We have had many useful commandments for loyal readers over the course of our Ten Golden Rules series. From learning how to be an online gamer and fanboy, to crafting a successful JRPG or Survival Horror, there have been failsafe doctrines of conduct for gamer and game designer alike. This week, though, we're catering to the "other" side of the fence, as it were. No, that wasn't a tasteless gay euphemism; I am of course talking about those would deem themselves our mortal enemies -- the anti-games lobby.
Be they concerned and clueless parents who want to save the chilluns or outraged hardline Christian campaigners Hell-bent on the collapse of the evil games industry, those who are part of the league against gaming have to adhere to a set of rules like everyone else -- in fact, these guys crave laws and regulations more than anybody. How fitting, then, that they too have their Ten Golden Rules.
Whether you're an anti-gamer scouring the blogs for evidence of yet more interactive torture porn, or a hardcore gamer who's getting bored of all that pretend violence and is considering a move into joining the Parents Television Council, these are the rules for you. Learn them, love them, oppress the world with them.
1: Exaggerate, twist, but above all ... LIE!:
If you have a problem with videogames, there's every chance that you have a valid and sensible reason for doing so at heart. Let's face facts, though -- when has being sensible ever made the headlines? If you want your kids to stop playing Grand Theft Auto, then you're going to have to exercise your right as an American to make stuff up and invent things until you get a call from the local news network. This is for America!
Simply saying, "There's no conclusive proof that videogames are psychologically damaging, but it's best to play it safe where kids are concerned," is NEVER going to make the public listen. Lying in the name of morality isn't immoral, so do it as often and as loudly as possible. Society enjoys being lied to, anyway — it's how FOX News still operates — so you're basically doing the public a service.
In order to get your point across, if you want to claim that a game has "realistic sex" in it or that it "simulates murder", then you need to go for it. The stuff in the game is almost as bad as all that, and "almost" is as good as "absolutely completely" in today's modern, hurly-burly world.
2: Fear is the best insurance that money can buy:
Backed by your hyperbole and twisted truth, you need to whip up like-minded crusaders into a frenzy of terror in order to make sure you really blaze some trails. Scare-mongering was voted America's favorite mongering 2006, beating out fish-mongering and rumor-mongering by 23% of the votes. In order to spread your fear like wildfire, you need to target the right demographic -- the bored, overemotional housewife with nothing better to do. FOX-Fodder, as I like to call them.
Housewives are walking goldmines to anybody looking to start a moral campaign against games. They are the Scooby-Doos of society -- easily terrified and barely intelligible. They are also your prime recruiting stock, so make sure to cultivate them wisely. Once most people give birth to a child, something happens in their brains to instantly turn them into confused and illogical loudmouths who will do anything you want them to in the name of protecting the children. We have been able to prove this with brain scans from Harvard. I can't let you see the scans, but I assure you they are real.
People fear what they don't understand, and destroy what they fear. It's pretty much how any dictator rises through the ranks to seize power from a bleating and dazed populace. You do want to be a dictator, don't you?
Some might say that using terror to get your own way is pretty much what someone in Al-Qaeda would do. I say that anybody who thinks like that is a terrorist -- GET THEM!
3: Your experts are experts. Experts that contradict you are not experts:
Being able to say "research shows..." is one of the greatest gifts that God ever gave us. Nobody can ever argue with research, because it shows so much. The best part of it is that nobody in the mainstream media ever actually asks you who did the research, so you don't even have to actually get any real statistics. Just know that there IS research out there, showing things. We saw a bit of it once.
The problem is, you may encounter some persistently annoying gamers (read: sociopathic basement-dwellers) who have research of their own that shows just as many things as YOUR research. Never fear, though, because you are armed with the SECOND greatest gift that God ever gave us -- ignorance!
All you need to do to counter the conflicting evidence is to discredit the experts who are contradicting you. It doesn't matter if Dr. Tanya Byron says that there's no conclusive proof over the harm games can do, and who cares what Doctors Kutner and Olson think? You have some colorful patterns on a piece of paper, and NOBODY is beating that! Clearly anybody who disagrees with you doesn't know what they are talking about and doesn't deserve to be discussed. Now you can keep on using your real experts and never have to worry about tackling the educated opinions of those that disagree with you.
People can find an expert opinion to back up any claim they make. Your expert opinion is the only valid one, however, because it's yours!
4: Use terms like "desensitize" as if they actually mean something:
The right buzz words are essential for the budding anti-games lobbyist, because buzz words allow you to make things sound bad without ever having to explain what, exactly, is so bad about them. Saying that games "desensitize" people to violence is an incredibly popular tactic. Nobody actually knows the terrible consequences of media desensitization, but it just sounds like they'd be negative, so naturally anything that could desensitize is automatically evil. Even though the desensitization claim doesn't actually mean anything, the population will be eating out of your hand -- if only because you used a word with six syllables in it, and people are too stupid to understand it.
Since you're already building a new career on half-truths and lies, you might as well make up some brand new terms as well. "Torture porn" is a tried-and-tested one, but this particular writer would also suggest "PreySlay-tion 3," "SINulation," and "Murderactive Killtertainment."
5: "In GTA, you can hire a prostitute, beat her to death and then steal her money.":
Get used to saying this a lot, because it's just as shocking as it was when it was first said in 2001. Also, practice being outraged as you say it, as if it's brand new and still absolutely inconceivable. People have the attention spans of flies, and will have forgotten that they heard the exact same sentence from another pundit only yesterday.
6: Pass yourself off as an expert:
Because nobody listens to just ANY ranting fundamentalist conservative or spineless whiny liberal, you will need some credentials to back up your outrage. Don't worry -- they needn't be meaningful credentials, just something vaguely cobbled together that a news outlet can run underneath your name to make it look like you know what you are talking about.
This is all a matter of perspective. For example, have you ever once spoken to a person in passing who might have once played a videogame? Perfect! Now you can claim to be someone who has "experience in dealing with the core interactive software demographic." All it takes is half an hour reading the Columbine Wikipedia page to qualify as a "school shooting and gun crime researcher." It's easy when you know how to spin.
If you don't quite yet feel legitimate enough, you could always join an effectively powerless organization that has an official sounding name. Not only will you be taken more seriously, the undue sense of power is quite addictive.
7: It's always about the children:
Children are wonderful little tools that help you push forth any agenda you want. Don't like alcohol? Have it prohibited in the name of saving the children. Have a problem with wrestling? Say kids will die if they watch it. Building on the fear that parents feel as soon as they squirt a baby out into the world, you can easily shape society in your own image by claiming you're doing it for the kids. Nobody wants to be seen supporting anything that would harm children, which means you will become infallible -- if anybody disagrees with you, they are clearly in favor of children becoming hurt, and that probably means they're a pedophile. Instant discredit to Pedo McTouchyKids, and nothing but applause for your upstanding, morally impeccable self.
8: Circular logic works because circular logic works:
If you're serious about your anti-games stance, then you're going to have to shed that logic like it was a bra and you were Amy Winehouse. There can be no room for level-headed discussion here, because otherwise people might realize that everything you've been saying is bullshit, and that's not going to get anything banned.
Because a percentage of killers have played violent games before, violent games clearly lead to killers. It is this logic that The Sun newspaper uses to imply that everyone in Austria likes to lock their daughters up in basement dungeons and molest them. It really works, too! Once you've found a common thread that joins a murderer with a videogame, however flimsy, you now have an undeniable link to crime and gaming. Once those pro-gaming pixelante e-tards hear your stunning logic, they will be instantly silenced and everyone in the games industry shall be sent to prison, where they belong.
9: Hypocrisy, always hypocrisy:
Why does Matt Damon's mother find violent games a problem, but suffers no such issue with Damon's violent movies? Because Matt Damon is IN those movies, stupid! You don't need any valid reason to justify demonizing one medium while accepting another. Once you become comfortable in your hypocritical skin, you'll find that pursuing your agenda becomes ten times easier.
The most amazing thing is that your terrified, braying followers will NEVER question you. You can star in a movie in which you play a heartless killing machine who relentlessly quests to destroy Linda Hamilton, AND star in the game of the movie, yet STILL attack violence in games and those who blindly obey you won't bat an eyelid. How awesome is that? It must be how God feels, and since God's clearly on your side in this crusade, it all makes sense. Maybe you're Jesus. You should check.
Being a hypocrite is very important, because if you were a true, consistent moral fighter, then you'd strive to ban television and books as well, and you can't do that -- you LIKE television and books.
10: Never actually PLAY the game:
The most important, crucial rule of all. Never, under any circumstances, actually PLAY the game -- not because you think it'll turn you into a killer, you know that's bullshit -- but because it's easier to make stuff up if you've never seen it. I think that's how Scientology became so successful.
Why else does FOX News draft in psychologists who haven't played a game, and just tell them what's in it without showing them? Because if they saw it, they'd probably realize all the claims were pulled out of some hack's ass, and we can't have that, not when there's stuff to ban. If you've just been told a game is "like porn," then it makes all those little comments about "digital graphic sex" all the more easy to swallow.
Besides which, why should you have to play the game? After all, YOU have a life, not like these joystick junkies who spend all their free time playing Doom in 2008, on their ... what do they call them, Playing Stations and Nintenders? Whatever they are called, everyone knows that gaming is just for kids, despite the fact that so many adults play them. Actually, the high percentage of supposed 30-year olds playing games were probably just very tall, very hairy infants. It's ridiculous to suggest anyone over the age of ten plays a game that's rated 18.
And that's how it's done. I hope you enjoyed these rules, and now feel prepared to enjoy a rich new life dedicated to the systematic destruction of everything you do not know or understand. First games, then the gay people! That's how we roll.