So you may or may not know a town in Connecticut is to hold a violent video game Amnesty. The organisers will offer gift certificates for those who donate violent video games apparently redeemable at a number of local businesses. According to tech site Poyltron the games donated will be incinerated. This is in response to the Sandy Hook massacre and is said to not be due to the games themselves being blamed but ďdue to the desensitising effect violent games and films have upon children.
OK thatís enough of me being a legitimate collector of news time for some highly biased opinion writing on this.
Now Personally Iíve been trying to avoid this issue, Iíve been trying to not have this debate suck me in, but this, as seems to happen so often, has gone too far and Iíve had enough so Iím going to blunder into this topic.
First do video games kill people ?
Well Iíd say short of a freak accident Final destination style no.
Would the potential carcinogens from burning games kill people ?
Well most likely yes.
Next is the idea of gift certificates for local businesses. I donít know too much about Connecticut so I have no idea of the local laws but what if one of those participating retailers is an arms retailer. Thatís right itís now become a games for guns so rather than having a piece of entertainment media you can buy a weapon. A weapon which is specifically designed to kill people. Some interesting old stats, out of all those shot by New York police officers and reported only 1 shooting was a perpetrator while 28 were the police officers shooting themselves accidentally or members of their own family. So before anyone begins with the whole ďBut we need more guns to keep us safeĒ argument. No you donít !
Look I may be from the UK but I still understand why the right to bear arms is important to many Americans. I get it. Itís very similar to the reasoning for the Sikh Kirpan sword, the idea of freedom from oppression and having the right to own a weapon to fight any attempt to remove freedom and to fight for your rights only one is political and one is religious (draw however fait lines you want there between religion and politics) . Itís all well and good for people to have this option. The purely insane thing I have to object to is quite how ludicrous this is getting now. The argument is scape goating video games to try and keep weapons about that are capable of far more than self defence. A gun is a weapon designed to kill, is it really required that you get weapons that kill so much more effectively ? Should everyone therefore own their own personal Nuclear warhead as thatís very efficient at killing people. The fact people are arguing that they need weapons capable of shooting through a car engine block because they need to defend themselves is insane. If youíre living the backwoods of beyond with regular bear attacks maybe you can just about say its valid to have a gun that powerful so you can kill those attacking bears and make sure. Again Iím not from the US but seriously how many people have seen a bear in the wild outside of nature parks / Zoos ?
Really videogaming is getting condemned for allowing people to play out the same hero fantasies the NRA are saying guns are required for. Because apparently itís fine to kill ďthe bad guy in realityĒ but to play out killing the bad guy in a videogame. The bad guy who in videogames has no family, no kids, no relations, no significant others, thatís now wrong. So does that mean kids playing cowboys and Indians is wrong (Or whatever they now play thatís war themed and non electronic) ? The differences being firstly in the digital world itís safer as little Timmy wonít end up in Casualty with a Nerf Dart or BB perfectly to the eye. The key issues is that video games allow more realism to be shown that pretend play, unless you happen to have blood capsules on hand and are good at making fake skin.
The key issue is video games like films have ratings. If youíre worried little Billy might see boobs or see violence then maybe rather than lashing out at the companies, you learn what theyíve created and put in place to help you by making sure the game you buy are suitable for little Billy. One company has already started along this insane path people are calling for and itís Nintendo. Presently Nintendo has locked the stores so you canít download M rated content until after 11pm and night in any of the EU, this has attracted a bit of criticism itself because, well itís a little stupid to have an arbitrary lockout time on something as itís not going to be fool proof. The silly thing is it undermines the whole idea of rating things as for adults. If youíre then going say but oh kids are playing these games. Then itís not the fault of the console maker / publisher itís the parents. There are options to restrict content and I have before pointed out many ways it could be done to verify the person is an adult without needing credit cards.
The problem here is arguing that people arenít adult enough to handle things. If you want to say itís the youth then itís the parents to blame for buying someone this without being ready for it. Iím not going to pretend people donít play games early and oddly in a private dwelling technically the age restriction laws donít apply as they are only guidance for those viewing it. This of course being different to public and retail where buying said items or access to them is illegal under a certain age as with some products is supplying them to a minor. What happens in your home is up to you and I am not going to call for GTA IV to be ripped from the hands of a 17 year old player for being under age. There is however an obvious limit on this as when youíve run into a someone on GTA IV yelling ďYou fucking cunt go become an hero and kill yourself you piece of shit in Human form as if you donít Iíll cut your throat for youĒ for 15 minutes solid going round each person in the lobby and you reply to the rather high pitched voice ďKid you know youíre adopted and your parents donít love you right ?Ē To then have a mother come on and threaten to have you banned for upsetting their 5 year old, is indication of the problem. On an 18 + online game 18+ talk is to be expected as is 18+ content in the game itself.
The next argument is ďBut surely if thereís even a hint of a link suggesting it can cause this its best to remove it right ? Well thatís wrong too as that would mean most medications should be removed due to the risk from them having side effects. If youíre calling for Violent video games to be banned because you believe people arenít mature enough to handle them when they are designed and legally meant to only reach adults then there are some things I suggest people also arenít mature enough for;
1) Weapons capable of instantly killing a person
2) 500lb+ petrol powered battering rams (AKA to most as motor cars)
What gets me is that this is burning art. Games however are yet to be seen as art in their own right. Which while I constantly snort with derision at art games like Braid with their oh so deep message I snort equally as much if not more at most of the works of Damien Hurst. There is no such line to say what is art and isnít except public perception itself. The fact Tracy Emmin once gave an interview and when asked by the interviewer ďSo if I left my bed un-maid is that art too that I should sell for millions ?Ē to which she replied ďNo you couldnítĒ when pressed on the difference her reply was ďBecause youíre not meĒ. That shows art in its rawest form right there and shows how perception based it is. Honestly give me Thomas was alone and Shed Boat Shed any day over Dear Esther and Love will tear us apart.
Yes that cabinet really is apparently a piece of art worth $40,000
I completely denounce anyone who sets out to remove another persons right to express themselves in any form of media, sure I can see there are lines youíre not meant to cross so to avoid major offence or to avoid denouncing some-one elseís beliefs / trying to silence them or trying to bring harm to others and trying to stop someone else's expression via yours . If you think their belief is wrong then try to change it and if itís the view of someone not truly educated on the matter educated them and see if their view changes without ignorance. It was the French Philosopher Voltaire that once said (in French of course) ďI do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.Ē
So Iím rather shocked and disgusted in the modern age were having another form of art being put up to burn, I mean video games can be called art and a form of expressionism. The fact they have adult content is because this world isnít a nice place when you get down to it. To condemn video games as the source of violence would be to condemn films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels for being the source of rape, because that is part of the film. OK in The girl with the Dragon Tattoo the way itís done is on message with the film and Iíll leave it there as I donít wish to spoil the film. The fact games are being blamed due to their interactivity also forgets the fact books and novels use the brains own imagination to create the images and books lead the person by the hand through the acts, it could be said as books actively place the reader into the scenario rather than show them the scenario unfolding that they are far more dangerous. This is of course complete nonsense as books arenít dangerous, unless it happens to be the phone book as being hit by one of those can come quite sharp.
The ironic thing is the NRA have perfect advertising for their message of ďthe only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gunĒ right there in gaming yet theyíve now tried to demonise it, bringing up an old flash game which oddly features someone using a gun. So by the logic of the game causing it, the logic could be said that the existence of a weapon designed for the purpose of killing people so easily is and making it easily available is also a problem.
Iím honestly fed up of this kind of scapegoating of arts of any kind and I do believe the point when it reaches burning art is the point anyone would and should be standing up and now saying ďThis is wrong this is whyĒ. Heck the point at which anything is being burned is a pretty good point to stand up and start saying this is wrong.