In the wake of another senseless school shooting, and much like in the wake of tragedies of previous years, we're being hit with barrages of anti-gun propaganda, emotional pleas for outright bans, and now of course because everything old is new again, we're back to the 90's mentality that violent video games are now causing real world violence.
Yes, that old chestnut.
This lazy overused talking point that has been reworked reused and regurgitated more times than a carnival sideshow sword swallowing event. Every time this argument has been thrown out it has been beaten back into the void by actual studies that has shown that violent video games do not cause real world violence , nor does it cause any real world sexism, sexist attitudes or any other negative stigma. This is just another case of “society blames X for their ills” much like it had been done with Table top games, Comics, Music, Horror films or any other thing that has been blamed for civil disobedience.
Most notable of these was the creation of the book “The Seduction of the Innocent” by Fredrick Wertham; an attempt to coerce parents into believing that comic books were the cause of real world violence. Wertham went so far as to also use troubled kids with previous records to mislead people into believing that comics caused delinquency, Combine two different testimonies in order to further push his personal agenda, and Often used hyperbole to make comic covers, and characters seem more graphic and explicit than they actually were. Despite this leading to an entire senate hearing finding that these comics did not lead to delinquency, The comics industry was forced into actually having to develop a means of censoring themselves by issuing the comics code authority to protect their livelihood.
|Night Trap... totally tame compared to any Eli Roth film.|
In 1993 A Senate committee lead by Senator Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl, had scrutinized games such as Night Trap for being a game that according to Lieberman (who actually admitted that he's never played the game) had the objective of “Trapping and killing women". Which if anyone has actually played the game, it's nowhere near as edgy and hardcore as the senator states. In fact it's as about as kitsch as it gets! Though, both Night Trap and Mortal Kombat were accused of it's own seduction of the innocent, and thus another industry had been forced to create a means of policing itself in order to maintain their livelihood; the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. A means of rating video games to ensure that parents are aware of the types of games their children are playing.
Keep that last statement in mind, because we're going to go back to it, later...
Fast forward to a few days ago – President Trump, has basically made a statement about the types of violent content that is out there, and this is what has finally prompted a stagnating sect of what would pass for journalism if it actually had any integrity into action.
Let's see what the President actually said.
“We have to do something about what we're seeing and how we're seeing it, and also Video games. I'm seeing more people saying the level of violence in video games are really shaping young people's thoughts. And then you go the further step and that's the movies. You see these movies and they are so violent, and yet the kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved. But killing is involved and maybe they have to put a rating system in for that but you get into a very complicated very big deal. But the fact is you're having movies come out with the killing and everything else that maybe that's another thing we're going to have to discuss and a lot of people are saying you have these movies today that you can have a child see the movie and yet it is so violent and so disgusting so we may have to talk about that. “When this first popped up on Twitter there had been a short lived crop of "hur dur you voted for Trump and now he's taking your games" line... funny to consider how things would have worked out if the other guy won...
|IMC being the voice of reason..|
Now for those of us using context clues, It seems that he's trying to start a conversation about the issues surrounding children actually having access to certain media that may not be good for them. It's not really known if the President is actually aware of the ESRB and it's role in violent video games, but at least the sound byte actually shows that he's willing to have open discourse about this. It's just interesting that of all the responses to this, we're going to be focusing on one in particular, which comes from of all places, Polygon and Ben Kuchera.
Yesterday, Polygon dropped their article “I still can't believe we're blaming games in 2018”, and it's not certain if this statement, coming from this website (of all places) is surreal or part of some grand bit of meta-humor. To the uninitiated, Polygon is notorious for their scathing articles lambasting gamers for all manner of ills on society. Reddit user B-VOLLEYBALL-READY has even went so far as to compile some of Polygon's most notorious anti-gamer pieces including articles that tried to correlate games like Grand Theft Auto with ideas of privilege and misogyny among Tornoto's male youth, Pushed the crazed ideas of Ashley Judd, a washed up celebrity who railed against violent video games, and the abuse of women online, while simultaneously forgetting that she stayed silent for years while Harvey Weinstein kept her gainfully employed, only speaking out when it became politically advantageous to do so, Manipulating the morality of teenagers, Forcing developers to come to terms with subjective opinions that theirwriters came up with on a whim – be it the armor of a particularfemale character, or the role of females in popular tropes in media. And of course a personal favorite, which ties into what we're talking about – Curing the country of gun violence requires research into Video games.
|Gee, I wonder why gamers aren't so quick to back you on your sudden change of heart, Ben...|
“It feels like we’ve come full circle, with very little progress made since the last time the debate over violent and questionable video games took place in 2011. Politicians like Bevin want to argue that it’s too soon to talk about regulating guns following a school shooting that killed 17 people, but it’s the perfect time to discuss regulating speech. It’s nearly impossible to believe that he’s making these arguments in good faith, and I think we do everyone a disservice if we allow him to hide behind faux-gravitas. His argument is nonsensical on its face. “
Yes, here we are again having the same argument that we've been having for years now, and who do you think helped egg that on, Ben? It wasn't something that just came out of nowhere. You and your buddies helped push this sentiment. Whether the cause was to feel relevant, or as if you're some form of moral arbiter or paragon of perceived virtue, is besides the point. The fact of the matter is you, and your fellow writers' hackneyed level of arrogant tripe helped us back into the same situation gamers had to claw their way out of back in the mid-to-late 90s. And now this duplicitous “Face turn” is supposed to get many of the jilted gamers who called you and your friends out for their blatant falsehoods to side with you, now? Hilarious.
"Threatening to legislate video games and other forms of violent media was always about pretending a symptom was a disease, and it’s strange to see people from the party of small government argue that the government should be in charge of the games you play, but not the guns you buy"
First of all, The party didn't cause you to write this retort, Bevin is. So let's at least attempt to appear objective, Ben. Second, pretending the symptom was the disease? The entire argument has been less about the complexities of what makes people commit mass killings in an effort to stop future events from happening and more about using tragedies to shift blame onto popular things by people who are out-of-touch, and incapable of any form of introspection, yourself included.
One group of people blamed guns and the NRA for a coward using a weapon to commit a disgusting act of mass murder regardless of the blame shifting doing the grave harm of erasing the accountability of the murder's actions. The mainstream media took the ball and ran with it, and now Bevin in a rousing game of hot potato is taking the issue and placing it on the old canard video games being to blame. Meanwhile, things that should actually be called into scrutiny, such as information that the shooter had been visited by authorities 39 timesover seven years and having a history with social media posts, as well as multiple calls to tip lines go ignored, however let's shoehorn personal agendas such as gun control and video games into this. Because reasons.
Once things get out of control, now Ben realizes we've gone too far, and politicians are back trying to demonize gaming but that was never really something considered in the entirety of the four years your publication and others pushed for gaming to be considered misogynistic, awful and the like – to the point of Anita and her aggressively dyed haired sidekick going to the United Nations to try to enact some form of harassment legislation for being called out on their misinformation campaigns. The real kicker was that it was mere months ago when Brian Crecente wrote this little gem.
“Gun violence is so pervasive, so deadly an issue in America that it should be treated and researched as a contagious disease, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.And that's why video games needs to be part of the research that goes into curing this bullet-fueled epidemic. Video games have become so deeply ingrained in modern society, that ignoring their impact would be akin to ignoring the effects of movies, of music or of the daily news on society. And all of those forms of media play an important role in any complete, holistic approach to solving the problem of American gun violence.”
|Justin McElroy eventually deleted this tweet after posting it back in June.|
“There are video games that yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them,”Bevin said during a radio interview. “They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life.”
|Mark Kern discussing how actions have consequences|
But what are these games, Governor? Are we talking about Hatred, which is both mature rated and PC only, and goes out of it's way to express that the main character is a bad person, to the extent of naming him“The antagonist”? Or Are we talking about Postal which is another mature rated game that is absurd to the point of being parody and quite unrealistic? It can be wagered that Matt Bevin has no idea what game's he's talking about, but he will continue waging war against that strawman, as will other politicians out there.
And you know what's even more interesting about this statement? When the Governor talks about kids getting access to these games, he's not letting onto the main reason as to why that's happening. The most simple of answers which will never be addressed, because that would mean forcing the culprit to actually have to do their due diligence; The parents.
Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, but as someone who has worked at both Gamestop and Walmart, equaling out to a retail career of almost 9 years of my life, I have seen parents and grandparents come into the store and buy M rated games, including Grand Theft Auto V for their eleven year old kid, and I understand why. From the perspective of the parent it's an easy means of both making them happy and actually getting the kids out of your hair for a few moments so you can actually relax. I'm not going to come down on you for doing this, because you are ultimately the parent or guardian and whatever you say goes in your household, however, let me make one modest proposal.
Hypothetically, If you're going buy mature games for your immature child, be sure that you, as a parent sit down with your kids to talk to them about the nature of the content. Establish the difference between fantasy and reality, the moral right and wrongs of what's being done in the game. These are things that are important to a developing mind. It's your job as a parent to instill some sort of character in your child. If you're using the television and the video game console as a babysitter, you are seriously doing your child a disservice. Because the last thing you want to do is give politicians like Matt Bevin as well as second-rate journalists like Ben Kuchera another free pass to make stupid arguments
- See you next Bossfight!