I’m Looking at You, Parents!
In the 3+ years I’ve been on social media, I’ve had the dubious distinction of having every bit of journalistic tripe thrown in my face from all directions. Where some users simply shrug it off, others seem to have their ENTIRE WORLDS torn asunder. So what do these slighted souls do? They write a passion-riddled blog post, record an emotional vlog or go on HOURS LONG rants where they lambaste those who have what could even remotely be a dissenting opinion.
In truth, having the sad spin on reality doled out by my local news stations is something I’m accustomed to. Yeah, I was one of those kids who had a parental figure that was ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED with watching the news. Rape, murder, accidental death, houses burning down… and it seemed to happen every damn day! Even during these more tender years, I started to notice a pattern: the news NEEDS headlines, because getting headlines translates to higher engagement and approval ratings. Get those numbers high enough, marketers seeking airtime during a commercial break will start knocking down your door!
It was around this time that I saw how the voice of the media can become skewed by the Almighty Dollar. I can’t say that I blame them, even back then, because we all have to make that money somehow, but when you combine that need with the overall gullible nature of your average daytime television viewer who recently learned how to use Facebook, you can have one hell of a problem. So what was once broadcast to a relatively small audience has now been perpetuated across the Internet, with accompanying “insightful” comments from all walks of life.
So what happens when a story “goes viral”? It’s effects can last for months (even YEARS) and generate even more news stories as more slack-jawed commenters continue to drop little nuggets of online wisdom like “diz is SHIZZ” and “teh gaemrz iz med”. This bullshit money grab has even invaded our own gaming community. It almost seems like FOX NEWS and CNN love taking potshots at gamers whenever a tragedy involving young people occurs. So how do I handle it? Much like I did when I was a child: IGNORE IT!
However, now that I’m older and even a mentor for at-risk youth, I STILL find stories that blame violent video games for youth violence. Much like the scare that was conjured up when Mortal Kombat started tearing up the arcades. How did the media respond?
Today, it’s really no different. There are people who like violent video games, those that don’t, and some who’d LOVE nothing more than to eradicate these games from existence. Never mind the fact that even in 1993, the sales numbers didn’t lie. Ten years after its release, Mortal Kombat raked in more than $500 million in revenue, but due to its violent content, some arcades and stores refused to stock the game and of course, prompted the birth of the ESRB rating system in the United States. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the service provides information on a game’s content so that parents could make informed decisions before purchase.
Does that mean they use it? HELL NO!
Shit STILL Hasn’t Changed
By now, I’m sure that many of us are aware of the media’s attempt to link violent video games with the horrific crimes perpetrated by Warren Leblanc and Adam Lanza. But here’s one critical element that they continue to omit when going on their long-winded rants: THE PARENTS! Where were Leblanc’s or Lanza’s parents before their heinous crimes? NONE of the news reports that I came across showed a sign of an involved parent who regularly engaged with their child. In fact, it was THE MEDIA that misconstrued the statement’s of Pakeerah’s parents in order to score headlines! Think I’m playing? I even made an INFOGRAPHIC about it!
There was even this dude on Reddit who shared a story regarding the ESRB and how they are NOT a substitute for parents or even a fucking babysitter! As of today, that article is sitting at over 30,000 views, and the Reddit comment section?! ABSOLUTE GOLD!
When I was a kid, I remember walking into the video store and seeing a 12-year old boy loudly arguing with his mother on WHY he should be allowed to rent Grand Theft Auto. However, the lady stuck to her guns and told him that the game wasn’t appropriate for him, and picked up a copy of Spyro the Dragon while offering him an ultimatum: this or NOTHING! Finally relenting, the child ended his tirade and they quietly walked up to the counter.
Shortly after they left, another kid walked in with his father, and strolled right up to the stranded copy of Grand Theft Auto. Confidently thrusting it into his father’s hands, they walk up to the counter and ring out, with the father even taking A GLANCE at the ESRB rating that was clearly displayed on the cover art. Granted, maybe the kid had rented it before and the father was completely aware of the game’s now comical violence, but given the countless outraged posts I see from outraged parents, I HIGHLY doubt it!
It’s been stated countless times that knowledge is power, but not everyone seems to subscribe to this approach. My theory: ignorance is bliss. Let’s face it, life can be tough and it seems easier to just hide away from the world at times. No one understands this natural reaction better than parents, who have to deal with work, bills, and ever-changing children. However, they begin their dark descent into madness if they start blaming DEVELOPERS instead of themselves when Lil’ Johnny picks up a copy of Playboy: The Mansion.
Calling for an outright ban on violent video games that were clearly marketed towards adults is a dangerous move that not only strangles creativity, but also directs us towards a totalitarian state where we are TOLD what we can ingest. Sit on that one for a second, angry, misguided parents. Would you want some big head in the sky telling you what to watch or listen to? Could you TRUST them to give you what you truly want?
Let’s not all forget that line between entertaining and offensive is fuzzy, at best. Just ask Gilbert Gottfried, who tried to make a 9/11 joke shortly after the disaster occurred. Apparently, he was emotionally ready to make light of a very serious situation, but his target audience didn’t feel the same way and he got some backlash. Hell, there might have even been a few people in the room who had moved on as well and found the joke funny, but the overwhelming and vocal majority chose to ostracize him in the name of “good taste”.
If you don’t like violent video games, don’t FUCKING PLAY THEM! Don’t want your kids playing them? Here’s a novel idea: ask them WHY they want to play it! Everyone gets curious about the more mature aspects about life, albeit at various times, and it’s up to parents to make the BEST, MOST RATIONAL decision for their children, you know, one that’s grounded in REASON and MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING! If you keep telling your kid “no”, shortly followed up with “because I said so”, guess what? THEY’RE GONNA INVESTIGATE ON THEIR OWN! It’s called The Forbidden Fruit Theory, look it up!
Do you really want to be THAT person?! Quit blaming others, hike up your big person drawers, and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! Stop playing The Blame Game and take charge of your life!
I, for one, enjoy explicit video games geared towards adults and would gladly invest in titles that are fun and challenging. And even better, I’m NOT alone!
Lumpz the Clown OUT!
Lumpz the Clown, The Clowny Gamer
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