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First off, if you don’t want to read a rant about how stupid people are when it comes to their views on computer games being the root of all evil, back away now.
I often post about this kind of thing. I get so angry at idiots who seem to blame computer games for everything. The latest thing I have read that made my blood boil is all of the nonsense about the Foxnews.com editorial about Epics Bulletstorm. It was basically a very one sided item titled “Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?” (Nothing like a provocative title!) This is the kind of crap I would expect from the likes of the Daily Mail, but not a well respected media giant like Fox. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/02/08/bulletstorm-worst-game-kids/
I reccomend you head off to read that in a moment. The upshot is that Fox got a group of experts together to rip Bulletstorm to pieces. They complained about everything from the explicit language and violence to the naming system that is used for achievements. Gang Bang and Topless are used as the examples. Now forgive me, but I find very little erotic about cutting an alien in half – the event that leads to the “Topless” achievement. But hey, to each his own.
What surprised me was the angle that Fox went for. Rather than going for the obvious and often used principle that video games cause violence, they went one further. They got an expert psychologist (Carole Lieberman) to explain that video games can be directly linked to an increase in rapes. Holy shit, I didn’t see that coming!
So, how does this make a gamer such as myself feel. Pretty angry and not just a little sad.
I have played games for something like 27 years, since I was 4 or 5. However I have neither raped, killed, abused, hurt or in any way upset another human being as a result of my gaming. I have played all sorts of games from cute fluffy platformers to Grand Theft Auto to the disturbingly violent Manhunt. But none of them have made me want to take the fantasy world into the real world.
All of this got me to thinking. Why? Why am I not a violent axe murderer. I was an akward teen, who did not make friends easily. I was a geek (am a geek) who spent a huge amount of time playing very violent games. Yet here I am, a very sensible and well adjusted member of society.
Well, for one thing I am not mental. I have been taught very well by my parents what is right and wrong. They gave me a framework for how to live my life. They showed me the difference between fantasy and reality.
When I stop playing a game, I know that the game has now finished and it is time for me to be a 33 year old, married dad of one web developing, socially responsible member of society once more.
The sad truth is, people need something to blame for the wrongs in the world and explain things that they do not understand. Throughout history people have tried to destroy these things. They have blamed religion, colour, books, music, films, TV and now video games. I have to wonder what will be next.
These games are not meant for kids, in the same was as films that have 18 written on them are not meant for kids. But, that didn’t stop me from seeing Predator when I was about 10. It is the same for games. Kids will play them if they get the chance. You can fine vendors, you can sue the producers of the games, but you can not stop children playing this kind of thing.
It is up to parents and society as a whole to use the information available to them about games and to educate our children about what they may be exposed to. For some this will mean trying to shield them from it entirely, which may work. For others they will understand that children will play these games whether they want them to or not. They understand that they will have to give their children this all important framework that will help them to understand what is real and what is fantasy, what is right and what is wrong.
To blame games or films or books or anything else for the wrongs of the world is just lazy. Foxnews should be ashamed. Especially when you realise that they did actually had a balanced second opinion that they chose to not use! (http://www.industrygamers.com/news/what-fox-news-didnt-use-in-its-bulletstorm-smear-piece/)
Got to say though, I have a bit of a cold. I wonder if that proves that video games are the cause of the common cold?