The other day I was having a hot chocolate, bundled up on my captain’s chair (an awesomely sexy black leather chair that I managed to squeeze into my bedroom, that looks like it belongs on the Enterprise), and I was reading through some old journal entries of mine. I’ve been writing a journal since I was about eleven years old; I don’t write as much as I used to, mostly because I’m passed my teen angsty “no one cares” phase that everyone goes through, and also for the fact that my life is very, very boring. I can only write “went out for coffee with Ryan” so many times. Now, as I was saying, I came across a very old entry, and I had a mini-rant about my friend’s mother; she’s a kind lady, a bit crazy like the rest of us, but the rant in particular was about how she was getting all uppity about the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. She had some valid points, mainly about it being a very violent, adult themed game. “My son shouldn’t be exposed to this sort of thing, he’s only such-and-such old!” She ranted and raved, and my young mind couldn’t help but think “Well, how’d he get his hands on that video game?”. Turns out, she bought it for him.
After reading my old rant, it got my thoughts flowing. I have heard many people blame video games for making people violent. It springs up in the media any time a young offender does some unthinkable crime. It bothers me quite a bit – it bothers me when people blame the media for how children act, or the consequences of someone’s actions.
Video games can be extremely violent, I fully agree with that statement. However, do I believe video games make people violent? Absolutely not. I do not believe that video games, television, or films make people violent. Video games just happen to receive the most attention for it, because a lot of the older generations haven’t been exposed to video games as much as younger generations. I’m not saying that games like Grand Theft Auto are appropriate for an eight year old, but I am saying that parents shouldn’t be buying these kids games if they can’t teach their children to differentiate from things that are within the game, to what’s acceptable behaviour in reality. And granted, children and teenagers can be completely idiotic from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they are completely incapable of understanding right from wrong. If you parent your children at all, they’ll understand that they can’t go around pulling beating the crap out of other people without consequences.
The one that always makes me shake my head is Dungeons and Dragons. Though people don’t seem to be as ignorant about this game anymore, it still is just so unbelievable when people think that this, of all the other games around the world, that this is the one that is evil. Man, it almost leaves me speechless. Not quite speechless though, I’m in the middle of a rant. The film Mazes and Monsters starring Tom Hanks can kind of depict people’s strange paranoia about this game. They believe those that play it are “practising witchcraft” or “worshipping the devil”. No, just…no. I have never played D&D ever, but as a nerd, it seems interesting. I’ve just never played. But I know tons of people who do. And I can tell you, these people are far from dangerous. Seriously. They work, go to school, lead regular lives, just like everyone else. Granted, they’re a bit on the nerdy side, and some of them still live at home when they probably shouldn’t, but they’re harmless. Tyler Savage said he played Dungeons and Dragons Online after killing and raping a disabled girl to help him “forget” – fine, good for you, you fucking psycho. I am very happy he will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, because he’s very obviously disturbed. But I’ve read certain people’s comments around the internet, and have heard people talk about how it’s the games fault. I have no idea where people get this idea. I honestly don’t. If he went home and watched his collection of Star Trek: The Next Generation, do you think the show would be blamed? If he committed those terrible actions, and then came home and read all of his cereal boxes 100 times to help him forget, would it be Kellogg’s fault? To me, all those scenarios are just plain silly.
Now, I’ve been exposed to video games for most of my life. And on that note, there are probably some films that I had seen when I was a child that probably wasn’t the most appropriate for me (one being “True Lies” when I was about 7 years old – which is still one of my favourite action movies). I have friends who have been playing video games longer than I have, who play them much more than I have. I can 100% assure you that I and my friends do not:
- Hit blocks with our fist to see if money comes out
- Steal cars or shoot prostitutes
- Go to people’s houses, throw their pottery against the wall hoping to find jewels
- Engage in epic death battles to collect each other’s souls
- Kick ass whilst chewing bubble-gum
- Think that hiding in boxes whiles make us invisible
People can tend to believe that because a person commits a crime, and they play video games, that the cause of the crime is the video game. It’s the moronic mindset that A occurs, and then B occurs, and therefore A caused B. So if you remove A from the equation, B will never occur.
Some people will argue that video games expose people to violence more. That’s absolute bullshit. Films and television have been around longer than video games, and are just as equally, if not more, violent than video games. And people were blaming them for society’s problems before video games came out. If people are so worried about video game violence, why don’t they take a minute to think about how stupid the MPAA (or my fellow Ontarian friends, the OFRB). PG films can show violence, they just can’t show gore – so it’s ok to take a child to see a film that could have a bunch of violence, just no blood. So there could be gun fights, people beating the crap out of each other, but no excessive gore – so therefore it’s ok.
No, let’s not even get into the films – let’s dwell into the centre of the beast. Look back at Looney Tunes; think back to when you were a kid – and every kid up until a few years ago had the good Looney Tunes, none of this censored crap. How violent were those cartoons? Pretty damn violent – and they were damn good too. Some one comes along and decides that kids will become violent if they see the actual violence in the show – so instead of seeing Bugs Bunny hitting Daffy Duck with a mallet, they show Bugs Bunny pulling the mallet back, and then it cuts to Daffy Duck wobbling around in pain. That solves the problem – the kids are too stupid to figure out what really happened right?
Now, maybe I’m crazy, but I never thought it was ok to go around dropping anvils on people’s heads because the Looney Tunes did it. Anyone out there remember thinking that when they were kids? Because if anyone out there honestly believed that was ok when they were kids, then I just need to say: I’m sorry, but you were a slow and very gullible child.
I guess in a very round about rant way to say this, don’t think video games lead to violence. If you are really that worried about it making you or someone around you violent, don’t expose yourself or the people around you to it. Discretion is the biggest factor in deciding what is the most appropriate for you or your children. If you’re not sure, do some fucking research – we live in an age where the information is at our fingertips. Don’t plead ignorance because you couldn’t be bothered to invest any interest in what your child is doing. If you plan on purchasing a game for your child, watch a youtube video of some game play, read reviews, ask the sales person for goodness sakes. Read the rating on the box – and get to know your child, decide what you feel is appropriate for them as a person, and for what you feel comfortable with. When it all comes down to it, Super Mario is just as inappropriate as Halo is as far as violence goes, it just depends on your point of view. Don’t blame the video games for your child acting out, blame yourself for not being a parent. Don’t blame video games for your own violence. Once you let go of your discretion, and allow any media to teach your children or yourself for that matter any morals, you lose any credibility to bitch about it later.