Guest Blogger – Stephen Pratt

7 10 2008

Ok, so here’s the much anticipated guest blog… may i add that these thoughts are those of the editor and not those necessarily held by myself or the other pea brainers =P

It may seem spaced out, because i copied and pasted. for those who don’t know, a ‘frag’ is a kill in a video game.

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Gamers Frag in games, not in the real world

A few weeks ago, I heard about an incident in Taiwan, in which a 19 year old boy murdered and robbed a taxi driver, because he wanted to see if it was as easy in real life as it was in Grand Theft Auto IV; a game which he was addicted to.

Being a gamer myself, I was interested. A Google search led me to the London Times website, where I found out that the teenager had freely confessed his motives during questioning and had shown no signs of mental problems.

Excuse me? He’s just killed a taxi driver and robbed him in order to get more money for gaming at an arcade; because that’s really normal and people do that all the time, and there’s no reason at all to doubt his sanity!

A glance at the related links column told me that the London Times was just another media organisation that shows prejudice towards gamers; all the links were to articles about the detrimental effects of violent games and making the UK rating system tighter.

I quickly grabbed four articles, but given more time it would have been many more. All four say more or less the same thing; ‘violent video games are turning the children of the world into crazy axe murderers and we have to stop this via legislation and ratings.’ 

Wait a minute, I’m 17 and I enjoy playing computer games when I get the chance (i.e. when I’m not doing homework), and most of the games I play are ‘violent’ first-person shooters, which are supposed to be the most mind-warping if you believe the media, but funnily enough I’ve never had to strain against any inner demons urging me to go on a rampage in a public place, or run down pedestrians while driving, and I’m not the only one. 

Many gamers in their 20s and 30s are making comments similar to my above comment, and I haven’t yet seen a comment saying ‘I tried, I really did, but I lost control of my hand and the old man was annoying me…’

If you look at the demographics of gamers, you will find that every kid between 5 and 13 enjoys gaming of some sort, with the boys preferring more violent games such as Lego star wars (if you kill someone, they break into their individual Lego bricks) to games like Learning To Count With Jeffrey. Funny, that. 

Those that game over the age of 13 are likely to continue to game until they are in their twenties. These gamers will naturally gravitate to the true gaming scene and possibly become hardcore gamers. This means that they will create an alias for themselves which they use all the time, and will prefer one or two genres of games over others. 

I believe that the biggest issues in sorting truth from fact are a) what younger gamers play is not monitored by their parents and b) some older gamers develop unhealthy addictions.  

Many parents are not comfortable with the idea of their young children roaming around outside, and the backyard can be a dangerous place. The solution? Plonk Johnny in front of a gaming console and let him go for his life. The main issue with this parenting mentality is the fact that the parents very often don’t monitor what their children are playing. This is especially an issue with children under the age of ten, who are still in the process of establishing moral and ethical boundaries in their mind. I don’t have to explain much about a game called Resident Evil 4 for you to know that it is probably not ideal for under-tens. 

While damage may be done to children from playing particularly violent games, this may not show itself until they are teenagers and start to experience real stress in their lives *cough* schoolwork *cough*, and they may snap and enact some of the violence that their soul was nourished on when they were younger.

So in this case, the games are not to blame, other gamers are not to blame, retailers are not to blame and developers are not to blame.

Essentially, parents are to blame for not monitoring what their young, impressionable children are playing and seeing, and treating the console as a babysitting device.

As I have stated above, the Taiwanese teenager was addicted to GTA4. Personally, I think that such an addiction constitutes a mental problem, or at least is caused by a mental problem; a video game addiction leads to irrational behaviour in order to satisfy the addiction, and this is what is seen in the Taiwan incident.

However, just because an older gamer becomes addicted doesn’t mean that they are oblivious to their own addiction, and it also doesn’t mean that they will be prone to violence; it may simply mean that they attempt to use a ‘scroll of fireball’ against someone who is inhibiting them. 

Lastly, why do they always seem to pick on video games? What about movies, newspapers even! 

One joke that has been going around amongst gamers after the media has gone crazy about this kid in Taiwan is: 

“I wish someone would commit a murder and say that they did it because they saw it on the evening news; the look on the journo’s faces would be priceless as they tried to spin that!” 

So my advice to the media is this; stop picking on video games when you spoon-feed everyone violence every single day in the newspaper, the news on TV and your websites. Also, treat games like every other mode of entertainment; what about violent movies affecting people? I never hear about that.

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There was an image, which didn’t copy. i’ll try get it up here later. i had 4 or 5 other blogs to post both here and elsewhere, which have unfortunately left my mind. they will no doubt come back over the next few days WHILST (dont worry if you dont get it…) i am away, during which i shall write them down. 

 

Eric, bcmcb, and many other randoms.

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3 responses

8 10 2008
{} portal gun 4 birthday! {}

wow, who is this guy?

no,seriously, i do get fired up about many things, this topic being one of them

b****y media hypocrites!

8 10 2008
Alyssa

on “media hypocrites” i believe they ‘have a go’ at gamers because gamers are actually doing the violence [ableit virtually], they’re having a hand in it so to speak, as opposed to movie watchers etc. Not that i necessarily agree but i think its a good point and i think the issues in this blog are worth a think over.

28 12 2008
Thorium

yes, in games the gamer has a hand in what he’s doing (i say he to represent the majority of gamers), but in a movie the effects are often much more realistic, and usually when gaming it is pretty clear that what the virtual you is doing is completely ridiculous.
also, as a reader im sure you could relate to this alyssa – when reading, one often places oneself either as or alongside the protagonist, and in their mind’s eye play their own part. the biggest difference is that a computer screen will display a clearer and more consistent image than your minds eye.

feel free to criticise this analogy, as i know its not exactly strong.

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