Changing Tactics in the Violence Debate

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Changing Tactics in the Violence Debate

Getting defensive won't make the argument go away.

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Here's something I've been thinking about on this issue. I don't think the government is going to really do anything to stop video games. I've been looking into things and I've found that video games have proven to be one of the military's most successful recruitment tools. The government isn't going to let that go just because some people complain. So, worry that games are going to go away is unfounded.

What we should be worrying about is the way that the government will get more involved in the production of games. They're already hugely involved, but I begin to worry that they're going to start taking control and using it for more direct propaganda, while stamping out messages they deem to be unfit for the public.

I think the worst thing one could do for games is for CNN to hire a games journalist. I mean, I guess there are worse ways, it could be FoxNews or MSNBC.

I have tried talking to my parents about games in a broader sense than they would hear about just from watching the news. However, I'm lucky if I get more than 5 seconds into the conversation before their eyes glaze over and you can hear a faint whooshing sound as every point I make passes right over their heads. Sometimes you just can't win.

You DO know those world leaders you listed aren't points in our favor right, Mr Dennis Rodman?
What about the Congress Lady who played WoW?

grigjd3:
I think the worst thing one could do for games is for CNN to hire a games journalist. I mean, I guess there are worse ways, it could be FoxNews or MSNBC.

Lord knows CNN could always use the filler

NinjaDeathSlap:
I have tried talking to my parents about games in a broader sense than they would hear about just from watching the news. However, I'm lucky if I get more than 5 seconds into the conversation before their eyes glaze over and you can hear a faint whooshing sound as every point I make passes right over their heads. Sometimes you just can't win.

Mine to, but thankfully they're also not stupid enough to think games will turn me into a serial killer.

DVS BSTrD:
You DO know those world leaders you listed aren't points in our favor right, Mr Dennis Rodman?
What about the Congress Lady who played WoW?

grigjd3:
I think the worst thing one could do for games is for CNN to hire a games journalist. I mean, I guess there are worse ways, it could be FoxNews or MSNBC.

Lord knows CNN could always use the filler

I think if CNN started reporting on games, I might have to quit playing them.

grigjd3:

DVS BSTrD:
You DO know those world leaders you listed aren't points in our favor right, Mr Dennis Rodman?
What about the Congress Lady who played WoW?

grigjd3:
I think the worst thing one could do for games is for CNN to hire a games journalist. I mean, I guess there are worse ways, it could be FoxNews or MSNBC.

Lord knows CNN could always use the filler

I think if CNN started reporting on games, I might have to quit playing them.

Even if it was Fareed Zakaria or Anderson Cooper?
Meh they'd probably end-up giving it to Pierce Morgan anyway :(

I'll repost my FB comment here:

Have you actually watched House of Cards on Netflix? The portrayal of Frank Underwood as a gamer is not something to be emulated. Underwood is a sociopath. His playing violent shooters is an extension of his lack of empathy and is an argument AGAINST gaming, not a break with stereotype.

DVS BSTrD:

grigjd3:

DVS BSTrD:
You DO know those world leaders you listed aren't points in our favor right, Mr Dennis Rodman?
What about the Congress Lady who played WoW?
Lord knows CNN could always use the filler

I think if CNN started reporting on games, I might have to quit playing them.

Even if it was Fareed Zakaria or Anderson Cooper?
Meh they'd probably end-up giving it to Pierce Morgan anyway :(

As far as I remember, Morgan was one of the few people who remained reasonable instead of bashing video games in recent months. Other than a certain "Burnett" person.

NinjaDeathSlap:
I have tried talking to my parents about games in a broader sense than they would hear about just from watching the news. However, I'm lucky if I get more than 5 seconds into the conversation before their eyes glaze over and you can hear a faint whooshing sound as every point I make passes right over their heads. Sometimes you just can't win.

In that case - get tactical. Bring up an interesting point from a game - something that made you think - and ask them about it without mentioning the game. Say, for example, the question of free will vs survival from Legion's loyalty mission in ME2. Then, once you've heard their opinions and stated your own, then explain where the question came from. And say it in an off-hand way - like "Oh, it was just a sub-plot in a game I was playing. Made me think for a moment about which to choose."

The point is to treat the game like any other medium, so don't draw attention to the game in the same way that, if it was a book that made you think, you wouldn't draw attention to the book. If people start thinking of games on the same level as books, then we're making progress.

The_Darkness:

NinjaDeathSlap:
I have tried talking to my parents about games in a broader sense than they would hear about just from watching the news. However, I'm lucky if I get more than 5 seconds into the conversation before their eyes glaze over and you can hear a faint whooshing sound as every point I make passes right over their heads. Sometimes you just can't win.

In that case - get tactical. Bring up an interesting point from a game - something that made you think - and ask them about it without mentioning the game. Say, for example, the question of free will vs survival from Legion's loyalty mission in ME2. Then, once you've heard their opinions and stated your own, then explain where the question came from. And say it in an off-hand way - like "Oh, it was just a sub-plot in a game I was playing. Made me think for a moment about which to choose."

The point is to treat the game like any other medium, so don't draw attention to the game in the same way that, if it was a book that made you think, you wouldn't draw attention to the book. If people start thinking of games on the same level as books, then we're making progress.

Exactly. Also realize that it takes time to change someone's mind. It doesn't happen immediately - shifting someone's perspective on an issue is a gradual process and won't happen over a single conversation. The trick is not getting frustrated when you don't achieve results immediately. (I understand that frustration though, believe me, I've been there.)

hoopleton:
I'll repost my FB comment here:

Have you actually watched House of Cards on Netflix? The portrayal of Frank Underwood as a gamer is not something to be emulated. Underwood is a sociopath. His playing violent shooters is an extension of his lack of empathy and is an argument AGAINST gaming, not a break with stereotype.

Regardless of Frank not being a "positive" role model (which you're right, he isn't), the portrayal of games in House of Cards is at least more nuanced than what non-players often picture when they talk about "people who play video games". Yes, Frank is a real piece of work, but he's also older, established, ambitious, smart and not at all lazy. Do I want him to be the face of gaming? God no, but at least it's something other than the man-children and passive teenagers we're often cast as. I'm saying that going forward we can keep pushing the message that many different kinds of people play and enjoy games.

I'm also okay with game-playing being seen as sometimes problematic, i.e. "game addition" - as long as it's an honest depiction.

Assuming you're right and there is actually a chance that violence in videogames might get censored, why would I want to get off my arse and do anything about it? So I can have even more CoD, GoW and Halo? No thanks. Because it's a matter of principle? Frankly, if I'm going to fight for something on principle alone, there are far more worthy causes that I could spend my precious time on.

I seriously doubt that there is any kind of link between violent videogames and violent behaviour, but I also don't particularly mind if violence in games gets cut down a bit one way or another.

Robert Rath:

Regardless of Frank not being a "positive" role model (which you're right, he isn't), the portrayal of games in House of Cards is at least more nuanced than what non-players often picture when they talk about "people who play video games". Yes, Frank is a real piece of work, but he's also older, established, ambitious, smart and not at all lazy. Do I want him to be the face of gaming? God no, but at least it's something other than the man-children and passive teenagers we're often cast as. I'm saying that going forward we can keep pushing the message that many different kinds of people play and enjoy games.

I'm sorry, but it's like saying, "doing shots of vodka is a wasteful, potential damaging recreational activity, you say? But Joseph Stalin liked to drink, and he was a successful man..."

You're missing the big picture. In everyway possible Frank Underwood is what the media imagines gamers to be: disturbed, obsessive, detached. He reinforces the notion of gamer danger. Underwood is the narrator of his own delusion, moving people around like chess pieces, pushing buttons, destroying lives. The show is the game, Underwood is the player.

When he plays games he sits on his couch unmoving, unblinking, murdering. He ignores his wife. He blacks out from the world. Presumably he's problem solving all while watching pixelated gore flash across the screen. He's playing first person shooters. More button mashing, more lives destroyed. I can't imagine that anyone watching House of Cards has ever thought to themselves, "why look at that Frank Underwood, he's playing video games, and he has a job, I guess gaming isn't that bad after all!"

The_Darkness:

NinjaDeathSlap:
I have tried talking to my parents about games in a broader sense than they would hear about just from watching the news. However, I'm lucky if I get more than 5 seconds into the conversation before their eyes glaze over and you can hear a faint whooshing sound as every point I make passes right over their heads. Sometimes you just can't win.

In that case - get tactical. Bring up an interesting point from a game - something that made you think - and ask them about it without mentioning the game. Say, for example, the question of free will vs survival from Legion's loyalty mission in ME2. Then, once you've heard their opinions and stated your own, then explain where the question came from. And say it in an off-hand way - like "Oh, it was just a sub-plot in a game I was playing. Made me think for a moment about which to choose."

The point is to treat the game like any other medium, so don't draw attention to the game in the same way that, if it was a book that made you think, you wouldn't draw attention to the book. If people start thinking of games on the same level as books, then we're making progress.

Tried that too. It works right up until the 'mention it was from a game' part, whereupon they just switch off again. :(

I think you shot your arguement in the foot when you named Kim Jong-un, Muqtada al-Sadr, and Frank Underwood as gamers. If word of that got out, we'll just trade one negative stereotype (lazy man-children) for a worse one (powermad psychopaths), which is NOT what our demographic need right now.

It's a boogie-man scare and to be honest nothing being said here is new when under fire this way. Movies, Comics, Music, and other forms of media have all gotten their turns. Chances are video games won't "win" in the short term, though things will get back to normal over a period of time. Even the "Comics Code Authority" fell, and in the overall scheme of things the UK "Video Nasties" list didn't enjoy that long a reign.

The thing to understand here is that the media, and the scared masses, do not WANT a balanced presentation, they want something to blame. Putting game journalists and such on things like CNN won't matter because they are likely to get shouted down, have what they say cut, or someone sitting right there immediatly analyze whatever they say out of it's intended context and in the worse possible light. Representation in the mainstream media doesn't generally end well for something under fire this way.

What's more, trying to change and "re-focus" how you present your product just gives the impression your trying to hide something, and at best simply means that what your producing now is going to be ignored, as your older stuff is pulled out to represent you, with the new stuff being mentioned as attempting to "hide" or taken as a sign of weakness (your changing under pressure, which you arguably are).

My basic opinion as time goes on is that games need to "hold the line" and actually embrace the things they are under fire for (the extreme violence, etc...) more vigorously than ever. Your not going to win, and if you go down, make sure you do it the right way. Eventually gaming is going to come back like nothing happened even if the worst transpires, and it's best to have as few scars as possible.

I'll also be honest in saying that at the end of the day the guys who suffer most from these mainstream pressures are going to be the big publishers like EA and Activision who are sell outs anyway, and arguably gaming might very well be better without. If the worst happens, it mostly means that it will be like the dark ages of the comic code authority where to find good comics you'll have to dig through the boxes in the back of your local comics place looking at indie titles that self-publish in defiance of the code. In the case of video gamers it will be indies and crowd funded games. When things return it will be those guys are the forefront of gaming's return, and even the remaining big companies will wind up riding their wave for a while. When you look back at comics, it's interesting to note that things like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" which wound up being hugely influential, largely became what it was because it was to start one of those "pull no punches, F@CK the CCA" titles produced in glorious black and white, that was out to tell a good story regardless of what anyone thought. See, people familiar with the cartoon turtles have no idea what actually made them, and what the original turtles were like. Among other things a "big deal" with TMNT was that the turtles killed, and killed a lot, though it was hardly a comic that set out to revel in gore or ultra violence, it was simply that Ninjas kill, weapons are lethal, when a big fight happens with guys all carrying martial arts weapons, people tend to die, TMNT told it's stories well, and didn't shy away from showing the results.

I guess my point is that I think people need to stick to their guns more than trying to play a game of adaption that is likely to fail. Even if somehow it succeeds games will "win" by becoming something other than they are to become palatable to the crusading media, and lose their entire soul in the process, they might as well not have survived at that point since everyone will become too paranoid about slotting off the mainstream to worry about what makes for a good game.

I for one welcome an era where real gaming comes from crowdsourced titles from the shadows by guys like Inxile, or Cleve (the guy who just finished "Grimoire"). While EA and Activision flail around releasing non-offensive Chia-Pet growing simulators or whatever.

Robert Rath:

TALK TO YOUR FAMILY ABOUT GAMING'S BIG IDEAS

Ah ha, haha, no. I learned my lesson the last time I referenced political ideas from Deus Ex.

deathbydeath:

Robert Rath:

TALK TO YOUR FAMILY ABOUT GAMING'S BIG IDEAS

Ah ha, haha, no. I learned my lesson the last time I referenced political ideas from Deus Ex.

This is why you have to make your own political position very clear, independently of the games. Then mention how some games disagree with your ideals, how some agree with them, and in general just show that your position isn't affected by the games.

Robert Rath:
Changing Tactics in the Violence Debate

Getting defensive won't make the argument go away.

Read Full Article

Mr. Rath, I'd like to say I really enjoy reading your articles here on the Escapist. They have become something I look forward to, so thank you.

I'd also like to ask your opinion on a situation I was recently in. At a family get together recently one of my relatives asked what I was interested in lately and what my recent hobby was. I said it was videogames, and endeavored to do what you described in this very article, try and talk about why I like the medium. I told him about the Art Deco architecture style of Bioshock and the 1912 style of Bioshock:Infinite and both of their fascinating period/ideology themes. He wanted to see it first hand, and since I had a tablet nearby I was able to show him an E3 demo of Infinite that had lots of structures and buildings to look at. At first he was intrigued but as soon as the hand with the gun came up on screen he showed immediate distaste and asked me what this was. Bear in mind, I had spent at least 5-7 minutes explaining the cliff-notes of the backstory, while I never said it was and FPS, the backstory implied that the story would eventually get violent. He didn't want to watch the rest of the video and said something along the lines of "everything you said until this point was great, but its just another game where you shoot people".

After everything I said about putting the player in a challenging environment where you would confront racism, nationalism, and corrupted Christianity "its just another game where you shoot people". Never mind the art and graphics devoted to sell that you are in a CITY IN THE SKY where all this stuff is happening, "its just another game where you shoot people".

You sort of already answered this in the article, but I have to ask, what are we to do when faced with people like this? This was a 59 year old man who I would call a progressive in most of his views. He is generally accepting of many things but immediately shut off as soon as he saw the gun on the screen.

Should we even waste time trying to engage people like this when their mind has been made up for them by the bad press games get in the mainstream media?

I'm really glad you said what you did in that last paragraph. Eventually these people will be phased out of our society and their jobs will be taken over by younger people who play games... because... young people games now, right? I'm not saying we shouldn't fight the good fight and improve our image, we should. But I think there are certain situations where we should just invest time in shields and defense tech, turtle up, and wait for our time to come.

While there are a few video games you could show someone and have them be impressed... but the overall body of work is sort of hard to defend. Not every game is Saints Row, obviously, but when damn near every major adult-targeted non-sports game has gameplay centered largely around killing other humans, it's a little hard to sit an outsider down and say "this isn't mentally harmful at all!" Even if it's not, it's hard to convince them of that.

Ishal:
You sort of already answered this in the article, but I have to ask, what are we to do when faced with people like this?

Ummm... you admit that they are 100% correct? Isn't "just another game where you shoot people" a completely accurate description of BioShock?

It is possible and for some even preferable to look at objectivism and fictional alternate-reality architecture without blowing everything to bits.

Ishal:
This was a 59 year old man who I would call a progressive in most of his views. He is generally accepting of many things but immediately shut off as soon as he saw the gun on the screen.

Maybe I need more context, but I'm not seeing what's so bizarre about someone "shutting off" at the sight of yet another game where you shoot people. Quite a lot of serious gamers have the exact same reaction.

Ishal:
Should we even waste time trying to engage people like this when their mind has been made up for them by the bad press games get in the mainstream media?

Again maybe I need more context but based on what you've said I see no connection between his reaction and anti-game-violence media.

Ishal:
Never mind the art and graphics devoted to sell that you are in a CITY IN THE SKY where all this stuff is happening, "its just another game where you shoot people".

You do realise that the game is going to be 95% shooting and 5% "all this stuff is happening" right? I know you do, because you've played BioShock.

Guy Jackson:

Ishal:
You sort of already answered this in the article, but I have to ask, what are we to do when faced with people like this?

Ummm... you admit that they are 100% correct? Isn't "just another game where you shoot people" a completely accurate description of BioShock?

It is possible and for some even preferable to look at objectivism and fictional alternate-reality architecture without blowing everything to bits.

Ishal:
This was a 59 year old man who I would call a progressive in most of his views. He is generally accepting of many things but immediately shut off as soon as he saw the gun on the screen.

Maybe I need more context, but I'm not seeing what's so bizarre about someone "shutting off" at the sight of yet another game where you shoot people. Quite a lot of serious gamers have the exact same reaction.

Ishal:
Should we even waste time trying to engage people like this when their mind has been made up for them by the bad press games get in the mainstream media?

Again maybe I need more context but based on what you've said I see no connection between his reaction and anti-game-violence media.

Ishal:
Never mind the art and graphics devoted to sell that you are in a CITY IN THE SKY where all this stuff is happening, "its just another game where you shoot people".

You do realise that the game is going to be 95% shooting and 5% "all this stuff is happening" right? I know you do, because you've played BioShock.

Except that its not. The game (from what I'm lead to believe from whats been covered of it thus far) is indeed a shooter, yes. However, the action doesn't even start until 30-45 minutes in, or so many have said.

Of course it will be violent, actually... its going to be excessively violent. You have a 3 pronged rotating hook that can rip off a mans face as a melee weapon. But unlike other games thats not all it is. There is other stuff there, things to observe... NPC's to listen to to gather information... not to mention a (hopefully) compelling story.

Others may wish to experience it w/o blowing everything to bits, then they should go find a game that does that and steer well clear of this one. Journey and To the Moon are perfectly enjoyable games. This one is an action game, where.. surprise surprise... there is action. But unlike a game such as Mortal Kombat... violence is not the end that is sought after. Its only there because the creators felt it tied into the story, and because it is an action game. If they were telling a story that demanded less shooting then there would be less shooting.

The best thing about this medium is that people can play whatever they like, it is very diverse. Violence is there as a tool in this medium just like it is a tool in any other. Perhaps I did leave out some parts of the context. What I was trying to describe were the themes of the game and how they could be taken seriously and used in new ways in a game. However simply having violence suddenly pop up should not negate everything else that is being conveyed. Its fair that something like this may be unpalatable to some, but simply dismiss everything else out of hand because of it is foolish and childish.

Ishal:
But unlike a game such as Mortal Kombat... violence is not the end that is sought after. Its only there because the creators felt it tied into the story, and because it is an action game. If they were telling a story that demanded less shooting then there would be less shooting.

I believe you are incorrect on all counts. Violence is indeed the end that is sought after. Modern AAA game design typically involves designing a game first, then adding a story (sometimes literally after the whole game is finished - see the dev interviews about the Uncharted games). This is not just my "opinion" talking. There are countless articles about how games are developed and the various ways that story is integrated. When making Bioshock Infinite I would bet a lot of money that the developers first decided to make a shooter and then started thinking about where to set it and what story it should have.

Ishal:
Its fair that something like this may be unpalatable to some, but simply dismiss everything else out of hand because of it is foolish and childish.

But did he dismiss all games, or just the ones that primarily involve shooting people?

At risk of sounding like kind of a slacker... personally I think there's not much gamers and the industry needs to do about this issue. It'll blow over, and history's on our side on this issue.

I'm (just) old enough that I've seen this entire issue play out before with one of my other great loves - heavy metal music. Back in the 80s and early 90s parents groups and governments and the like were really, genuinely concerned that heavy metal music was a cancer that was turning people into murderers and rapists and otherwise evil sorts. The whole "if you play it backwards you hear..." thing, those deaths where the kids being Judas Priest fans was somehow deemed relevant, Marilyn Manson and Columbine, teen suicides, the "shocking and disturbing" lyrical imagery of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Pungent Stench, people seriously had their knickers in a twist over this stuff.

Despite the best efforts of various groups and some very sane and reasoned arguments, it wasn't the metal music industry or its fans that resolved the issue. Instead, the public and the media just got over it of their own accord and moved on to blaming the next big thing - which, ironically, was video games. Even five years ago I'd wager the media would have been more interested in what music Anders Brevik listens to (serious hand-wringing time if it turns out it was Scandinavian black metal) than what video games he plays. But now it's all about the video games.

That same cycle has played out time and time again - there's always something society blames for its various ills. Too much television, Elvis shaking his hips, whatever.

My point is that eventually the wowsers will move on to the next big scapegoat and leave gaming alone. It's unlikely you'll convince them of anything in the meantime because they're not rational people to begin with. IMO all you can do is leave them be and wait them out.

Or remind the host that games have protection under the First Amendment?

While that may very well work in America, it doesn't outside America even a few miles to the North in Canada and especially not in the UK.

In fact I wouldn't be surprised if it was counter-productive, populists parliamentary democracies tend to resent being limited by hard-to-amend constitutions, they like the idea that you can literally do anything with a simple majority vote of who happens to be in the Parliament on the day of the vote.

You won't have to look far to find "oooh, look at all the trouble America has with it's constitution" of course referring to how hard it is to get liberty infringing laws passed and actually applied, but the implication is clear that the constitution caused the problem, not the politicians over-reaching.

I mean the ACLU would spin on their heads if republicans even suggested passing some of the laws even our left wing governments have actually passed.

UK may be secular, it may be liberal, but it's very reactionary. Anything that diverges from an idealised "Little England" is liable for the chop. America has it's mythological past and so does UK.

Great article, as always. There are just a couple of stylistic issues and political faux-pas. First of all you can't "reverse numbers" when you've only mentioned one (and even if that number hadn't been pluralized, "reversing 58%" isn't inherently a useful thing to say). Also, saying that things are going to change in the future anyway doesn't help the earlier message of saying that gamers need to go on the offensive.
Then: politics. Comparing the gaming lobby to the NRA, the most powerful lobbying group in Washington, and thus implying that the gaming lobby need to be as big as the NRA is a bit of a hyperbole given the relatively trivial nature of games in running a country (not to mention how detrimental a lobbying group can be to democracy when it gets such a stranglehold on national politics, as the NRA clearly illustrates). Also, it wasn't the youth vote that won the 2012 presidential election, it was the Hispanic vote. And naming a malevolent dictator as an exemplar just hurts the article from a PR standpoint.
Besides all that though, this is still an inherently good article, content-wise. Personally I find that Bioshock, Fallout (3) and Portal are good examples of discussing games with people who trivialize them.

"A man chooses, a slave obeys."
"War... war never changes."
"Now you're thinking with portals."

Those are all quotes (respectively) which clearly illustrate deep philosophies and ideas which show how gaming has matured. But, more importantly, those games also use gaming's unique interactivity to express those ideas through play. That's a necessary requirement for understanding what gaming brings to the table in terms of being a creative medium.

P.S. Dear Esther.

Ishal:
He didn't want to watch the rest of the video and said something along the lines of "everything you said until this point was great, but its just another game where you shoot people".

Well I had a similar response when I introduced such games and gave them a taste of their own medicine:

"yes, and why does that compromise anything? If you don't want violent conflict then you can forget most of Shakespeare's work and most Oscar nominated movies of the past 70 years. Macbeth is ultimately just about stabbing people. Not that this is Shakespeare or Oscar material, but conflict makes for compelling narrative, who would care about Star WARS if Luke Skywalker stayed on Tatooine and had peaceful relations with The Empire?"

See I'll tell you what my problem was and what I think my problem was as well, it was how I sold games like Bioshock as a movie, rather than a game. Talking about the superficial, what the environment looks like, what the plot details are, rather than what the game ACTUALLY is. And it's something that you can't simply show to people any more than you can describe a song to someone to the extent they will appreciate it as much as if they had listened to it.

Frankly, showing someone a game rather than letting them play it is like letting them see you dance to music only you can hear. They don't appreciate he beat, they just see you acting weird... music must be the devil. They see you enjoying gunfights and killing people, must be wrong, they don't see why as they are not in a position to understand.

And extending the music analogy, you can't get a 59 year old to appreciate Avenged Sevenfold just by making them listen to Avenged Sevenfold, you need to ease them into such things with an evolution, and evolution you likely skipped if you started listening to such music or playing such games when younger and more open minded.

But you need to go back to first principals. These heavy metal bands didn't come from nowhere, their music is in fact an evolution of what came before. And same for games like Bioshock.

I would call a progressive in most of his views.

Probably because most progressive people are extremely cautious about violence, and they really need to be challenged on their double standard. I went to see Carmen with my Grandfather and it's a production entirely based on violence and conflict. But it's his favourite Opera. Take out the violence and the story really has NOTHING to go on!

But they are conditioned that "oh, this fictional violence is acceptable" but everything else, it's different, it's perverse, it's corrupting. So rather than it being "a game about shooting people" by corruption it is "JUST a game about shooting people".

It's like trying to get them to appreciate the art styling in Bioshock is like trying to get your grandpas to appreciate the subtle chords of a thrash metal song where they are just so jarred by the screaming.

The important thing with Bioshock is putting a gun in your hands you have to walk a mile in their moccasins, this isn't an experience where they can safely observe as a god-like observer as in movies in books. It's your back to the wall, it's all happening to YOU, and you are responsible for what happens to others. You can second guess the actions of a character in passive story, but here you don't have that luxury. I wouldn't be surprised if a pretty progressive 59 year old wouldn't appreciate a game without acknowledging that.

grigjd3:
I think the worst thing one could do for games is for CNN to hire a games journalist. I mean, I guess there are worse ways, it could be FoxNews or MSNBC.

It's a bit of a side-note, but don't bother taking sides between CNN and MSNBC. That's like taking sides between the Montagues and Capulets. Really their comparative superiority is negligible when compared to Fox News (the sleeping draught).

hoopleton:
I'll repost my FB comment here:

Have you actually watched House of Cards on Netflix? The portrayal of Frank Underwood as a gamer is not something to be emulated. Underwood is a sociopath. His playing violent shooters is an extension of his lack of empathy and is an argument AGAINST gaming, not a break with stereotype.

Hey, all publicity is good publicity. That goes for games too.

Guy Jackson:
I believe you are incorrect on all counts. Violence is indeed the end that is sought after. Modern AAA game design typically involves designing a game first, then adding a story (sometimes literally after the whole game is finished - see the dev interviews about the Uncharted games). This is not just my "opinion" talking. There are countless articles about how games are developed and the various ways that story is integrated. When making Bioshock Infinite I would bet a lot of money that the developers first decided to make a shooter and then started thinking about where to set it and what story it should have.

Any other game and you'd probably be right, but in this case you just lost that huge pile of money you bet. Ken Levine and the rest of the lead designers have actually been quite open about the design process behind "Bioshock: Infinite" throughout development. In one of their first press conferences (GDC) they actually talked about how the primary outlines of the game consisted of its setting (asthetics, timeperiod and its associated philosophy), which was literally written down on a paper napkin during a lunch-break. Bioshock: Infinite is one of the few games out there which has the funds to apply the bottom-up approach to video-game story telling and actually go through with it.

Farther than stars:
Then: politics. Comparing the gaming lobby to the NRA, the most powerful lobbying group in Washington, and thus implying that the gaming lobby need to be as big as the NRA is a bit of a hyperbole

I think he was just giving an example of quite how much further the game advocate lobby could go, not how far it should go.

And as someone who has engaged with the NRA, their arguments are so effective because they go beyond the sound bite. They will argue the details and broad implications. Like point out how the previous Assault Weapon ban didn't stop they very things they were designed to stop and was so ineffective that there was no fight to prevent it lapsing in 2004.

They have very similar arguments to the lobby opposing the War on Drugs, they point out how criminalising what a huge proportion of the population does and of which the overwhelming majority of them don't directly hurt anyone else isn't a good idea. They point to examples of countries who have gone either way on these issues and the negative or benign consequences.

But this thread shouldn't turn into an off topic discussion of "Ban Assault Rifles(sic)" or "Legalise weed" the point is to learn how these are sides in the debate that make emphatic and clear arguments.

We need to be much clearer and more consice in our arguments. We need to refuse to accept careless indifference, that if they are going to legislate on my media then they damn well better know what they are talking about.

Like point out how games censorship in Germany means the few German developers who are left ignore their own home market and piracy is utterly rampant as it's the only way to get versions that haven't been altered to government demands.

So, I think I'd like to provide a summation of a section of the comments here. A lot of us would prefer to have some dignity by not doing these things. I'd prefer not to have my hobby represented by a d-bag that says things like "the only way you stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun". Also, I think we'd rather not be a part of the noise machine which is cable news. I mean, have you ever watched cable news? It's the lowest form of life on Earth. Basically, Robert Rath, the writer of this article who I respect a great deal, is asking us to throw away what claim this medium has to art and throw in with a hive of scum and villainy. Look, I, for one, don't need to convince the rest of the world this is art. Screw the rest of the world and what they think. They're targeting games right now because they are stupid enough to think that games are an easy target. It's not true and games have already been protected by the Supreme Court, further discussion annulled, no need to say goodbye as the door hits your ass on the way out. This debate is over and we won. What we are hearing now is pitiful gasping by an enemy that is largely extinct. I will not waste my time fighting the boogey man on CNN. Until 70% of the house and senate can come to an agreement (HAH!) to make an amendment to the constitution, and then have it ratified by the states (HAH! HAH!), there is no threat to my hobby. Besides, if it ever comes to it, all we have to do is shout the words gay marriage, without saying what side of the issue we are on, and the country will forget about video games.

Look, I like that this is a subculture. Subculture means you might possibly read this comment (though doubtful). Subculture means that we can still exist in some pseudo-community. Subculture means that when I meet a new person and smell that hint of nerdom, I can instantly break the ice with the slightest reference to Baldur's Gate that no one but someone in the club will understand. I don't need nor want this popularization that so many in the gaming media are aiming for (aside from the bigger pay check it might mean for them). The debate has no effect on whether good games will be released. The debate has no effect! The Supreme Court has made certain of that (unless you are dramaticizing about a congress that can accomplish something).

"...though research has failed to find a link between virtual and real-world violence..."

Aaaaaaaaand stopped reading there.

Kotaku are horrible video game journalists
Fox news are horrible normal journalists
It's like they were made for each other

I like the idea of starting a National Games Association that will get the same sort of law-influencing power as the NRA. Someone from the states, get working on that!

8bitlove2a03:
"...though research has failed to find a link between virtual and real-world violence..."

Aaaaaaaaand stopped reading there.

Why? Because it's true and you don't like facts in your articles? Please, show me where research has found this link, because they haven't. The closest thing they've found(in experiments usually run by someone against video games) is that playing competitive video games can make you more aggressive while playing it. Like every sport in the world.

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