s E3, when we didn’t know that it would be the last “real” E3) [...]

  2. [...] games. Personally, my favorite genre is the horror venue, and while I’m aware of the whole video-games and violence issue, I will just state that I enjoy violent games and leave that issue for another discussion. I was [...]

  3. [...] we have touched on the subject of video game violence before, especially how it seems to be blamed for all of society’s ills, this recent spate seems to represent a pretty major shift in any progress that was being made [...]