Another GTA game, another media scandal...

It's fairly transparent at this point that, as one of the biggest entertainment products in history, Grand Theft Auto 5 is going to attract it's share of negative media attention. "Violent videogames are corrupting our youth!" and all that jazz - I'm not going to reignite this discussion because, yawn, we did this dance already. If you're using a site like Giant Bomb then, hey, you're part of the choir and I'm not going to waste my time preaching to you. The mainstream press will jump on any opportunity to slap GTAV or Call Of Duty in a headline because they are pretty much guaranteeing themselves a sizable pissed off audience.

I'd consider anyone who spends 18 hours a day playing COD a maniac, regardless of any gun rampage.

Unfortunately the most damaging aspect is that the people getting frustrated with aforementioned bandwagoning are often unable to articulately or constructively counter it. I always feel uncomfortable when someone says "If videogames are influencing my behavior, why am I not jumping on mushrooms and trying to save princesses from castles!" because it's such an obtuse and ridiculous argument that it's actually counter-productive. One experience does not excuse the other, and to suggest the entire medium can be sub-headed under the blanket term "videogames" when such controversy rears it's ugly head serves only to take one giant social step backwards, vindicating the dismissals of society, that videogames as just that; games. For children.

The second worst form of the argument is an attempt to find precedence in other media:

There's violent films, and violence on TV, and violent books, and art, and music - why should videogames be any different, and why should they be persecuted individually? In this we find ourself clumsily attempting to wield a double-edged sword; the interactivity which defines our medium, giving it life and creating the vital empathy which allows us to immerse ourselves in these virtual worlds, is just as much an argument against violent videogames as it is for them. Let's be honest - when you're controlling a virtual avatar and you smash a virtual prostitute with a virtual baseball bat, the rush that comes from that is one of liberation, of transgression without social consequence, or shame, or punishment - that empathy exists, and it is manipulating us and how we play - that's what defines these experiences at their core, and that's why we enjoy them. One might argue, however, that empathy with a sociopath is less than desirable.

Videogames have the potential to be damaging and it would be childish or naive to deny that. But, like almost anything else, only when taken to excess. Seems to me, the best argument for videogames as a viable and healthy entertainment medium is; I'm not insane. We are not insane. We grew up in arcades, in basements, in our bedrooms - surrounded, immersed, hypnotised - and we turned out OK.

Great job, everyone.

Thanks for reading,

Love Sweep

6 Comments Refresh
Posted by TaliciaDragonsong

I've seen a few tv shows here in Holland have 'game experts' come up and try to explain all the hype...they fail kind of hard and then they'll make fun of happy gamers from pictures of the midnight launch.

Sad times.

Edited by TheDudeOfGaming

It's a new medium. The older generations (for the most part) don't understand it. Video games are now what rock 'n' roll was 60 years ago.

In a couple of generations all this sensationalism about video games will stop. And people will finally stop telling me "How old are you? And you're still playing video games, that's for kids."

I also really like how they labeled that dude a maniac.

Edited by TruthTellah

I definitely agree that we need to use better arguments when countering such accusations, and we do have to be mature in acknowledging the power of videogames as a medium that can influence people. Yet, any good thing can become disastrous when taken to excess. Chess is a rather harmless game, but when obsessed over, it can lead to paranoia from seeing connections where there are none. Working hard is good and productive, but when it becomes an obsession, everything else in your life can suffer.

People must have personal responsibility and self-awareness when dealing with anything in life or there can be a danger. Yet, unfortunately, many people suffering from mental illnesses are less capable of managing these responsibilities and keeping perspective on reality, and it contributes to horrible tragedies like what we saw this week.

This man appears to have been disturbed and unable to get the proper treatment, and many red flags went unregarded. Less than a month before the shooting, he called the police talking about mysterious people stalking him and the government trying to control him through microwaves. In the past, he recklessly shot out a construction worker's tires in anger and fired a gun into his ceiling to quiet his neighbors. And on the shotgun he brought to the scene, he etched "My ELF weapon", with "ELF" possibly standing for "extremely low frequency" waves that some conspiracy theorists believe are used to get inside people's heads. Ultimately, it was not videogames or any kind of media that drove him to violence. While there still needs to be more investigation to make sure every corner is covered, it appears rather clear that mental illness led this man down a path toward a horrific end as a delusional killer.

It's only the first few days of GTA's release, and I imagine we'll hear a decent number of stories that will be tangentially tied to it by news media in the coming weeks. In the face of that likelihood, hopefully we'll see more reasoned arguments for a level-headed look at violent videogames from those contributing to the news cycle and people online.

Edited by GreggD

That image smacks of a tabloid, m8.

Edited by Dalai

Quite frankly, I'm more worried about the increased usage of nipple tassels in our society.

But in all seriousness, people have been blaming the entertainment industry for years and that violence predates video games, movies, TV, even music. It's probably not crazy to say that playing video games 16 hours a day isn't healthy for a person's body and mind, but there are more important issues to look at before we blame Call of Duty.

Edited by atomic_dumpling

I'd rather discuss nipple tassles tbh