Monday, April 7, 2008

New Media Technologies Blog - Entry #10 Stephen King On Violent Video Games

Stephen King's Article: Video Game Lunacy

I could not agree more with what Stephen King has said in his article and I think he raises some very interesting points. Sure, violent video games do in fact offer a alternate reality experience where you can take the role of a character who can and most likely will kill another human being in the game world. But the fact of the matter is that certain people in this world are simply unstable individuals who probably shouldn't be playing violent video games in the first place because they for whatever reason cannot handle acknowledging that what you can get away with in a video game should be separate from real life. By that, it isn't the game's fault or the fact that the Virginia Tech shooter was able to possibly gain ideas about how he might kill his fellow students by playing the a game such as "Counter Strike", but rather that he was allowed to acquire a loaded gun. Whether or not he enjoyed violent video games is besides the point completely, because if it had not been a video game, it would would have been something else within our current culture of violence that would have set him off. As for for "Counter Strike", an online game where you play on teams designed around Counter-Terrorists and Terrorists, several of my friends played this game religiously and enjoyed it immensely without taking their violence to another level altogether.

It was awhile ago, but I remember a friend of mine telling me about a story, either a film or book, I'm not sure. It had something to do with a group of kids that enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons, or something to the effect of a role playing game. In the story, one of the characters enters a the classic scenario of the "Maze and the Minotaur", but the player is mentally unstable from the get-go and loses all sense of reality and starts believing that he is really inside that game's imaginative world. Ultimately the story ends with the mentally unstable player mortally wounding the Minotaur only to show as an aside to us that the Minotaur was not a beast, but simply one of his friends that is also playing the game. The story ends with the unstable kid not knowing what he has just done to this other boy. In other words, the kid simply couldn't handle the culture that was presented to him and if given a weapon, therein lies the true essence of danger, not the game itself.

So yeah, I think Stephen King's article makes an excellent point about how foolish it is to attack video game violence in this way. And the true thing about it is that even you were to do this and start banning games in this way, it will change nothing because of how culture is today. That's the simple truth. However, the only thing it will change is that the companies producing these games now have a smaller market in which to easily sell and distribute game to, which means less revenue and overhead on their time and money pumped into the game's development, which leads to games getting canceled or not given an opportunity for sequels.

Now, this is a bit different from my Jack Thompson entry, as I do agree with some of Thompson's statements about video game violence, including his attacks on franchises like Grand Theft Auto. The difference is, Thompson wants to enforce that the rating system of video games is held intact and that the availability of mature video games are more regulated so that only those 17+ can get a hold of them. Basically the same as how R rated films work in movie theaters. Unfortunately, the regulation of mature video games is not quite on the same scale as the theater industry, which still isn't saying much.

And just for the record, I'm not the greatest fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. So I support Thompson on that issue at hand. I'm probably one of the few hard core gamers out there that has anything decent to say about that man. lol



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