Thursday, 23 June 2016

Studies show people who want to ban violent videogames are idiots

"Last week, one of the most horrific acts of non-wartime gun violence in US history unfolded in Orlando, Florida, where a single man unleashed an assault weapon inside a nightclub, killing some 50 people and injuring more than 50 more.  
Just a couple of days later, Microsoft, Sony, and a number of game developers held press events around the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, and each one of those events were filled with action detailing brutal and bloody virtual killings, sometimes on a grand scale, all in the name of 'fun.'"

Why is it that every time someone uses a firearm to kill people, violent videogames are blamed. A few years ago a stupid agriculture simulator called Farmville was the most popular videogame on Facebook (you're trying not to remember, I know the feeling). Lifestyle blocks haven't proliferated in cities as a result. And I don't think anyone expected them to, and no media ever ran a story sowing fear of a looming shortage of lettuce seed.

But videogames are blamed constantly, for the strangest things. This has more to do with the nature of corruption in a modern society, not a morality tale. We don't have pervasive, overt corruption anymore, we've moved beyond that. Our corruption is institutionalised. Regulation is a nicer sounding word, but it's better understood as institutionalised corruption.

The moves by legislatures to ban videogames should be viewed simply as lawmakers signalling to the videogame industry that it is mature enough of an industry to start spending money on lobbying and political contributions - like all the other culture industries do. Officials don't want to ban games - they make too much revenue. They just want to bring them in line with the rest of the controlled culture industries now that it's showing signs of being a serious contender for people's leisure time.

Why would it ban them when the government works with companies on special versions for use in soldier training. Restricting the age of people who can play violent videogames is even more of a clue the problem is the industry's misalignment, rather than any "save the children" reasoning on the campaign posters.

You don't need to be a certain age to learn all about your country's glorious battles against the savages both foreign and domestic. You don't need to be a certain age before you learn to play cops and robbers. You don't need to be a certain age to watch television shows in which GI Joe characters with square jaws and southern drawls shoot at bad guys with foreign accents. You don't need to be a certain age to learn that it's okay for good guys to kill bad guys.

You don't need to be a certain age to play rugby, or to watch it on TV. You don't need to be a certain age to watch MMA or boxing. When boys fight on the playground, it's "boys will be boys."

Because you don't need to be a certain age to attend a church with a life-like dead body nailed to a cross at the front of a room. You don't need to be a certain age to drink "the body and blood of Christ". You don't need to be a certain age to have your genitals mutilated by a stranger without your consent in the service of your parents' religion. You don't need to be a certain age to have schools explain to you that the Holocaust was about the Nazis killing 6 million people in ovens. You don't need to be a certain age to learn about "scalping" or suicide bombings, or to see the aftermath of murders, arson and war on the 6:00pm news.

You do not need to be a certain age to view the circus of autopsies on any of the CSI shows, or see murders on any of the myriad cop dramas.

That's the tip of the iceberg of why videogames shouldn't be restricted based on violence.

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