Monday, January 24, 2011

Ramblings of a Normal Guy: Video Games and the idiots who (don’t) play them.

Welcome to another addition of ramblings of a normal guy. This is my special column, where I go off on wild rants complaining about the things that happen and effect my (and ours) every day life. Because of the excessive amounts of stupidity that will be featured, a large amount of inappropriate language will most likely be used. Also expect a large helping of calling out and "I don't give a crap". Rated M for mature, and read at  your own risk.  

Ah video games. 

From your humble begins as paper and pencil (well games started there, video came later), how great have you become over the years. From 2bits to Blueray, from big ass cartridges to tiny disks, how many hours have I spent with thee? In a time when many tv’s were black and white and 6 channels, I can still remember a time being amazed at Tanks and playing it without end. I remember how my super awesome Atari could, and did, hold my attention for hours on end, much to the private relief of my parents. Flying over digitized cities, trying to save some bimbo from a monkey, even the annoying cabbage patch kids gave me hours of joy. Oh and btw, back in my day Mario was a bad guy, just saying… As time pasted, my love of games only grew, as did the systems we played them on. 

Soon (in relative terms) the world of gaming would explode to more than just a few lines on the tv. Nintendo master system (the nes) and Sega’s master system would give us many games to delight and please us (not to mention deplete our parent's wallets). As the power and will of the gamer grew, various genes would be developed and explored, each having a special place in this or that gamers heart. No matter what the action, time of day or length of time it took to beat, I would be there 2inches from the TV playing to my hearts content. In fact... I think it was  when my parents finally realized I was super special awesome, and got me the Sega master system that my gaming world changed.  I was introduced to the realm of Role playing games (or rpgs.) Beyond Oasis was the game that got me started, and it was bloody wonderful. Sure you could destroy the game in about four or five hours, but it was the first “real” game to me. Characters that had personalities, maps of a full flushed out land, there was myth and magic too! This would eventually lead me to my one true love in the gaming world, Suikoden. From the Toran republic, to Dunan and the grasslands, from island nations to other bleeding demotions nothing has held me so.

Good times my brothers and sisters, good bleeding times. 

But we are not here today to discuss the joys of my childhood (and current) gaming. Alas, I won't be able to speak fondly of my travels in Azeroth or the Queendom. No, we are here to discuss a certain group of people that do not play video games because they are "evil". That certain group, is what we call idiots.

Say hello to Jack Thompson. If you into the gaming thing, then you already who he is, a giant douche. For my fellow readers who have not allowed themselves to become on with the greatest thing ever, allow me a brief review from Wikipedia.

Thompson is best known to people for his anti-video game activist, particularly against violence and sex in video games.  This means things like GTA really piss this guy off.  During his time as an attorney, Thompson focused his legal efforts against what he perceives as obscenity in modern culture. This included rap music, broadcasts by shock jock Howard Stern, the content of computer and video games and their alleged effects on children. He is also known for his bizarre filings to the Florida Bar, including challenging the constitutionality of the Florida Bar itself in 1993. Later the Florida Supreme Court would describe his filings as "repetitive, frivolous and insulting to the integrity of the court". On March 20, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court imposed sanctions on Thompson, requiring that any of his future filings in the court be signed by a member of the Florida Bar other than himself.In July 2008, Thompson was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court for inappropriate conduct, including making false statements to tribunals and disparaging and humiliating litigants.

Thompson has heavily criticized a number of video games and campaigned against their producers and distributors. His basic argument is that violent video games have repeatedly been used by teenagers as "murder simulators" to rehearse violent plans. He has pointed to alleged connections between such games and a number of school massacres. According to Thompson, "In every school shooting, we find that kids who pull the trigger are video gamers." Also, he claims that scientific studies show teenagers process the game environment differently from adults, leading to increased violence and copycat behavior. According to Thompson, "If some wacked-out adult wants to spend his time playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one has to wonder why he doesn't get a life, but when it comes to kids, it has a demonstrable impact on their behavior and the development of the frontal lobes of their brain." Thompson has described the proliferation of games by Sony, a Japanese company, as "Pearl Harbor 2."According to Thompson, "Many parents think that stores won’t sell an M-rated game to someone under 17. We know that's not true, and, in fact, kids roughly 50 percent of that time, all the studies show, are able to walk into any store and get any game regardless of the rating, no questions asked."

Thompson has rejected arguments that such video games are protected by freedom of expression, saying, "Murder simulators are not constitutionally protected speech. They’re not even speech. They’re dangerous physical appliances that teach a kid how to kill efficiently and to love it," as well as simply calling video games "mental masturbation". In addition, he has attributed part of the impetus for violent games to the military, saying that it was looking "for a way to disconnect in the soldier's mind the physical act of pulling the trigger from the awful reality that a life may end." Thompson further claims that some of these games are based on military training and simulation technologies, such as those being developed at the Institute for Creative Technologies, which, he suggests, were created by the Department of Defense to help overcome soldiers' inhibition to kill. He also claims that the PlayStation 2's DualShock controller "gives you a pleasurable buzz back into your hands with each kill. This is operant conditioning, behavior modification right out of B. F. Skinner's laboratory."

Although his efforts dealing with video games have generally focused on juveniles, Thompson got involved in a case involving an adult on one occasion in 2004. This was an aggravated murder case against 29-year-old Charles McCoy, Jr., the defendant in a series of highway shootings the previous year around Columbus, Ohio. When McCoy was captured, a game console and a copy of The Getaway were in his motel room. Although not representing McCoy and over the objections of McCoy's lawyers, Thompson succeeded in getting the court to unseal a search warrant for McCoy's residence. This showed, among other things, the discovery of additional games State of Emergency, Max Payne, and Dead to Rights. However, he was not allowed to present the evidence to McCoy, whose defense team was relying on an insanity defense based on paranoid schizophrenia. In Thompson's estimation, McCoy was the "functional equivalent of a 15-year-old," and "the only thing insane about this case is the (insanity) defense."

Seriously what the crap?

If you have read my previous subjects and ramblings, you will see how I often note on the declining intelligence of people in general.  How parents these days seem to care less and less about their spawns, and even less about their proper development. How some people could actually agree with him is astounding, how people could practice his teaching is mind numbing.

But Hank, isn't he kinda right? Isn't their a lot of violence in video games? Isn't that bad for kids?
Violence, in one way or another, has always been in video games. If you wish to get more to the point, violence is part of life. Children on a daily basis are exposed to it, be it school (doesn't matter which type), with friends or even watching tv.Why should video games be singled out? Why should one form of stimuli be commended and not the others? You see back in my day, I had parents who mostly cared. They would watch to see what games I was playing and make sure I knew the difference between what was fake, and what is reality. They had enough presence of mind (something that is greatly lacking now-a-days) to talk/yell/drill/bslap into my head that what I do in video games sometimes wasn't the best thing to do in real life.

"Yes shooting someone in GTA might be good for laughs, but doing that to your next door neighbor is a shit thing to do (plus its less Christmas presents)."

And that is the source of the problem. Video games do not create killers, video games do not wrap the minds of our young into joining some terrorist group. They are a form of entertainment, like tv, movies, porn and the internet. Perhaps then the people who blame video games for all of life's evil should look to themselves for the answer as to why their kid is going ape shit? No. That will never happen.

That requires effort.  


  1. cool read, well written hank if not a bit long!

    Just heads up when you block quote, you should quote the person and avoid editorializing. IE keep what his correct quote is. Will make your thing more readable too because thats quite a few lines. :P cool sir

  2. Ah, that's actually not a quote from the crazy git, its a copy and paste job from Wikipedia. And thanks for liking it, not bad for having nothing to do at work one night eh?