Violence is a part of the culture of entertainment of our world. Movies, TV, and video games have made violence such an ingrained part of the media we consume you almost have to actively put forth effort to avoid it, and that is ok.
While there was a time not so long ago where The Silence of the Lambs was a psychological and disturbing thriller/horror that no logical parent would have let their children anywhere near, NBC is now running a show called Hannibal in prime time network television, and while it does run later in the evening I’m sure there are more than a few young people sitting down with good old mom and dad and no one seems to bat an eye. This is an interesting phenomenon to me, at the same time a show about a serial killer and cannibal can be accepted into everyone’s home free of charge, our politicians are fighting over who gets to be the next one to line up to take a shot at the gaming industry.
Why is this happening? Why ignore much more consumed media like movies and television? Because politicians are for the most part older people see games as that “dumb thing kids waste their time on,” video games are an unknown to them. Human beings fear the unknown, they see things like Call of Duty commercials where dudes with guns shoot other dudes with guns, or they hear that some fucking crazy guy shoots up a building and despite having psychological issues and probably took in a variety of violent media, also played games, so… Jesus Christ video games turned this poor soul into a killing machine.
Meanwhile what about the rest of us? The 99.999% of people who play games that don’t do stupid shit. People that don’t lash out violently at the world. Are we just ticking time bombs waiting for that last trigger that will send us violently down that rabbit hole? No, No we are not. Because we are sane and rational people capable of compartmentalizing the things we do and play for entertainment and the real world where senseless violence against other people is senseless and wrong.
Bioshock Infinite is a violent game to be sure, but it uses its violence to contrast the beautiful surroundings and to prove a point that as peaceful as the world may seem there is always the baser instincts lying just under the surface and out of view, ready to rear its ugly head and upset the status quo. It is a wonderfully crafted story that is engaging and to be enjoyed by those that can understand what they are seeing. Taken out of context it would just be another gorefest to be used as cannon fodder against games by those who don’t know, or don’t care enough to find out the truth behind it. Much in the same way that Saving Private Ryan or Kill Bill use violence as a tool to tell a story so can games, and yet the gaming medium is discounted and accused of creating killers.
So I call out to the powers that be, focus on things that can be changed to help turn this growing tide of senseless violence. Look at the mental health system that is lacking in this country so that the people that need help can get it. Look at the massive availability of firearms in this country that make these shootings possible. Look at the people that commit these horrible acts and find the real reasons they occur. Don’t fear games because it is convenient to do so. Failing to resolve real issues because it is time consuming, costly or difficult to do so will only allow more tragedies to occur, and if they do continue to occur what will be the cost then?
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