Ok, since it's the 22nd December 2012 and the end of the world never happened, i'll write about this rather important topic. Important because i was involved in it from my early life days as well. And i'm quite sure many of you as well.
I'm quite sure everyone heard about the latest tragedy in Newtown (Connecticut, USA) where some messed up kiddo went all guns blazing in a junior school. It was a horrible tragedy, can't deny that but what bothers me the most is the connection they are trying to establish every single time between these shootings and video games.
Senator Jay Rockefeller posted a bill to make a connection between violence and video games, to prevent kids from playing violent games. You can read some more about this here
Now lets start with some plain and simple facts that he is looking for a turd where there is no foul smell...FACTS:Fact 1: Violence in connection with violent games
Why is USA the only country leading in the number of mass killings, yet entire world is playing the same games? The CoD, Battlefield, Soldier of Fortune and CounterStrike in other countries is the same as the one in USA. Except maybe in Germany where they often remove blood for some idiotic reason and replace it with cogs and screws. Robots have feelings too you know!? If there was any connection between violent games and these massacres, we would have seen them rather equally spread around the globe. I never heard of any excessive number of incidents from UK, Germany, France, Spain, China, Russia or any other country than USA in that matter. There were incidents like those in USA but they were rather isolated cases. And cases that existed way before any computer games even existed like you can read in the History lesson part... so the reasons behind these horrible acts have to be somewhere else and not in the violent games as such.Fact 2: Violent games don't really affect kids
Violent games don't make kids more violent. I played violent games since i was a small kid (Wolf3D, Doom, Alone in the Dark and later Soldier of Fortune as one of the bloodiest games ever made etc) and i turned out just fine. Maybe a bit shy and slightly asocial on occasions if you want it, but i'm a nice guy. If you don't even have the heart to kill a spider in your room and you instead pack it in a tiny box and toss it out from the house on a grass, you know you can't possibly harm another human being. In fact i find games a nice way to vent out the anger or any kind of frustrations. Nothing beats like crashing around with a car and drive over ppl in Carmageddon 2. Or shoot of peoples limbs in Soldier of Fortune. Or do idiotic speeding through town centers and wreck cop cars in Need for Speed. All this without any consequences in real life. Or kill humans and pee all over their corpses in Postal 2. But then i turn of a computer and continue with my regular real life. It's how 99,99% of normal ppl take games. This failed myth is again busted.Fact 3: Games encourage violence but movies don't!?
I don't understand how they always make connections between these massacres and games, but never between massacres and violent movies. Why only games? Why games have some idiotic ratings but for movies, you can watch violent movies on TV all day long, for free and without any supervision because you don't have to buy them like games, they are just there in the reach of a remote controller.
What makes all the otherwise classic movies like Rambo less violence encouraging compared to games? If they are trying to blame interactive nature of the games, it's in my opinion as a someone that has been 20 years into gaming, a complete BS. Sure it's better to have control over something compared to just watching it, like you can in movies but in that case, movies would make individuals want to do the killing even more because they'd lack the "control" part in the movies, a part where they have no control over the stuff that's happening. You fill in that gap in the games because you can on your own decide who and how you will shoot someone or change the course of the events. And i think the control part is what most of these killers were after. So, the games can't be guilty for this because they do offer the control part. They would have no need for doing it in real life because it's already available in the game itself. At least that's how i look at the situation where games do offer me a greater satisfactions and experience compared to even the best movies. Mostly because the interactive part gives you a sensation of being actually there, a part of the story. But since i'm mentally stable, i know what is real and what isn't so all this doesn't affect my real life at all. It's just a source of entertainment, no different than listening to music, playing football/basketball or watching comedy shows.Fact 4: Mental instability by default
This one actually connects to the "Fact 2". Games don't really affect mentally stable ppl because they can perfectly well separate fiction from real world. I know that the game is a virtual thing despite of all the super realistic graphics and gore we can experience in them. I know that killing humans in games is ok because i'm just killing some bits and bytes. But i also know that killing humans in real life is something you shouldn't do because that person will not just magically respawn like in games.
And to make it clear, massive majority of gamers in USA are well aware of this fact as well. It's the few mentally unstable individuals that make all the gamers look bad in the eyes of regular observers. If this madness continues, ppl will be afraid of admitting they play games because others will automatically tag them as freaks. Not that they already do that... What's wrong if you're, i don't know, 30 years old and still play games!? Ppl play football as well in their 30's and no one considers that as childish. So what gives!? To get back to the fact itself, games don't encourage normal ppl into anything. But if someone is mentally ill, no one can really know what will make that final "click" in the head of such person. Sure, it can be a game as well, but it can just as well be a movie or some bullies that were harassing the kid his entire time in school or just a fart he didn't want to smell from the kid sitting next to him. There are millions of factors that can push one to the edge and beyond. But they make it look like games are the only factor. I call this BS and declare this busted again.Fact 5: Kids play games
Every time they try to establish connection between games and violence in these massacres, they always seem to make games look like they are being played only by freak kids who will most likely next day go to school and kill all of their school mates. But the fact is, all kids play games these days. We are in the digital era which is heavily govern by computers, realistic graphics and incredible levels of interactivity no one would imagine when the gaming industry started back in the late 70's (commercially and wide). So finding one that hasn't played at least one violent game is pretty much impossible. Even the cartoonish and cute Rayman that i've bought on GOG for my cousins has a form of violence where you beat the opponents using hands. And there was also violence in Pac Man. And Atomic Bomberman... All the games that many consider as fun and cute for the little kids. Apparently we are all turning our youth into mass murderers without knowing it. Or at least that's what they seem to be trying to make us believe...Fact 6: Why gaming industry doesn't protest against such claims!?
When ppl accused weapons industry as the cause for these mass killings, weapons industry quickly jumped up. Guns lobby is very strong in USA and i sort of understand why they don't want to hear such nonsense. But then again i wonder why gaming industry doesn't do the same. Apparently their lobby isn't as strong. But that still shouldn't stop the gaming industry giants like EA, Valve, Activision and so on from saying their part. I mean, franchises like Battlefield, Call of Duty, Half-Life and Counter Strike bring in hundreds of millions of income to these software giants. Why don't they show the world that violent games are perfectly ok!? It seems like they don't care. But ever time i hear TV reporters say "the games were probably the reason" it makes me want to go there and smack them one in the face. They badmouth one massive and rather important industry in the world with no real facts or connections. And gaming industry just doesn't seem to care. WHY!? Have some balls and say something.Fact 7: History lesson
No matter how hard they are trying to convince us that games are the reason for these massacres, history tells us a different story. And here are again FACTS:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rampage_killers
See the years of the mass murders? The first documented happened in Indonesia back in year 1879. Now, can please someone intelligent enough please tell me what game this person was playing back in year 1879? The computer as we know it today hasn't been invented yet and the only way to play with a computer was to chuck balls around on an abacus really. Computers and games for them became commercially available around the second part of the 19th century and even then they were mostly accessible to intelligent ppl who had knowledge and money to access such advanced machinery for personal usage. And they were nowhere near the complexity and realism of today's games like first person shooters. So how on Earth were the games possibly the reason for such acts when the games as such haven't even existed!?
Don't tell me that Hitler was playing too much of Command&Conquer:Red Alert and Call of Duty back in 1939...Fact 8: Access to weapons
It's a well know fact that USA has the most weapons per citizen in the world. What that opens up is also the rather easy access to the weapons. I never heard of any massacre like the latest one where i'd catch on the news that the killer obtained weapons from a black market or buying them legally in the weapons store just before committing the massacre. It was always a weapon that has already been in the possession of the person for a very long time. Or in a possession of one of his relatives (preferably a closer circle of relatives). Now, that doesn't mean anything bad by default, but it does call for responsibility from the ppl who own weapons. You can't just have them laying around unsupervised. If i had a gun at home i'd probably have it locked in a safe and kept the code strictly to myself and my wife. With no way of kids accessing it. But apparently most ppl in USA keep them laying around next to a loaf of bread and milk... So, if i take myself as an example, if i'd (as a kid) want to commit a mass murder on a school, i'd be having a very hard time finding a gun to use. Especially if you're just a kid. I don't think even a guns dealer on a black market (which does exist since there are a lot of weapons available from the Balkan wars) would hand you over one, at least not without handing over enough cash. Which kids usually don't have access to either. Only gun that i had access to as a kid was the air powered rifle that's shooting lead pellets. And it wasn't what Americans call "BB gun". It was a manual air compression rifle using a lever and the bullets didn't look like ball bearing but are called "air gun pellets". Such rifle is not lethal at any range for human beings and it simply reloads way too slowly for any level of combat. At worst, someone can lose an eye because of it, but i don't think it would kill anyone.
And the second thing here in our country is that in order to legally buy a weapon, you have to go through procedure where they check your mental state. If you're mentally unstable person, you just won't be able to buy a firearm. And after you get checked up you have to perform a weapons training so you get a weapons license which then gives you ability to purchase a weapon. And as far as i know this license also involves several levels of access. You can for example only buy a long range rifle if you're a licensed huntsman. Police and security officers usually have only work sidearm which they don't have access to in private life. So, while this system isn't flawless it certainly heavily limits the access to firearms and as such limits impulsive kids from killing their parents and half of their school.Bottom line
While i cannot deny that games can be a factor for someone to commit such horrible acts against other human beings, it's only 1 possible factor among several thousand of factors that can push a mentally unstable person over the edge. And these factors can range from perfectly ordinary things in life like queuing in line on a post office or up to some frustrated poor kid who is getting bullied at school day after day and wants to make a payback to everyone around him. I've seen many ppl tip over during normal checkout in shops because they had to bloody wait 1 freakin minute longer than they usually would. And they make a scene like there is no tomorrow. And if such already unstable person owns a gun, you can't possibly know what he will do. In fact such person owning a knife at that very moment can lead to a tragic outcome. Or he can just as well use the fists and shoes to beat someone down to death. You just cannot possibly know how they'll behave. And all this can boil down to things we might never understand for real. But we can safely say that we just cannot blame games as the universal seed of all the evil going on in the world. In fact, games can be (at least to mentally stable ppl) a fine source of knowledge. Most of games offer puzzles to solve in many different forms which encourage players to think, they can enhance reflexes and levels of perception, mental and visual, the can teach you languages. I learned a lot of the English language from the games since you need active knowledge of it in order to progress through games. And that was in games like The Elder Scrolls series where you beat the crap out of humanoids and monsters with axes and hammers all day long. And System Shock 2 where you shoot at things a large portion of the game. But you also have to listen to audio logs from NPC's (Non Player Characters) a lot and read written logs laying all over the game world levels. Or lets don't forget game physics that are a large part of the games lately. Even tossing a grenade in CounterStrike:Source requires basic knowledge of physics and some thinking if you want to toss the grenade around a corner exactly where you want it. Why no one ever points these positive things about even violent games? They are always loud only when it comes to negative ones. Why? Don't be such dorks and learn the facts first before you go accusing violent games as the ultimate source of all the evil in our world. Because they just aren't.
If you're a reporter or a news editor, just say no if anyone wants you to publish such nonsense about violent games, because it's not based on any facts. Instead point them to this blog entry and educate them a bit. As someone with over 20 years of first hand experience with violent games and how computer games positively shaped my life, i have every right to defend them.
And here is also a very important video from Youtube that basically summarizes everything that i said plus much more. I suggest you all watch it and think a bit what is really wrong. The guy narrating it really got it right.LINK:http://youtu.be/5uwAo8lcAC4For some reason video embedding doesn't want to work here so clicky the video linky above...