MovieBob: It's scapegoating, in other words - the "kill everyone who doesn't look like you!" dictum of your average FPS didn't grow in a vacuum, its part of a bigger ugly side to our society... But singling out and attacking JUST gaming's version of it lets people avoid admitting just how big the problem really is.
For me, personally, this is the big "down side" to having Western (particularly American) developers currently being the industry's overwhelming driving force: we INSTANTLY took the WORST things about our (Western/American) culture - the deification of the gun and the romanticism of gun-use as some kind of righteous thing unto itself - and turned them into the focal icon of a medium that can be so much more.
Jim Sterling: It's certainly a wider cultural problem than just games, but that only serves to enhance my original point, rather than refute it, I feel. The fact that "gun porn" is such a huge part of our culture leads me to further question why School Shooter should be singled out for being so honest about its violent, amoral content. You are absolutely correct that television and movies have incredibly questionable subject matter at times -- in fact, there's stuff in films that are far, far worse than anything School Shooter has presented so far, and with an equal amount of artistic merit. This makes the singling out of School Shooter even more ridiculous to me.
I certainly understand the argument concerning the developer's motives. He gives the impression that he's looking to troll, or shock, or cause some kind of disturbance. Who is giving him that power, though? The people who are angrily accusing him of trolling, shocking and causing a disturbance. I've always held the belief that the only way to combat offensive content is to not be offended. It's our negative, hurt, upset reaction that gives offensive content the advantage. Why are racial slurs so powerful, for example? It's because of how we react to them. If we could casually write off such slurs, or even learn to laugh at how inherently meaningless and silly they truly are, then racists would be robbed of their biggest weapon. Words only have the meaning we ascribe to them, and so too does School Shooter only have the meaning you give it. In a way, it's not School Shooter's fault that it's so horrific -- it's the fault of those that are horrified. You can make your own Freddy Krueger reference at this point.
There are better games to discuss the artistic merits of, and I can appreciate the frustration that we're stuck talking about this one and not about, say, the sexual abuse implications in Killer7 or the aforementioned September 12. At the end of the day though, we're the ones choosing to talk about it. We, the gamers, are paying as much attention to School Shooter as any detractor. It's up to us, I think, to care more about the worthier games. A game like School Shooter couldn't survive in a world where the gamers (not the Jack Thompsons, who can safely be ignored at this point) don't raise an eyebrow.
MovieBob: I'm not arguing that School Shooter SHOULD be singled out - just that it's possibly helpful to step back from the immediate gut level reaction we as "game people" tend to have about stuff like this.
Even still, I don't necessarily think this particular game needs some kind of credit for "honesty" - there's a difference between honesty about the base-level exploitative nature of shooters that you see in, say, Duke Nukem and THIS, where the "honesty" is mostly unapologetic laziness. Again, that's not to say I condemn it; but it doesn't need any kind of "defense." As the saying goes, "Shit has its own integrity."
Be sure to come back next week for the rest of the discussion.
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