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Press ‘START': Blaming gaming the “right” way

Mike Jubenville | Interrobang | Lifestyles | January 18th, 2010

“Violent video games caused my [insert relationship here] to [insert act of the child, or in some cases adult, here].” This has been heard many times before. Similarly, there have been these “links” between other games and other human activities. The game Need for Speed was mentioned in California a few years ago when the game's case was found in a car that had been involved in an accident. The accident was attributed to street racing — claimed to have been incited by the game. One might agree with the accident being caused by the game if the driver was playing it while driving (or street racing). The thought that a racing game causes racing is ridiculous. What is sound logic, however, is that those who would enjoy street racing are very likely going to enjoy games involving street racing. This should not be a huge logic problem, but it seems to escape the well-known, radical right pilgrims. A names that might be familiar when it comes to using video gaming as a platform to promote “right-ness” is the highly fallible Jack Thompson.

Now, even if we ignore the fact that violence has been around a lot longer than video gaming has (or TV, or radio, or the use of electricity by humans), there is a fundamental flaw in their logic. Thompson has been wound up so tightly to do “right,” he too easily springs into action. Had the man done any research rather than simply relying on hearsay, feelings or whatever other means he used, he wouldn't have fallen for many faked complaints. He successfully made a spectacle of himself over such burning issues as full frontal nudity in The Sims (there is none, as it was a complaint that was made up, possibly by a few writers for the Internet Magazine, Penny Arcade) and the incredibly polygon-pornographic Hot Coffee … I won't even get into why that makes no sense. It should be noted that most people under 18 wouldn't have the patience to explore GTA: San Andreas' poly-porn … it isn't as simple as pushing “up, up, left.” I have seen more graphic sex depicted in TV ads for hair colouring. How did Jack miss those?

One of the best analogies to demonstrate how these “advocates of decency” truly become misguided is also my favourite. Consider the noise made by a giraffe. Giraffe simply make no noise. Using the logic of videogame violence causes real violence one can also say that the next time you do not hear anything, there are a bunch of giraffe coming. Those who are not irrationally afraid of these silent (but deadly?) animals might simply assume that there is nothing to be heard.

Most recently, another example of blaming the instrument rather than the musician was heard on the local evening news. Murray Faulkner, London's chief of police made a statement that was quite chilling, and revealing. When commenting about a recent arrest (and subsequent hospitalization) of a city youth and the fact that an explosive device was found in the home (the details are not for this forum), Faulkner said, “First, I think there are some mental health issues here. The other is the power of the Internet. People can access information so easily today in the confines of their own home, where they can try things and experiment.”

The Internet created an explosive device in this family's home?

Then there is Eric Tillman of Regina, Sask., who was completely and absolutely discharged after pleading guilty to sexual assault on a sixteen-year-old girl. It wasn't his fault, you see, it “appears to be an aberration fuelled by his consumption of two non-prescription drugs, which he used for sleep and pain relief,” as noted on the record by Judge Murray Hinds.

The most disturbing isn't the right-wingers trying to “righten” everything up; it isn't the authorities taking shots at the things they do not understand because it is a popular scapegoat; it isn't even those who sexually assault others who blame Tylenol and Robaxacet instead of porn. What is truly disturbing is that there are so many who simply roll over and proclaim “the Devil made me do it,” essentially giving up their free will.

Blaming gaming is simply the latest scapegoat for the moral majority to use as a focus, rather than paying attention to any real problems their communities may have. Maybe they ought to play a few of these games and burn off a little of that negative energy.

Are you up for some Call Of Duty, Jack? Murray?
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