Ban Everything You Don’t Like
I lived in England for a while. Over there there’s this implicit understanding that all politicians are selfish and corrupt and that any time spent watching them babble on TV is only to laugh at them and think to oneself, “What kind of moron would trust this lying scumbag?” One of the greedy cretins will win the election, but no one in the country is satisfied at the results, and with good reason, because their fears are invariably proven correct. No one in Great Britain likes the monarchy either; that bunch of inbred fusspots can go piss up a flagpole and leave the common people to sacrifice virgins to the idol of the national religion, Almighty Football. Or maybe Celebrity Gossip.
But here in the United States, we still love these egocentric buffoons. We trust the people who openly declare that they want to hold power over the rest of us, never mind that the majority of them will abuse it. We keep doing the same thing and not only expecting different results but rewrite history to pretend that previous results were actually beneficial.
And when some madman kills some children, we (both politicians and us real people) don’t even stop mourning long enough to blame the usual patsies. Video games, music, and weapons. I’m not going to discuss the latter because I don’t want to lose half of my readership, but the former is something I actually know things about. No one’s going to ban video games, but restrictions are certainly possible. Australia and New Zealand have pretty stupid restrictive censorship laws on video games. And you still can’t legally get Wolfenstein 3-D in Germany for fairly obvious reasons.
“Obama calls for research into impact of violent videogames – no mention of Movies or TV” because new media are evil. Movies and television make money for the ludicrously powerful MPAA and Obama probably fears them because the MPAA is headed by former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd (not that a Repub president would care about such piddly trifles as censorship). And besides, old people would disagree with going after TV/Movies. They understand those. Video games are still, to them, a new and foreign evil, something to be feared and despised. Television and movies are too integrated into our society now. Video games are, too, technically, but there are still a surprising number of people out there who think of them as newfangled toys that promote all manner of bad behavior. They’ve been a favorite target of religious zealots, political pundits, and other scaremongers ever since their creation. (Dungeons & Dragons had the same stigma in the 1980s, but that died out once people realized there has never once been a case of satanic ritual abuse ever.)
If you thought Obama was beyond such finger-pointing because he’s the youngest and geekiest president we’ve ever had, you have far more faith in politicians than any reasonable person should. Image always triumphs over the truth when it comes to public discourse. Just like how George W. Bush was a good old-fashioned down-to-earth hayseed and not the spawn of a billionaire crime family that bought his way into office.
What does Washington expect will result from this witch hunt, anyway? The same thing happened after Columbine, and I don’t remember anything actually happening in the end. Well, unless you count id Software and Marilyn Manson making more money. If anything, this kind of thing will make people want violent video games more. They’re merely talking about gun bans, and gun sales have rocketed to never before seen levels. The same thing would happen with violent video games. Whatever Call of Duty game gets released in the autumn will break a bunch of more records again, especially if Washington declares that video games are bad for your health.
Cold, Dead, Flabby Hands
Even in oppressive police states like China and Iran they can’t ban video games entirely, so there’s no chance of it happening in relatively free America. But it is possible for new laws to be passed that transform M-rated games (usually the best-selling ones) into dangerous contraband that can only be legally used by adults. Just like with the ridiculous music stickers on the late 1980s, this would increase demand and place more strain on our already-overworked and inefficient legal and penal systems, but it makes for a good campaign ad, doesn’t it? Tough on crime. Tough on “violent” “rap” “music”. Tough on violent video games. Xeroxed Politician #786603 cares about the well-being of your children. Just like all the other ones that came before him.
The only way to be made president of the United States with the current system is from interest groups or political action committees giving you money for your campaign. And if you don’t support rigorous copyright law, you lose the entire backing of the movie and music industries, which is something like 50% of consumer industry. Video game companies are certainly capable of stupidity and evil, but they’ve so far proven themselves to be far more reasonable than the Music And Film Industries of America, and within a decade they may be attractive enough to politicians to form new alliances. Not that it’s likely anything good will happen to us lower-middle-class peons, but that’s beside the point.
When the baby boomers all die out and our current swathe of politicians is replaced with slightly less idiotic Gen-Xers, maybe one day we’ll have a president who admits he plays violent video games and pirates music and that no one should feel bad about it. We made Prohibition bootleggers our politicians after all. Maybe it is ridiculous that the “new” form of media (which is over 50 years old at this point and has been in the public consciousness for around 35 years) is scapegoated whenever some sick bastard decides to shoot some innocent children rather than looking at America’s horrible poverty and imprisonment rates.
Shut Up You Whiny Baby, No One Is Going To Take Your Murder Simulators
Am I being overly defensive about my favorite hobby? Sure. But it’s also true that the majority of attacks against video gaming are unfair criticisms designed to attract more votes for statist politicians rather than being founded in more rational arguments such as claiming that games are gigantic wastes of time and money or cause thumb cancer.
Internet tough guy and reasonable person Jim Sterling compared the phony violence of video games to the actual violence of disgraced politician Budd Dwyer (remember when receiving bribes was enough to ruin a politician’s career?) killing himself on live television and how battle-hardened gamers who had slaughtered millions of virtual Nazis didn’t bat an eye at the former but were justifiably horrified by the latter.
Oh, and speaking of England and video game violence, one of their worthless royalty said something dumb again. I find it difficult to believe that someone who has both played a first-person shooter and fired a real weapon can see any similarity between the two. It’s like the difference between watching a James Bond movie and actually being a suave horny murderer. Not that I’d know anything about that.
Inflicting physical violence is always an unpleasant thing for everyone involved unless they’re psychopaths or Goreans. Even soldiers, the people whose job it is to kill other people, often have difficulty returning to civilian life or even endure mental breakdowns as a result of the horrors they have experienced. Do you think anyone could get post-traumatic stress disorder after watching dark-yet-oddly-shiny alien Cyclopes in Serious Sam 3: BFE explode like pop cans filled with jelly after being filled with hundreds of bullets?
So what can gamers do about the perception that we are all lunatic time bombs of repressed hatred waiting to explode with lead on the nearest preschool? Being nice to people is the limit of our capabilities because we have no political power. And it’s probably better that way. Do you think us sexist, racist morons who are addicted to cartoon violence could run the country much better than the vermin who do right now? We don’t need the ESRB to control us and we don’t need gamers to force gamers into submission, either. Don’t trust anyone over level 30.