Free to watch in its entirety for the next month on Babelgum, the 2007 documentary Moral Kombat even-handedly discusses violence in videogames and other media, with interviews from game designers, journalists, and America's favorite whack-job, Jack Thompson.
The 85 minute documentary compellingly addresses topics ranging from Columbine and 9/11 to the politics of videogame legislation and judicial rulings. Voices from both sides of the debate rationally discuss violence in media, which garners more thoughtful contemplation than the sometimes indignant moral outrage from gamers and anti-gamers alike. Moral Kombat was directed by Spencer Halpin, brother to Hal Halpin of the ECA, and employs high definition footage from all manner of games, movies and television. Babelgum, an internet TV platform, is now offering Moral Kombat for free for the next 30 days. Watch it here.
In an effort to fuel discussion of the topic and of the documentary, here are some selected quotes of the film, in no particular order:
My chief of staff then, told me he was having this argument with his son, who was 12 at the time, maybe younger, about buying Mortal Kombat. And we looked at it, it was I thought terrible. I thought that there's a real public problem here because we're working so hard to educate our children, to bring them up with the right values, to make society safe, to protect women from violence, and this particular videogame seems to be sending the opposite message.
- Sen. Joe Lieberman, D - Connecticut
Everyone knows that the judiciary in this country, particularly the federal judiciary, has a inordinate number of people in it who are First Amendment absolutists who believe, at odds with what the founders believed, that the First Amendment protects everything. Secondly, Judge Limbaugh correctly identified videogames not as speech but as in fact products. He said I believe, to paraphrase, that just because there's noise at a baseball game doesn't mean that baseball game is itself speech.
- Jack Thompson
Listen to the irony of this [argument against videogames]. Listen to the negative emotional core of where this is coming from: fear, anger, fear and confusion turning into anger, channeling it at things they don't understand, don't want to understand and that they want to attack because it's easier than opening your mind.
- Lorne Lanning, designer of Oddworld
If look at it from a historical point of view, almost all media have had to deal with themes of violence and aggression. The fairy tales, children's literature. I teach children's literature and almost every book we read from the 18th and 19th century deals with violence and in pretty vivid ways, both emotional violence and physical violence. We want our art to deal with themes of violence and aggression, because as human beings that's part of who we are and we want our art to engage with it in a meaningful way. So the problem is not that videogames represent violence, it's that videogames often trivialize violence, because it is an immature medium still finding its footing. And we have not pushed that medium to ask harder question about what the role of violence in our culture is.
- Dr. Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Studies at MIT
Watch the movie, think about the topic, and let the discussion begin... NOW!