Being the random thoughts of Greg Tito, age 29.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ah, videogames

So Rain Delay's got an interesting bit about videogames helping surgeons perform better. Well, duh. We're talking about manual dexterity here and any activity which reinforces the brain-hand connection will improve performance. Videogames, the first truly interactive medium, can and have been shown to actually help mental and physical development, despite being portrayed as a time-wasting endeavor. The news outlets, like the Fair and Balanced Fox news affiliates (who really believes that 24 interviews are news?), love to pick up the banner against any violent acts perpetrated by admitted gamers. "The videogames made them do it." It's the same that was said of the Beatles, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne and Barney the Purple Dinosaur. The truth is that no song or movie or book or game can make someone commit awful acts of violence. Gamers are especially sensitive to this line of reasoning because they've seen such mindless discrimination from their mothers for years. But sometimes, this senstivity goes a little too far.

Take the case of the kid in Wisconsin who is in jail for murdering a homeless person. CNN ran an article about the case, highlighting a dangerous trend of sport killings amongst the kids of America. There have been many homeless people killed the last few years by teenagers, perhaps because of a lack of moral understanding and/or consequences by disposing of an unwanted member of society, ie. a smelly homeless dude. There is more to be said about the kid's sense of superiority over those less fortunate (most of the perpetrators are middle-class white kids) and the ability to exact their own perverted sense of justice. One could even argue that our country's stance on the world stage as a moral superior, able to wreak havoc on any state or individual for a perceived lack of character, is more to blame. Fuck Saddam, we're better, let's kill him. (insert "that smelly homeless guy" for Saddam and you'll get my point)

All of this would have passed my notice however if it weren't for one line in the CNN story.

Ihrcke told police that killing "the bum" reminded him of playing a violent video game, a police report shows.

That's it. One line in a 2000 word story. Who knew that one little throwaway jab at videogames would ignite such passion in the gaming community? At least 3 major gaming blogs have cited the CNN article as another attack against videogames. I agree with their stance. I laughed at the jokes at CNN's expense. Gabe from Penny Arcade makes a very funny rebuttal, citing the story claiming that one of the assailant's rubbed his own feces on the dead homeless man:

"[Rule #]4. Don’t take shit out of your butt and rub it on the hobo you just killed. To me this seems like the easiest lesson of all. My son is only two and already he’s coming to understand that “poops” belong in the potty. How did this kid get to the age of fifteen years old without learning this? Here’s how easy this one is:

Hey son, come here real quick.
Yeah Dad?
Don’t take shit out of your butt.
Sure thing Dad.

Done! How hard was that? What kind of crazy fuck takes poop from his butt and rubs it on someone?"

But I think the gamer reaction is a little extreme. I mean, the videogames thing wasn't even the lead on the CNN story. It was one line from a quote from the kid himself. Yes, that angle is overplayed in the media. Yes, that kid is a dipshit (or rather, a very smart dipshit) for bringing it up. But come on, let's not make a Jack Thompson case out of it. It seems that the gamer community is now guilty of some of the same inflammatory tactics that their opponents always use. Maybe it's worth it to muster this kind of outrage at every disparaging mention of videogames in the press. Maybe. But maybe if we start taking every quote from an obviously crazy fuck as a serious accusation against gaming, then we are also adding credence to that accusation. I'm just saying.

Videogames have enough demons to battle without creating new ones.

(And sometimes those demons threaten to destroy Azeroth and we have to travel through the Dark Portal to battle the Burning Legion on the shards of wasted Draenor. Yeah, I've been playing too much WOW again.)

And for those of you who still cling to the belief that videogames corrupt absolutely, read this letter from the stepmom of one of the teens jailed in the case. It's a crazy read.

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