By Daavpuke 1 Comments
I'm sure you're all aware that recently video games have been under a certain amount of criticism. It's even been targeted to such extent, that the Supreme Court had to bow their heads over the matter, after the California law had been shot down in all other courts. The subject was handled much the same in all instances: Even though some games might be "ultra-violent," it's hard to differentiate them from any other media in the past. From books, fairy tales and comics to films, cartoons, tv shows, but even music; every new media sometimes pushes buttons of decency and that upsets a certain amount of people. But even within this arguable debate of deplorable behavior, denying people the right to express themselves would demand a serious alteration of the First amendment, which entails freedom of speech, amongst others.
Luckily, the Supreme Court Justices had a very objective head on their shoulders and realized that one media is no different from another one and banning one would ultimately open the door for peeves in other fields. "Some of the Grimm's fairy tales are quite grim, are you going to ban them, too?" said Justice Antonin Scalia. Later, Justice Elena Kagan (the youngest Justice) added: "You think Mortal Kombat is prohibited by this statute? It is an iconic game which I am sure half the clerks who work for us spent considerable time in their adolescence playing." It's comforting to see that they had a good understanding of not only their underlings, but also the people as a whole.
But what was most surprising to me, is that this entire vendetta is being rallied by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. This man effectively has hundreds of virtual kills to his name, made a living by tearing off heads and is probably an inspiration to a load of games, like I don't know, Terminator? I'm not saying he doesn't have the right to uphold decent morals and values, but isn't it a little harsh to criticize what basically made the man the political powerhouse he is today? Surely he must've seen this retrospect before going on this campaign?
I stumbled upon all this absurdity when 3 game related murders hit the media in the short span of days. We've all heard a sporadic murder tied to Counterstrike or such "deviant" games, but never in succession. As always, these stories were very remotely linked to a game, much in the manner that it could be linked to cheeseburger, because people consume it on a regular basis. One I cannot mention, because the acts are so deplorable, I literally became nauseated just reading about it. It's been floating around the site, so I'm sure you've heard about the World Of Warcraft murder. The other story was about a man who beat his friend to death after a match of Madden, where his friend had been boasting too much, after alleged cheating.
Now, both those games have a certain degree of adrenaline raising action. But I discovered another case, where people wouldn't expect deadly force to be a jumping point from one's experience in-game. I wrote a quaint article about it, which was the starting point about this debate. For those not into redirection, I will post the entire article below:
On the lighter side of game news, a 22 year old mother from Jacksonville, Florida has pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
Alexandra V. Tobias told the authorities she got angry when her son of 3 months, Dylan Lee Edmondson, was crying during her FarmVille session. This upset her crop tending ritual so much she shook her baby to death for it. She told investigators that she shook her son, smoked a cigarette to calm down and then shook him again. It is possible the child 'hit his head' during this occurrence.
Wholesome values in FarmVille.
Tobias' sentence could lead her to live her remaining days in prison, though prosecutor Richard Mantei said state guidelines might make that 25 to 50 years. What will become of the Facebook farm during all this time one can wonder.
Now, how is this 'light news' you say, with an expression of disgust? Well, since FarmVille is no more an actual game than getting up is not actual work. But mainly, it immediately made me think of this: Do you think all those organizations out to destroy 'violent' and 'obscene' video games will jump on the evil of FarmVille?
Oh, come on, Ryan! You did that on purpose!
Since the days of Mortal Kombat and Doom, to Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto and so on, people such as Jack Thompson have been out to put the blame on video games, instead of parenting. The mere fact that this man is pinned an 'activist' shatters my idealism. Regardless, logic dictates that the severe addiction factor of the social media giant should now be investigated and frowned upon by these purists.
Yours truly guesses that many an addicted secretary will 'persuade' officials that the game is wholesome and teaches decent values, such as farming and more farming. Especially since Zynga recently overtook Electronic Arts in market value, with $5.51 billion as opposed to EA's measly $5.22 billion, things might get played down in general.
I wonder if Zynga can market this as a Halloween special somehow… Too soon?
"Do you think all those organizations out to destroy 'violent' and 'obscene' video games will jump on the evil of FarmVille?" This question raised a few other questions in my mind. All of which ultimately came back to the stem question:
Where does violence lay?
It's easy to see the malignant force behind a game like grand Theft Auto and put the condescending finger upon it; but what of FarmVille? A game that is stereotyped to be played "only by your mom" with cuddly visuals and next to no evil can hardly be called deplorable. And yet the severe addictive gameplay, which also strikes many WoW players, drove someone to use the game as a catalyst for murder. So why has no one gone after such games as a target for banning? There's obviously the same tie to be found that drove all other murders.
The answer to that is that violence does not lay in a game; it can't lay in a game. A game can, at best, only be a catalyst for violence, but the act is to be rested upon the shoulders of man. This doesn't mean games cannot 'encourage' violence by gratifying it or, in worse scenarios, even make it seem cool. If I were a few generations older, I'd be hard pressed to see the value a game like Manhunt could offer any person, child or otherwise. It's a game about gruesome murder and nothing else. You excel by butchering people in a world that only knows violence and the more horrid the kill, the better for your advancement. Market it like that and you'll have every soccer mom in a 200 mile radius out with pitchforks and torches at your door; to educate you of course, because violence with pitchforks is wrong. But the point here is that some games do use violence as a way to advertise the game. But horror and slasher movies have done that for ages as well; even Little Red Riding Hood had feral murder and stabbings.
That's where not only parenting comes into play, but also common sense. You can put the blame on parents all you like, but you're not a helpless creature your entire life. Granted, you'll need a little boost at first to shape morals, values and so on, but a teen can acquire knowledge from a plethora of media, without the help from his parents, if he is willing to learn. From here on out, if you choose certain values over others and resort to violence, it is your decision to do so and your responsibility in the end. If you've acquired the basic understanding that violence hurts, destroys and is punishable by law and you still choose to act upon it, you can expect that to backfire on you. Everyone loses control sometimes and there's no shame in that, we all have ups and downs. But murder or other heinous acts, such as torture, are usually thought out actions you choose to act upon willingly. No matter the amount of pushing you received from a certain corner, such as gratifying games, it is not the game that leads you to harm, it was you who created that decision.
So, how does someone go from thought to act? Well, just like anything in life, certain people have a predisposition to low impulse control for instance. This could trigger a reaction response a lot sooner than others. But also like everything, you have to take in account the factors of both nature's genes and the nurture aspect of an education. The nature vs. nurture debate is a long one on itself, but it basically means that both inheritance and your environment shape you how you are in certain ways. I tend most towards the nurture side of things, as it is your teachings that make you believe what you believe. There's a few amount of factors that could thus lead a person to violence, such as a hostile home environment, but also bad parenting. Yes, there's still that and let me explain why:
If you suffer from a poor education and are left to govern yourself from an early age, there is no way to guarantee an explorative mind. Without more complex thinking patterns, your mind stays in the more primal region that stems from your need of survival and self-satisfaction. Complacency is one of your infant stages in which you take what you need when that need applies, with no concern for or even knowledge of the outside world. If you don't realize that other people exist as you do, it is not hard to imagine you can't fathom that hurting them is bad. In fact, you couldn't even envision it as hurting, as you only know harm to yourself. Just like you can't 'hurt' a table, you'll not understand harm to others. I don't want to explain a full psychology course, but we all know our primal urges and if you're stuck on that level, that will be harmful later in life.
This man is a Cereal Killer. True Story!
In the FarmVille case, an addiction can be a further evolution from this basic concept, which drives a person to react upon the basic frustration reaction of violence. As you can't acknowledge the effect you have of your force versus an infant, you'll act upon your impulses sooner than others. This is even more apparent in the World Of Warcraft murder, where the culprits obviously stated to show no feeling of consideration whatsoever, outside that of their own self-satisfaction. They acted because they wanted to. It's what they desired at that point and that desire was to be fulfilled; it's that simple, tragically.
This should prove that violence cannot be pinned down to a certain media, but should revert to individuals. In what is usually referred to as "unhinged" persons, every case should be evaluated on a case by case basis, before jumping to conclusions. Almost all deplorable acts have an anxious finger waiting to point the blame at someone. We've seen it happen with music at Columbine, we've witnessed Counterstrike being blamed at Virginia Tech, but even Orson Welles created panic back in 1938, with mere words! When people lose sight of better judgment or, even worse, lack it altogether, we should learn to investigate before pointing. Why did a man beat down his friend over a Madden game? Was Brett Favre telling him to do it or did the man have demons behind him that weren't wearing helmets? Where are the parents of the children as they're playing GTA? Are they giving the children a context of reality versus imagination or just kicking back with a beer?
You can spew a million questions that go on forever, but sometimes, just sometimes, asking questions is a good thing! If anything, it makes you stop and think and that gives you time to reflect and see the bigger picture before zoning in on the first sign of misbehavior. It's not because some games are an easier target than others, that this puts them on trial per se. As we've seen even seemingly harmless media can drive people to atrocity, you can't judge others on a different standard. Sure, I've been playing Mortal Kombat since the early 90's, but I never went out to murder anyone with a grappling hook. I even have dozens of hours behind me on Carmageddon, but I'm literally terrified of traffic. In addition, I also enjoy prancing about in Animal Crossing and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is one of my favorite games of all time. Are those games malignant? I sure hope not, because literally billions of people have played Mario games and I'd hate to see all of them pitted against oneanother.
Just use common sense.
I encourage you all to reflect upon this matter and share and discuss your thoughts, beliefs and opinions about the factor of violence and 'deviance' in video games.