A lot of what we do as people who play games has harmed our image. A lot of the ideas and stereotypes about us are from the behaviour of our online players.
The idea of gamers as nowt but childish, sexist, racist children is harming us.
And people have noticed, we aren’t a group of pariahs who were left to their own devices. Dianne Feinstein, A California Senator who is pushing gun control legislation in the US Congress on Wednesday addressed her constituents at the Commonwealth Club. There she warned about the glorification of big, powerful guns and indeed thereatened that Congress may have to step in and do something about it.
The man responsible for Sandy Hook suffered a plethora of mental and social disorders. He also seemed to like Call of Duty which doesn’t make him a rarity. A lot of people like Call of Duty. A lot of those people live peaceful lives. We don’t see such crimes in other countries where Call of Duty is available.
A lot of people think that the games we play a negative role in the lives of young people. In this case, Dianne wishes to blame the tragedy of Sandy Hook onto a demography of people who frankly behave like a bunch of sexist, racist, homophobic toss weasels of the highest order. We cannot fire back a retort without our community being analysed and it’s very hard to be taken seriously if we continue to behave the way we do. It’s very hard to be taken seriously if your nickname on the game is frankly unacceptable in real life. In fact? We should stop differentiating between “Real Life” and online personas since those two often coincide.
To date there has been no scientific correlation between violent videogames and actual violence. In fact many people utilise games as a form of stress release. And the games industry is extremely well policed considering nearly every game has a recommended age group and often prints parental guides on the back. Grand Theft Auto may have you shooting cops, running over hookers and committing Jet Pack Crime but you can’t buy the game if you are under the age of 18. In fact it’s the entertainment business with the BEST track record of content policing with regards to age. Music is basically a label saying “Explicit Lyrics” and people sneak into movies all the time. I suppose when you are surrounded by kids you are better at catching them.
She isn’t the only person who has it in for our hobby. Leland Yee (also California) told gamers to shut up after their support of the gaming industry post Sandy Hook.
My response is this. America has a problem with guns. Guns are Cool. I am sure it’s pretty thrilling to fire one off in the woods at a bunch of cans. However guns do not keep you safe, they do not stop terrorists, they do not stop crime, they do not stop murders, they don’t stop your government from taking advantage of you. Americans need something to blame for Sandy Hook and rather than blame the tool designed specifically for the killing of human beings. The man who killed those children had mental health issues and required help for that. The vast majority of people with mental health issues are harmless and live long productive lives.
The USA has a problem with guns. Going postal is a very american male way of “going crazy”. In fact only ONE woman has ever been in such a rampage. The gun is often sold as a great equaliser rather than as a tool of death. The sole purpose of handguns is to kill humans.
If we are to blame games for this then I will accept that ONLY if we blame books. You see, on December the 8th; 1980. A man walked up to another man and shot him 5 times in cold blood. The shooter was mentally ill. He then calmly sat down and read Catcher in the Rye. Looking through his past actions, we found he was obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. Yet not one person stood up and banned books.
Why? Well books are harmless are they not? They have been used for thousands of years. In fact we can look at books that have influenced entire movements that have harmed millions, from religious texts to the writings of bigots. Yet we don’t think of books as harmful. Why? Because a book is a method of information transfer of the ideas of the author to the reader. We cannot see the danger or the fault of the medium, merely the fault of the person acting on it.
Games are harmless. The world lives with such violent games but we aren’t innundated by crime and murder and violence. The fact is that violence occurs due to cultural reasons. In the USA the gun is so linked to the concept of “freedom” that people cannot for the life of them think that the reason why a single man was capable of shooting so many people was the fact he had access to a device that fires bullets very accurately, rapidly and over a fair range. That the USA has fetishised “going postal” to the point where running amok (It’s a DSM listed psychiatric condition) has become de rigeur as a way of either committing suicide by cop or fighting back against perceived ills. A variety of gun groups such as the NRA don’t teach responsible gun ownership, but ownership for the sake of ownership and a frankly stupid attitude towards guns by selling a dream. A dream of you being a hero, where you stop a bank robber or a rapist or an assailant or a terrorist with your gun. It makes you feel powerful and like a man. If you are a woman it makes you feel like the world is full of scary threats that you can deal with through a hail of soft tip bullets. If you have kids it portrays the world filled with child molesters and axe murderers to whom doors are no object (I blame Twilight). Even if you like hunting it portrays deer as body armour coated creatures requiring assault rifles to kill rather than creatures that we once hunted with thrown rocks. If you like target shooting then they portray you as emasculated and that the only way you can unleash your inner neandrathal is to fire a stupid and pointless gun at a range at some targets.
At least games have the decency to be escapism at worst and at best an art form of interactive story telling that can play with your perceptions. Guns are a deadly device being sold as a power fantasy. And so many people buy into the fantasy that the gun is necessary that you end up blinded and think that without guns you have no power.