Another week, another plethora of anti-gaming news stories for me to rip apart. I've
always known that ignorance runs wild in the media, but I guess I never fully the grasped
the EXTENT it runs wild until now. (Now refers to anything after-Mass Effect/FoxNews
debacle, or AMEND for short). This personal quasi-epiphany arose as simply this
"The media knows nothing about video games, yet they report about them all the time.
Who's to say that they ever know anything about anything? As a self-proclaimed video
game expert, I can easily tear apart every inaccuracy they vomit out, but these are only
the discrepancies that are visible to me. I can easily believe that other self-proclaimed
experts in other, lesser fields (economics, social reform, etc.) experience this as well."
Basically, the media exists as a business. Therefore, they're trying to SELL the news to us.
They're trying to compete against other like-minded organizations through product
differentiation. But you can't compete on grounds of accuracy since that can't really be
"proven," as our only source of the news is, well, the news. So instead they opt for
sensationalist stories that appear to be interesting, either in a positive or negative way.
This general disregard/apathy for actual journalistic accuracy is made clearly evident by
FoxNews' lackluster response to EA's recent appeals to the network. As a news
organization, they delivered over 5 minutes of unadulterated fallacies, yet they feel no
need to correct this blatant mistake. Being honest isn't their agenda, making money is.
Based on this conglomeration of past things that have already been generally accepted as
being "the way things are," I've decided to avoid the televised media altogether.
Now, back to the true crux of this entry: the week in the news.
Let's discuss the recent claims of Wicomico County, Maryland officials that gang violence in
their community is solely caused by violent video games and rap music. Their argument is
"In Grand Theft Auto, you score points by killing cops, stealing cars and beating prostitutes.
In the í80s and í90s, you didnít have video games, you didnít have the violence in the
media, you didnít have the Internet. It creates a lack of respect for life and makes violence
As a gamer, the first thing that pops out to me is that there are no points in Grand Theft
Auto. You don't earn "points" for anything. Secondly, when you "kill cops, steal cars, or
beat prostitutes" you tend to garner unwanted legal attention, leading to cops, SWAT
teams, and even the military trying to either kill you or take you to jail. One could argue
(albeit somewhat weakly) that GTA games in fact reinforce the legal systems of our society,
as they remind us that you CAN do anything, but there are always consequences.
The very next sentence contains logical misconceptions as well. Video games have been
around since the 70s. Pong was released in 1972. The NES launched in 1985. The
"hyperviolent" Contra launched in 1987. Mortal Kombat was released in 1992. So their
claim that "in the '80s and '90s, you didn't have video games..." is entirely accurate, if you
disregard all the video games that have come out in the past 35 years, which is apparently
what they did.
The phrase "you didn't have violence in the media" also proves problematic, as violence in
the media has been pretty common since the televised coverage of the Vietnam War. Also,
people misinterpret the amount of violent stories covered in the media as being indicative
of the amount of "violence" that exists in our society. This is incorrect (see above), news
outlets are just trying to gain an audience. They'll report stories about people getting
murdered, but not about the 250 million other people who weren't murdered (this is
obviously a mild exaggeration used to illustrate my point, but the moral remains the same.
I also mean no disrespect to murder victims). What about the televised coverage of Desert
Storm in '91? The LA Riots of '92? Without violence, there really isn't any media.
Obviously, the claim that there was no "internet" until the 2000s is just flat out ridiculous.
Development on the internet started in the 50's and 60's. In the early 80's it was basically
in the form it is now, albeit on a much, MUCH, smaller scale. By the early 90's, the internet
was erupting into a national phenomenon. Obviously, its growth rate was small at first, as
the cost/availability of the needed hardware (read: computers) was still sketchy. Once
again, their remarks are totally devoid of factual evidence or even basic historical
awareness. They simply call out our two most recent scapegoats for anything (rap music
and video games) with the hopes of creating some sort of buzz in the media.
Somewhat sarcastically, I can argue that video games would definitely PREVENT gang-
related activities, as you can't indulge in gang-related activities while playing video games.
There's a general push for children to "play outside," but "outside" is where these kids get
into real trouble. Maybe you need to keep these delinquents inside and hooked up to an
Xbox, so that they don't further damage society.