Violence And Videogames
Ever since last years Columbine High School tragedy, violent videogames have been getting the cold shoulder from parents because of their high gore rate. For decades and decades videogames have never been as realistic as they are today to really portrait how a murder would look like in real life. In the past couple of years videogaming technology has grown to be so powerful that you can even drive a car via your TV screen, all with realistic control and physics. This technology also means that developers have the power to create more life-like structures, environments and even violence. Let's backtrack a little bit why don't we; back then games didn't have any ESRB rating stickers (Everyone, Teen, Mature, etc), gamers could go into a store and purchase any game not knowing the content that it featured. In the middle of Super Nintendo's, life span the ESRB stickers were brought to life and slapped on games like Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Mario RPG, Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat 3. But did it stop people, parents and game stores from selling the gory games to children, in a word, "no"!
Just as it was before, any child can still go into a videogame store and buy a copy of Fear Effect, Resident Evil or Metal Gear Solid, and the store clerk will do nothing but put the money in the cashier then say "thank you". So now the little ten year old boy has his Resident Evil game in has hand and is anxious to try it out on his gray box. He comes home, quickly ripping the plastic cover of the case, pops in the disk and plays away for hours. The ten year old boy sees nothing but gore, guns, violence and at times will hear harsh language spoken. All of this is stored into the boys head and in the next few months you hear that (god forbid) this little ten year old opens fire on his school, injuring or even killing some people, so quickly the videogame is the scapegoat here.
Who should we really blame here, the little boy, videogames or the store clerk. Well guess what it's neither's fault, nor the clerk, the game or the kid's, it is the parents fault for not acknowledging the fact that here is a ten year old boy is playing a videogame full of gore that the average R rated movie doesn't even showcase. Parents, the Congress, and all of the other governmental staff out there, were all over the videogame industry's back. Parents mention every reason but themselves, it is their moral responsibility to be aware of what their child is purchasing and playing in their rooms. Videogames such as Resident Evil, Half-Life, Quake III and Unreal Tournament are all slapped with M (MATURE) stickers, which clearly state that they are intended for viewers of age 17+. M rated videogames shouldn't really be sold to children without parental guidance and parents should be extremely aware of what their child is buying from his local gaming store. School shootings will happen sometime in the future (god forbid) but we can't keep on blaming the videogame industry for their products forever.
I know that there are many people in the US who want to ban videogaming and they are extremely serious about it. I used to know a college professor, who if even heard the word "videogame" in his class would throw that student out in the hall. This person thought that videogaming should be banned and because of videogames there are more murders committed. I want you guys to read a little analogy, pardon me if it is somewhat irrelevant but I think that it does tie in with what I'm talking about.
Let's take smoking and videogames, smoking DOES kill people but videogaming is CLAIMED to kill people. So if we were to ban the videogaming industry why not shut down the tobacco smoking industry, since people say that they both kill people. Well, guess what folks that as far as I am concerned that will 'never' happen. If you shut down the tobacco industry, there will be hundreds of thousands jobs lost all over the nation. And then we have the videogaming industry, which once again is CLAIMED to kill people, so if we shut down the videogaming industry there would surely be twice as many jobs lost. Think about it, there are people that are trying to close down an industry which is arguably the most popular form of entertainment and all we do on smoking issues is just raise the price per pack. If I was a smoker and the price per pack was raised from $7.50 a pack to $8.00, that wouldn't stop me much from still buying them. But when there is a death claimed to be influenced by a videogame we try to shut down the industry or at least stop them from creating violent videogames, meanwhile there are around 100 people dying at the moment from smoking.
Take a look at the facts, banning videogaming will cause many more lost jobs than banning smoking. The tobacco industry has a lot of people working for it in general while the videogaming industry has undoubtly a huge number of people as well, that is including stores, media, developers, publishers, etc. Anybody who dares to tell me that the ID policy and all of that other bull, should go outside and take a look at the teenagers, then notice what they have in their hand. I always notice kids in their teens smoking away, but where do they get these packs you ask? They go into the store buy them and leave, just as they would buy an M rated game if they were ten years of age. I want to send out this message by telling parents with youngsters to know the content that your child is watching on TV, try to get to know the videogaming industry so you would know what game to buy your child in the future, and always ask your child to see the game before he plays it. I know most of you reading this are teenagers and you guys are old enough to distinguish fact from fiction, but how come that wasn't the case with the murderers in Columbine, or was it?
What the school murderers did was completely out of will and no videogame could have possibly influenced two 16-17 year olds to commit such a brutal hate crime. This was all done because of lack of attention that their parents obviously gave them and their peers for harassing them daily. This behavior wasn't caused by a videogame, it was caused mostly by the people around the two killers. What I said above with the "banning" issues isn't what the government wants, but what many parents and others want. This topic actually popped into my head, due to the recent nomination of Senator Joseph Lieberman as Vice President and the possibility of Al Gore elected as President. If you didn't know Senator Lieberman is the videogaming industry's enemy number one. Because of that there may be more attempts to tone down violence in videogaming, which would cause us to be playing fruity games for the rest of our lives. I frankly enjoy violence in videogames (just as I would in a movie) because it makes you feel that the environment is a realistic one and not a fairy tale one. If you know your child can't handle an excessive amount of gore, then don't give him money or permit him to buy a particular game. You are the voice in the house and it is "your" duty to keep your kids away from something they can not manipulate. Not the store clerks, not mine, not Sony's, Sega's, EA's, or Squaresoft's, no it is yours, the parent's. I want to read your feedback on this topic. Send your E-mails over and we'll have many of them posted in the Letters Section.