The Gamers Talk Back

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Welcome to Return Fire

Recently, thanks largely to the GTA "Hot Coffee" scandal, the gaming industry has come under fire once again and is taking political flak from all sides, a large chunk of which is invalidate and just plain wrong.

First of all, all opinions expressed here are just that, opinions, and its possible we wont always be 100% accurate (hey, we're human, we make mistakes). And, for that matter, all individual opinions are just that, individual, and may not even reflect the opinions of other posters.

Now that that's cleared up

The purpose of Return Fire is to provide gamers at least some small corner where their opinions might be heard. The media and politicians portray games as some mind-warping demon-spawn that'll snatch your babies from their cribs, and frankly we're getting tired of the BS.

Here's my personal two cents.

First of all, I'm not going to defend GTA or Rockstar Games (makers of Grand Theft Auto). They hid content from the ESRB and have landed the entire industry in hot water, not for the first time. They sell their games by shock factor, and while I know some people love their stuff, I personally am getting sick of watching them hurt games as a whole just so they can stir up some publicity. They get what they deserve.

Things have gotten out of hand. Take, for example, one Sen. Schumer, who caused a good deal of ruckus a litte while ago over a game called "25 to Life," which, oh by the way, hadn't even been released at the time (and, for that matter, I don't even think it's out now). If memory serves, his argument was that the game revolves around gang warfare and the like, and "Little Jhonny should be learning to read, not kill cops."

I have several gripes with this.

Number One: Mr. Schumer is passing judgement on something that isn't even out yet. For that matter, I doubt Mr. Schumer has ever even held a controller.

Number Two: I hate to say it, but the last time I heard "25 to Life," in addition to having gang characters, also allowed you to PLAY AS cops and crack down on criminals. Convienient how that little detail was left out of the holier-than-thow escipades.

Number Three: Where did "little Johnny" even get this game (assuming, for a second, that it was actually on the shelves in the first place)? Legally, Mature or "M" rated games shouldn't even be sold to a minor without parental consent. And that "M" appears in, count 'em, three places MINIMUM on the packaging and game disc, with detailed explanations of the game content on the back of the case AS WELL as explanations of all the ratings plastered all over the display cases of most major retailers. I hate to break it to all the soccer moms that love to rampage over this stuff, but if your "Little Johnny" is playing this game and being "corrupted," its because you, the parent, gave it to him. Say it with me now. "P-A-R-E-N-T." We'll be coming back to this term, for those that don't seem to get it:
You, as this child's parent, had to buy these violent, offensive, or otherwise M-rated games for your kid. Or, at the very least, you lived in the same house and didn't notice when "Little Johnny" brought it home and started playing on that fifteenth TV you got for his room so you didn't have to have him in your hair, god forbid. And then, you, the parent, become enraged when the media or a politician or a lawyer tell you that your little angel has become tainted, but don't worry, if you watch our newscast/vote for me/support my legal case we'll make it all better and you will be free of responsibility.

Wake up, people. Whatever happened to, you know, raising your kids? You know what, maybe you wouldn't even have to worry about these nasty, evil, hell-spawned (and, hey, rich, can you say "lawsuit"?) video game companies if you'd just raised your kid to know that killing is bad. Yes, I know parenting is a difficult job, and no, no one is perfect, but come on, this should be basic child rearing here! Let's go back in time and bring back that lovely idea of accepting responsibility here!

Which brings me to point two. Why, oh why, does the general public always always always fall for the same ploy? "Tell everyone their children are being corrupt, but its not their fault, and they beg for your help." Let's review. Comic books? Rot your brain. But no one cared once rock music became the all corrupting evil. And what was next? I forget, was it the violent movie hype or was rap music next? And then it was TV, but no one cares about that anymore, as long as we all get our HBO. And then what, were movies back in the spotlight for a bit again? And then it was video games.

The media blows these things out of proportion for the same reason they tell me something new is killing me every week--people tune in and eat it up. Politicians do it because it gets them votes from the well-meaning yet underinformed masses. And then there's the occasional laywer who gets in on things--a good lawsuit never hurt anyone (as long as we win), right?

I could rant on this forever, but this is the first post and I should really leave some for later. In closing, video games are the newest scapegoat to enrage the masses and generate ratings/votes/etc. Again, I am NOT defending Rockstar games--they played dirty and it bit them in the rear again, and frankly I think they deserve it. But I hate standing by and watching the whole industry taking fire for one group of idiots.

That's my rant for the moment. If I remember then maybe next time I'll start ripping apart that guy who started attacking "The Sims" as being a "pedophile's paradise" the other day.

But I need sleep now.


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