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Posted by Legion_

The laser guns of Navarro!

Posted by ripelivejam

@Ravenlight said:

@ripelivejam said:

@Ravenlight said:

But what about sexism?

poorly disguised and flippant shot taken at a writer and material not even related to article. you lose.

Serious-face response doesn't get that the shot was taken at all the panty-twisters/haters/douchebags on the site as of late. You may have lost the meaning but you're still a winner in my eyes :D

You're spot-on about "flippant" though.

fair enough.

sarcasm detector = broken

on topic: another great article alex!

Posted by Ravenlight

@ripelivejam said:

@Ravenlight said:

But what about sexism?

poorly disguised and flippant shot taken at a writer and material not even related to article. you lose.

Serious-face response doesn't get that the shot was taken at all the panty-twisters/haters/douchebags on the site as of late. You may have lost the meaning but you're still a winner in my eyes :D

You're spot-on about "flippant" though.

Posted by mp5

@Shinri said:

More articles like this and less of Patrick's political soapboxing and clickbaiting, please.

Posted by ripelivejam

@Ravenlight said:

But what about sexism?

poorly disguised and flippant shot taken at a writer and material not even related to article. you lose.

Posted by ripelivejam

@Shinri said:

More articles like this and less of Patrick's political soapboxing and clickbaiting, please.

more posts dealing with the content at hand and less shithead unsuccessful trolling like this, please.

Posted by King9999

Alex, this battle has been raging since before you and I were born, way back during the days of Atari and early arcades. I'm sure most people don't realize that. Read some history books!

Edited by Tolkienfanatic

@oasisbeyond: This. A million times this. Unfortunately a lot of the recent political history of the US can be characterized by glossing over/ignoring the real issues in favor of making things more palatable to the masses.

EDIT: Also I completely agree with the stance that merely participating in the VP's circle jerk is an admission of guilt, and something that should be avoided in the future

Posted by mythrol

Much respect on this one Alex.

Edited by Shinri

More articles like this and less of Patrick's political soapboxing and clickbaiting, please.

Posted by Choo_Parr

Alex, this is such a great article. I do not think many of us could have wrote about this issue better. The following sentence from your article is edged in my mind:

"There are awful people like this in every facet of entertainment, but somehow, we've let our awfuls become our default image. Angry commenters, forum trolls, and thoughtless haters are stealing our narrative and feeding into this resentful and fearful perception people have of what games are all about."

Any of us game designers/developers who have written or read articles over this most important of issues can just scroll down to the comments and see the domination of trolls send our narrative into the gutter. It is very small and sad.

Posted by Vigil80

@cyberbloke: Not really, no. They haven't helped video games, but it's a rather narrow view that says they're the source of the trouble. The reality is that video games were already on the chopping block with a lot of politicians, and always have been. Politicians have room on their desks for more than one ridiculous measure at a time. I don't know why folks - in any camp - seem to forget that.

Genius ideas like the town of Southington, CT trying to hold a video game burning, or California's game ban that was taken to the Supreme Court, haven't needed help to crop up.

Posted by vexidus

Your latest articles are very compelling to read. Honestly, I don't read much of the written content on this site, but I always check these out. Nice job Alex!

Edited by BPRJCTX

One vote for more of Alex's actually interesting and thoughtful articles, and less of Patrick's "Sensational Media" bullshit articles.

On a side note Alex, i am a loner, and a social outcast, but i never thought of myself as a "cringe-worthy human being".

Actually, what i consider to be a "cringe-worthy human being", most of the time it's... Basically every person who spends their life on any type of social internet activities, like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or World of warcraft, just to name a few.

There are certainly a lot more types of "cringe-worthy human being's", i could spend the day pointing them out, but since i am on the internet it's, only fair to focus on what's wrong with the internet.

And those types of ppl are considered the norm in today's world.

So, i'll gladly be the the loner, and the social outcast, but a "cringe-worthy human being", i am not.

Posted by interasteral7

@Jimbo7676: Funny, because American news has been mostly about scaring people. Even Bowling for Columbine explained that which I think most Americans will disagreed.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

@drakesfortune said:

To sum it up, we have the right to carry arms not to protect ourselves against our neighbors, but to protect ourselves against a tyrannical government. Some people are going to die to keep that freedom.

Indeed, not many people realize this. Thomas Jefferson himself once said "We endow our citizens with the right to form a militia, not because we haven't invented a police force yet, but because if we fuck this whole 'democracy' thing up, they should come over here and shoot us all down."

Posted by Dryker

The problem isn't the various media being consumed, but rather the people committing the crimes. But that's a much more complex problem that includes mental health, parenting, and social status that no one wants to point a finger at because it's a giant can of worms. People who study chemistry and physics for years and years become people who invent bombs that can potentially kill millions (and have killed massive amounts of people). Do you blame their exposure to chemistry and physics as the cause? The problem isn't what inspired the criminal to commit the crime the way they committed it, but rather why were they inclined to commit the crime in the first place. The two are not the same thing. One is the chicken, and one is the egg. Which one came first? It's not a difficult question, it just seems to be because, after the fact, they're inseparable. But before the fact, there's only one. A chicken, or in this case, a person. Does this person lay eggs? If so, there could be a problem if he/she is shown ways to lay those eggs, build those bombs, or shoot those people. The more clever the person, the more ways by which he/she can be influenced by media in ways to act out impulses he/she had in the first place. If you really want to prevent the potentiality of crime, there's only one way to do so. The same way so many fictional AI constructs have in so many movies. Eliminate mankind. But that's ridiculous. So focus on fixing the people, not controlling what they're exposed to. Because controlling what they're exposed to is merely a pain reliever, not the cure.

Posted by cyberbloke

I don't live in the US. Have the gun lobby really managed to turn public opinion against video games as the cause of gun violence? I am amazed.

Posted by The7thDraconian

Actually, some studies have shown that an over exposure to violence in video games can make a person less sensitive to real violence. However, violence in media is usually just one part of the problem and people will point at it and say that it is the problem. So people should stop pointing fingers at something and saying "That's the problem.". Instead they should put everything down on the table and say "These are all pieces of the problem."

Posted by gaftra

I don't know if this has come up yet but a very short answer is money. The NRA get's top billing not because the 2nd amendment is more important than the 1st but because they pay out. Take a look at the following from the NYT.


You'll see a direct correlation of dollars to support here. You always hear in abstract terms how intrest groups hold sway over government and here is a prime example. The NRA pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into lobbyists and campaign donation to make sure that they are top of mind and lock in their supporters.

My question is why isn't the gaming, and entire entertainment industry, throwing the same financial weight around? Why isn't the aggressive media buy and lobby protecting the interests of their industry?

Ultimately the worst case scenario is that we wind up with an expanded ESRB and rating become even more restrictive. Any retailer found selling a M rated game would face huge new fines, when by contrast an assault rifle will be sold at a gun show without so much as an ID recorded.

Posted by omdata

Good stuff, Alex. Thanks.

Posted by Jnorman

I really like Alex articles. And I love that the name of the feature is "The Guns of Navarro". Well written. Good read.

Posted by darkjester74

Nicely done Alex, enjoyed reading this. :)

Posted by GaspoweR

@Ravenlight said:

But what about sexism?

Patrick's got that covered. I reckon Alex covers guns and video game violence on Giant Bomb. : )

Posted by thetrusammael

Alex - great article! Well written. This article should be sent to all of the idiots that "report" on this topic in the mainstream media.

Edited by ptc

The game industry needs more lobbyists in DC. A good lobbying arm will continually shape messages and tell the story the way the industry sees it. I suspect the games industry just isn't spending enough money on this pursuit. Enough spending would transform the game industry from a target to something that politicians jump to defend. Not saying this is right, but it is reality.

As always, great read Alex.

Posted by Shaanyboi

This was a great read, Alex.

Posted by gbrading

When Congressmen and Congresswomen actually start to play video games, then this debate will end.

Games are just the latest victim in a long list of media blamed for perverting youth and turning them into maniacs. First it was comic books, then it was television, now it's video games. Eventually it will be something else.

Edited by Uberdubie

It's simple. The US media is in bed with the US government. And both of the above are in bed with Hollywood. When it comes to entertainment today, video games are by far the biggest competition against television and movies. Until all this changes, video games will always vilified by the media. When you truly understand this, it'll be much easier to see how ridiculous and farcical this situation really is.

I'm pleased to see that some here already see through all this, or at least part of it. As silly as it may sound, it's important for us as a community not to use logic whenever the media/government presents another sensitive issue to stir everybody up and divide us, because that's all it does. All of it is done specifically to distract us common folk from a bigger picture. As others have mentioned, it's about manipulating the public with scapegoats, distractions, and complete and utter bullshit (also known as cheap political tools used to benefit agendas of powerful people). So of course, it really has nothing to do with guns, glorifying violence, or even the legitimate causes of violence. Once you can see the farce for what it is, it'll be much easier to identify what's really going on, and why.

Posted by Superfriend

Could you please change the picture on this article? I freaking hate to look at this asshole┬┤s face every time I load up Giantbomb. Have something nicer.. like a pile of dog poop or a dead baby.

Posted by President_Barackbar

@bruno0091: The good reason for them to not be legally binding is that it forces indie filmmakers/artists/game developers into an awkward spot where they have to submit to a ratings board before they can sell their product. There's a lot of indie games on Steam that don't have ESRB ratings. While submitting to the ESRB might be easy for a large company, it presents some challenges to smaller outfits.

Posted by chocolaterhinovampire

Fucking so glad that Alex has a weekly column now. Good stuff my man. Keep it up.

Posted by wardcleaver

A better job of defending what?

How do you defend against those giving animate properties to inanimate objects (videogames, guns, etc.)? This does not merit a defense, as it based on a false premise.

Posted by aspaceinvader

Video games don't kill people. People kill people for no reason sometimes. The right to bear arms is no more than a right to commit murder. Why in this day and age do Americans need to bear arms. They aren't fighting a colonial power like they were back in days of British rule. You don't need to bear arms this day and age as America has both law enforcement and military forces to defend its constitution and borders. Civilians do not need to be armed all this does is lead to gun crime and a higher rate of murder. It is way too easy to buy guns, totally restrict them from sale to the public. If the general public want to shoot guns then registered gun clubs were the weapons will be stored is the only way that they should be allowed to use a gun and under the strictest supervision.

Posted by Eddie_and_the_Fist_Monkeys

If video games are part of a culture they are part of the problems of that culture, political blame games aside. Some people consume content produced by the 'video game industry', as that's what it is an industry, in a very unhealthy way. Video games, not unlike and comparable to many facets of life, facilitate isolation. For those with addictive personalities for obvious reason this can be destructive.

I think people need to stop seeing any criticism of Video Games as a personal attack, though we all take responsibility for the world we live in. A criticism of video games within society should be viewed as a criticism of society as it pertains to video games. This argument has reared its head for the wrong reasons but for anyone wanting to consider themselves as part of a video games industry then they should consider themselves; and their industry, the good and the bad.

Posted by Binarynova

Thank you for mentioning Simon Parkin's amazing piece on the relationship between gun manufacturers and game developers. That article helped me come to the conclusion that as long as the NRA and gun makers are going to throw video games under the bus after every violent crime, I'm going to stop buying games with licensed, real-world firearms. They want to bite the hand, I'll stop feeding them.

Edited by Spiritof

Gaming is just one of the many outliers to the situation, but it's not even near the core issue. If we really want to tackle the issue, instead of just nibble at the border, we really need to look seriously at the mental health of our nation.

There are far too many mentally unstable in this country who aren't being identified, treated, or even tested for these homicidal tendencies. Violent imagery hasn't been connected to violent acts in NORMAL human behavior, but can the same thing be said for those with a warped brain chemistry? Institutionalization is ugly word, but we really should look into at least testing our populous for potential homicidal behaviors. Unfortunately getting ugly with the situation is the only real thing that can be done to change it. Nibbling around the border is what people do when they can't see (or don't want to see) the truth.

Posted by hollitz

I like that the name of this segment involves guns and the story immediately following this one is a quick look with a still image of a gun.

I've been playing video games my whole life. Violence is pretty much always the answer in video games. I personally don't think violent video games have a profound effect on the way anyone behaves, but being that we are animals, having a certain action so consistently enforced with positive feedback is bound to have some kind of effect, even if it is negligible.

I agree with Alex and Biden that we do have a perception problem, but I really can't think of how to fix it. The medium is still somewhat niche, so any outsider is only going to see the most prevalent kinds of games, or what sells the best. As long as GTAs and Calls of Duty and the Pokemans and Marios continue to be the most profitable games, those are what's going to be at the forefront of outsiders' minds when they think about gaming.

Great article, Alex. Thought-provoking as usual. Miss hearing from you weekly from back in the Screened days. Any games press in NY that you could maybe record some supplemental podcasts with?

Posted by Ravenlight

But what about sexism?

Edited by FakeKisser

@Laivasse said:

Great piece, Alex. I was delighted to see that you were bang on the money in backing up Kris Graft's piece. The game industry has no place in a discussion about how to reduce the likelihood of gun massacres - because there is already nothing our industry can do to lessen their likelihood. This 'discussion' is taking place in bad faith, because the actual content of the discussion is irrelevant. The purpose of this debate, in the first place, is to make game industry figures behave as if they carry some kind of responsibility for violent crime in society. Participation merely lends legitimacy to these hostile external perceptions.

The reason we are locked into this recurring cycle of scapegoating is twofold. Firstly, these things work themselves out of the public consciousness over a span of generations and, as you say, it's been a relatively short period of time since the last bout of scaremongering. Indeed, comparatively speaking, it's been a relatively short time since video games came into existence. There are probably still some people around who believe comic books are a threat to the moral fibre of our youth. We will have to wait a while before perceptions of gaming match those of eg. comics, where the hysterical viewpoint is marginalised and therefore carries no political capital.

The second reason is gaming competes as a scapegoat with another industry which has more political clout. This is something that may or may not change.

Finally, I disagree with you that our behaviour within gaming communities will have any bearing on changing public perceptions. Those people who are quick to demonise and ridicule gamer stereotypes tend to do so either maliciously, for their own validation of ego, or irrationally, out of an uninformed fear response. People hurling insults at eachother over XBL are fairly pukeworthy, but they're not the root of all our ills. Youtube comments are some of the nastiest cesspools on the net, as well as being a higher profile forum than most gaming communities, but you don't see media pundits using YT comments to characterise the average consumer of media. Regardless of if we're all boy scouts and girl scouts, perceptions won't change because there is very little experiential crossover between our communities and the critics of the medium. Stuff like this is more a matter of slow generational perception shift. However, you are right in calling for more a more strident philosophical stance from industry figures, since these can help speed that perception shift.

I'm going to quote this, because I was going to write a similar response. However, I'll just follow-up and say that I think the last part of this article is unnecessarily snide:

"We have made major strides in recent years at diversifying this medium, both in terms of the kinds of games we play, as well as those who call gaming a personal pastime. But we've done this quietly, internally, and in a way that has clearly had no major impact on how those outside of our core group view us. As a result, here we are, however many years later, still facing these same issues, these same stereotypes, these same political push-backs that feel like they should have dissipated into obscurity long ago.

I guess I just find all of that a little bit sad."

I believe there are people in the industry trying to help the perception of games. No matter how you feel on the "Games as Art," the exhibitions in DC and NYC are helping to change perceptions about videogames by showcasing games that are not all violent. Many game designers are concerned with the perception that "videogames = violent media" and art trying to change that...from indie game designers on up to David Cage. I know your comment alludes to them, but I think you too easily dismiss these as being "internal." The fact that these games exist and are getting more press should be viewed as a positive - not just criticized for the fact that they aren't the biggest sellers, right now.

Honestly, I feel a more appropriate ending to this article is to talk about what you want to do to help change perception and how we, as a community can help more. Otherwise, the article just sounds like you are mostly just lambasting people without offering much idea on what we should be trying/doing, even if it is just your opinion. You did talk a bit about that in the middle, but that should be your conclusion, not just that you're sad that others aren't fixing the issue.

I'm sorry if this sounds too harsh. I really don't mean it to be. It is a good article. Above is just my opinion on how I think it could be better and lead to better conversations that lead to progress.

Posted by Xymox

"We've spent way too much time allowing the media, politicians, and frankly a good chunk of the rest of the world dehumanize us into easily dismissed, mock-worthy caricatures."

I also find it sad, especially when political smear campaigns include things like "this person lives a secret & dirty double-life, raiding demons by night in world of Warcraft and by day poses as a politician" as if gaming as a past-time is something to be ashamed about.

Posted by Slayer78

Great article and remember: where they don't play videogames at all there is a hefty amount of nasty violence. Try large parts of Africa for confirmation of this fact. We are our own worst enemy, and will forever be, at least until an infection ala the one portrayed in The Last Of Us come to take us away. That would be fucking funny alright.

Posted by CaptRocketblaze

Let's try something productive, like helping the emotionally/mentally unstable people. Just a thought.

Posted by kagato

A great and well thought out article, i often find myself falling into despair each time a killing happens somewhere in the world and immediatly the media points out the the person played video games, usually the finger the wrong ones as being dangerous and violent or just get the game he played completely wrong.

Honestly we have a battle on two fronts, first the perception of what we do, play and enjoy, as the article states we are viewed as loners sitting in a dark basement playing games and yelling obsenities at random people over xbox live. They also assume that a violent game can turn a perfectly normal well adjusted person into a raving lunatic which just isnt true. Does listening to heavy metal really make you a devil worshipper? Does reading a book turn you into an anarchist? Of course not, and video games that involve killing no more turn you into a killer than playing games like need for speed turn you into a street racer. Im sure a potenital killer will buy violent games and a potential street racer will buy a racing game, but the thoughts and impulses that create these kinds of people existed in them long before they picked up a controller. Are we really going to start blaming Batman comics and movies for the recent shooting in Colorado?

The other issue we have which others have quite rightly pointed out is just how we ourselves present our culture to others, it shocks me sometimes when i see some of the comments the users on this forum alone leave for others, its equally as bad on ComicVine which is always disapointing. On one hand there are people who want our gaming culture to become more widespread and include more people of all sexes, races and backgrounds, but then we have a louder smaller group of homophobes, sexist and racist people spreading their hatred and intollerance all over the forums. If our own people, fellow gamers are giving this horrible view of us, a forum where people are afraid to comment openly for fear of being mocked or attacked, how do we even begin to present oursevles as an example of what gamers should be? The worst thing is, even Giantbomb and Comicvine at its worst is 100 times better than the discussion groups elsewhere, the ones that the media all too often use as examples of us being monsters.

I dont have any idea how we tackle this, the majority of us are approachable and friendly, but we wont be the people who have their quotes pulled and presented for all to see, the trolls, the vocal minorities of self entitled children pretending to be adults, those are the ones that will appear in our tabloids or on fox news shows. It is sad, its not fair and lets be honest, the media and the world out there does know better, but its far eaiser to pick a group as a scapegoat than actually admit we have problems in our society that we are not dealing with.

Posted by haggis

Guns and violence are a part of American culture. More and more, though, it's become virtualized--actual criminal and gun violence has been declining in America for well over 30 years, in part due to prosperity and in part do to cultural shifts that video games are a part of. We watch a lot of violence, but we don't actually do a lot of it. Most of the horrific violence we see is done by people with mental health issues. Neither guns nor video games are the actual problem. I'm an NRA member, and I was a bit irked when LaPierre did his video game thing. I sent an email to them saying so. Most of the NRA members I talked to about it agreed that they thought it was stupid.

It's also worth noting that the vast majority of the NRA's funding comes from individuals, not gun manufacturers. And many of those NRA members are gamers. Trust me when I say there was serious grumbling and eye-rolling in the NRA ranks when LaPierre made those anti-gaming comments.

As for perceptions of gaming--it's changing as gamers get older. However, as many of us get older, we've gotten irritated with the focus most games have on violence. I certainly don't mind violent games, and I know they don't make people violent. But I'd like to see more variety in gameplay out there. We're getting there, but it's a slow road. There's always going to be a segment of society that dislikes violent video games and films, and blames them for society's ills. Evidence doesn't matter--it's not about facts, its about how they view the world.

Posted by dropabombonit

Great read. Strangely in the UK I haven't seen any bad press about videogames lately except from papers like the Daily Mail who love to try stir shit up

Posted by TrulyAlive

My biggest problem with this issue is that everybody in games seems to be waiting for someone else to make the first move. The ESA are only responding to direct threats. The journalists are only responding to their audience. The consumers don't really have any means to make their voices heard, aside from a blog or a poll that no mainstream media will take seriously.

Developers aren't saying anything at all for fear of reprisal.

It seems to me somebody needs to go on some sort of press-tour and at this point, it doesn't matter who. The ESA, a developer or studio, or even somebody who has worked in journalism long enough to be taken seriously. Launch a campaign. Get a spot on every news show or public forum (and I mean truly public forum, rather than a gaming site or reddit) that they can work their way into to say "Look, we don't have all the answers but what answers we do have don't indicate any correlation between video-games and violence."

Everybody has seen that one guy that they didn't know on that one singular mainstream interview. Somebody needs to get out there enough to make themselves recognizable to people who aren't video-game afficionado's, who can present points as intelligently as possible.

The potential downside to this is that such a person could end up being seen as a 'spokesperson' for the industry, but hopefully at that point, this whole mess should have died down a bit and we can start integrating other personalities into the mainstream to help shoulder that burden. Ideally this would lead to an eventual mainstream presence large enough to support multiple opinions and voices so that there is no 'single spokesperson', but a variety of well known and trusted people within the industry.

I know none of it is *that* simple, but I don't see us making any progress without this sort of effort.

Posted by shishkebab09

Keeping in mind a global sense of healthy moderation, I think video game violence is healthy.

Take a good Jesus joke, for example. If Jesus weren't an important and renowned figure, the joke wouldn't be funny, so trivializing his grace actually reinforces it in your mind. Video game violence is fun, but your mind should realize why it's fun and credit the sanctity of life.

Posted by shishkebab09

@Mofaz: TL;DR, though judging by the first couple paragraphs and the last couple paragraphs, you yourself have a poor image of the average gamer. You speak of video games as though people use them to vent their frustration from their angry lives. Just like books, music, movies, or paintings, there are pieces of art made for different people, and of course it's the shitty stuff that gets the most media attention.

Edited by biggest_loser

"We've let our awfuls become our default image. Angry commenters, forum trolls, and thoughtless haters are stealing our narrative and feeding into this resentful and fearful perception people have of what games are all about."

Have a look at this very community. The chauvinist things people on this site were saying about feminism and sexism in general were beyond comprehension. Rarely has a comments section been so misinformed. There was actually someone who said that gaming should remain male dominated and they were glad it was like that...

I'm only mentioning this because as a gamer I'm sick of reading articles and all the responses are part of this "us against them" mentality. Its so boring and childish. But then those same people think that gaming should be regarded as a medium of artistic merit. Well here's some news: art is criticised and read and misinterpreted regularly.

The amount of self-entitlement does no favours for an industry that deems itself now as "mature". Just go onto the GTA forums and read the comments about the recent delay. You might want to lie down afterwards. Games aren't just for kids anymore so they shouldn't be censored! Well stop acting like it then.

Build a bridge gamers. And not the virtual kind!