***Editors Note*** The Padsmasher award, and to an extent The Why We Love Videogames Award, mean different things to different people. In the case of the Padsmasher it certainly has two meanings in our community. First off, to some it means the games that are intentionally hard, the ones that are designed to both drive you insane and give you a tremendous level of self achievement when you defeat that cleric beast in Bloodborne, get to grips with the precision in Super Meat Boy; or if you are Community Member CherryScones, just learning when to and when not to jump in Destiny.
The other aspect is the game related real life occurrences that leave us shaking their head. Certain Videogame retailers charging £10 more for a preowned game than a brand new one, Fanboys incredibly sense of entitlement when the months “free” Plus and Gold games are announced. This year, the Padsmasher winner falls into the latter catergory.Whenever there was a major tragedy in the world in 2015 it felt like you could start a three day countdown before some media outlet, whether this be TV news, online or newspapers, would find a tenuous link in order to blame our favourite hobby. Although the best example has to be that ISIS are plotting terrorist schemes using the coins in Mario Maker on their PlayStation 4. I had a brief conversation with one of past staff writers about this, I say brief as I managed two sentences before she went on a rant of epic proportions; so I felt there was no one better to talk about The Media Blame Game than her so let’s welcome back Sarah Findlay.
You know what I love to do? Apart from sit in my pants and eat cheese obviously. I love to fire up my console when I get in after a long day and kick the sh*t out of some people/orcs/demons who definitely deserve it. I do this as a release of the day’s trials, which have usually left me with a twitchy eye and a desire to bury my face in a brick wall. What I don’t do is rush out and shoot up my local college (I’m actually studying there so it would be a bit backwards). And I’ve been kicking the sh*t out of bad guys since I were but a lass; I would say I’m not violent. In fact I would say I’m a pacifist (until I see Jeremy Clarkson on those stupid adverts).
But video games are the cause of all violence today. There clearly weren’t any mass murderers or terrorists before video games. Nope. Video games are EVIL. Children are being subjected to more and more violence – they’re being taught to vent their rage as aggressively as possible and are becoming desensitised to violence. Their poor fragile little minds are being warped. Won’t somebody please think of the children?!
But are they? Actually being warped? Or are we (by “we” I mean other idiots who don’t play games) just finding something – anything – to blame for today’s scary changing world?
There have actually been studies into this area to determine whether or not children are affected by the violent games they play. The problem is everywhere I look the results seem to contradict each other and it appears to be one of those subjects where your own personal opinion will colour your interpretation.
So it’s best to try to take a sensible approach and look at this as mature adults, rather than entering into lazy scaremongering a la tabloid journalism. There are many proven benefits to playing games, particularly for children, e.g. increasing learning capabilities, improving moral codes and allowing them to vent any frustration or anger in a controlled environment. (This is all very familiar, as if I’ve written an article along these lines before…) Every researcher involved in investigating this area says the same thing – games are only part of our culture and other environmental factors need to be taken into consideration. The fact that teenagers who go on killing sprees play games is irrelevant; the majority of teenagers play games so it’s inevitable that some of the murderers will be gamers.
We’ve been here before. Everything in our culture that is new has been subjected to criticism and accompanied by a huge dollop of fear by those who are afraid of change. Rock n roll, violence in movies, sex in movies, violence in books, sex in books…it will continue to happen because we don’t like change and we need to blame the wrongness in our world on something, instead of ourselves.
As a civilised society we should look at changing laws that allow easy access to firearms, review the rating on games (this seems to be a grey area and a lot of parents have concerns), actually look at what our children are doing with their spare time…It’s far too easy to blame game publishers and others who are shovelling violence into our children’s faces when we should recognise that times are a-changing, they’re always a-changing (that’s the funny thing about time, it never stays the same) and move with those times, take responsibility for ourselves and those we profess to care about.
My yearly moral rant over, I’m off to eat cheese and hunt some orc. Here’s a quote for you to ponder while I’m away philosophising over cheddar and the best way to lop off a head:
“Violence is man re-creating himself.” Frantz Fanon