Gamers v Lawmakers, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About this Country's Real Problems and Hate Video Games - wizardneedsfood Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Gamers v Lawmakers, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About this Country's Real Problems and Hate Video Games

Gamepolitics is reporting that the U.S. Supreme Court will review Schwarzeneggar v EMA. If overturned, it could make it illegal for retailers to sell "violent video games" to children.

Now, I don't know exactly what they mean by "violent", but let's just assume that they mean M-rated. Now, of course, most retailers have policies against selling these games to minors, which I think is not only perfectly within their rights, but also commendable. But the ESRB is a self-imposed and voluntary system, just like the MPAA. And just like it's not illegal for movie theaters to let kids into R-rated movies, it's never been illegal to sell M-rated games to whomever wants them. And I don't think anyone on this site will disagree with me when I say it shouldn't be.

But this pressing legal issue is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The problem is that there are STILL old farts parading around Washington and cable news and anywhere else there are are other old farts to listen to them. And the more they open their mouths, the more gamers with any sense at all realize they're becoming dodderingly irrelevant and embarrassingly ignorant of the gaming landscape.

So I just thought I'd go through a greatest-hits of all the things I hear these jackasses that haven't played a game since Pac-Man say that makes me want to pull either my or their hair out.

ARGUMENT: "They're marketing this filth to children!"

Response: First off, no. They're not. I've never seen an advert run for a violent, M-rated game (say, God of War or Halo) during any sort of children's programming...and yes, sometimes I watch children's programming, so I'm qualified to make that judgement. Second, we know you don't have any sort of research to back this up: partially because it just doesn't exist, but mostly because we know it stems from ignorance as to who the audience for video games is. Even though "Mature" (as in sex and violence) are actually becoming increasingly mature (as in great storytelling, moral choice, and deep thematic issues), the geezers out there still think games like GTA, Mass Effect, and Bioshock are being marketed to children, because OF COURSE video games are only a hobby for children!

ARGUMENT: "Anything to make a buck!"

Response: OK, sometimes this is true. But it's true for licensed games and shovelware...which generally aren't among the most sex-and-violence-filled games in the industry. If violence was the only money-making draw in video games, wouldn't crap like Carmaggedon or Postal 2 be the most lasting product in the industry? Wouldn't ultraviolent junk like Madworld, or any M-rated game on the Wii, be selling better?

ARGUMENT: "They're teaching people to murder, be terrorists, etc.!"

Reponse: I'm thinking here of a couple of specific examples: The Beltway Snipers and 9/11. Apparently, the Beltway Snipers learned to snipe from playing lots of Halo 3. Now, I don't know a whole lot about real-life sniping, but what I do know, combined with what I know about Halo sniping, is enough to know that this is nothing but downright laughable. Pointing a cursor and clicking the button are not quite the same as actually aiming a gun and pulling a trigger, especially if you actually want to hit something at distance. And apparently the terrorists who slammed planes into the WTC, Pentagon, and ground learned to fly from playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. And I don't know a lot about real-life flying, but I'm betting it's slightly more complicated than a few QWERTY keystrokes, you know?

ARGUMENT: "SEX! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!"

Response: Because this is, in fact, a video game website, I'll assume most of my reading audience knows about the Japanese game RapeLay. Of course, I find this kind of "entertainment" disgusting and everything, but I also know that a) there's a little thing called free speech, and b) this kind of crap is not widely available. You can't buy it anywhere but in Japan or through Japanese retailers, and the people buying it are probably already into that sort of ickiness apart from video games. And when the fogeys start ranting about obscure things like it on national television, you know what I imagine the developers' repsonse is? "Thanks for the FREE NATIONAL PUBLICITY, suckers!"

And I won't even bother mentioning the vast parades of idiotic lunacy that were the Mass Effect/(SE)Xbox and GTA/Hot Coffee scandals.

ARGUMENT: "Video games are not art, do not resemble art, and should not be legally protected as art."

Response: Once-great film critic and increasingly-irrelevant dinosaur Roger Ebert is probably the most well-known and recent purveyor of this argument. His stance boils down to this: games are not art because you can "win" them. The competitive element, the set goal, apparently negate the artistic merit of video games. To that, I can only say LOLWUT? Mr. Ebert, that is a completely arbitrary and stupid distinction. A dude can put facial hair on the Mona Lisa and make a dirty joke, and that's more artistic than something that dozens (if not hundreds) of people put time and effort and hell of a lot of money into in order to make an enjoyable, worthwhile experience for millions of consumers? I call BS. They might say these games look nice, but won't change the way we think about the world or make us any better for the experience. I'd say the same thing about the Vitruvian Man, but I'd never dream of calling it anything but art.

Here's hoping the Supreme Court can keep their heads out of their asses long enough to make a well-informed decision on this and realize that video games are due a little respect...after all, it is the 21st century now.

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