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brad drac avatar 2:13 PM on 12.05.2007  (server time)
When You Gaze Long Into The Abyss...

Wired's Game|Life blog recently posted a piece about Michigan prosecutor Kym Worthy's christmas list of games parents should not buy for their kids. The piece was understandably critical of Worthy and her dubious motive, obviously due to the enormous amount of wankbutter the games industry receives from the legalese slinging factions of our society, and the user comments for the post mirrored that view. This post in an of itself was not particularly unusual or notable. As we all know, lawyers firing off unsubstantiated claims about the evils of gaming is par for the course on the game blog circuits. What gave me pause for thought was when a follow up piece was penned on the blog, featuring a personal interview with Kym Worthy herself.

While the first article was sourced from Game Rush and a (largely irrelevant) 2004 Detroit News article, for the second piece Wired contacted Worthy to get a little more insight on the reasoning for her lists. From the interview snippets published she certainly seemed to acquit herself quite well, in spite of some unfortunate fluff about her gut feelings about links between virtual and real-world violence. She explained her basic goal was to try and prevent parents from buying these adult-rated games for their hideous offspring. Not an ignoble agenda, in my reckoning. So surely, the piece would reflect her even minded stance, and be somewhat apologetic about the previous article's negative slant? Not terribly likely.

While Wired's post is by no means inflammatory, it mocks Worthy's choices in games to list for being old or unpopular. In my eyes, this glibness was quite uncalled for, on account of her fairly moderate take on the games "problem". She claims no direct link between games and crime, nor does she voice support for anti-game legislation or the against the legal right of adults to play the games they choose. The entire goal of her statement(other than publicity, which is unfortunately an inevitable side effect for politico shenaniganerry) was to try and educate parents about what they shouldn't be buying for their children. So, rather appalled was I to read the comments, which were almost unfailing trying to tear down her statements using sensationalism and thinly veiled ad hominem.

This is a person who is not claiming a causal relationship between videogames and violence. Who is in no way promoting legislation controlling the distribution of videogames. Who is advocating only parental responsibility. Yet still, the gaming community jump on her, screaming, like rabid baboons. Is this really how we want to deal with critics? By ignoring what they have to say, and denouncing arguments due to entirely inferred assaults? I'm not saying I agree with all of what Worthy has to say, particularly about her supposed links between crime and gaming, but in all honesty I have no more proof about it than she does. If she's asked a question about it(which I assume she was), should she not be entitled to answer it honestly? As long she's not trying to force her ideas down other people's throats, she should be fully able to say whatever the hell she pleases.

The thing that bothers me most about it is that most of the people who are shouting loudest against her would be the same people who use free speech as an argument against the censorship of Manhunt 2 and such. I find it ironic that they seem to want to shut down someone for just having an opinion that differs from their own. If gamers want the medium to be taken seriously, we have to treat earnest criticisms and concerns with the respect they're due. Damning anyone who dares speak out against our belovéd passtime just makes us seem like the immature, aggressive cretins Thompson and his ilk would like to make us out to be.

For another take on the same thang, see SoapMacTavish's cblog.

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