Malik  (7/09/04)

Today I have something a little different to look at.  This is a subject that is slightly more on the serious side of things, but is quite near and dear to all of us geeks.  The short story is that Congress is having another battle versus the video game industry over violent games.  Once again, this could have some drastic and painful consequences on us geeks.  So, before you start reading this, you may want to check out's take on this subject.  Did you read it?  Well, I'll assume you did since this is something important to us geeks.

Now, I have been a fan of abolishing all things that resemble censorship and unfair biasing of any particular groups in our society, and this battle of Congress vs. us geeks is a good chance for Congress to impose some unfair titles upon us geeks.  Most of all, we can be labeled as violent and dangerously aggressive.  As a pacifist (I'm bitchy, but never violent), this in particular pisses me off.  As someone who strives, in all cases, to be as kind and considerate of others as possible, I don't want to be labeled as a angry and violent ass because of the actions of some stupid (yes, I say stupid literally...ignorant too, but mainly stupid) researchers who know nothing beyond the fact that Congress is paying them for research that states that games are bad for society and a group of upper-class snobs who have no touch with reality beyond what it takes to gain the most votes.

On a final note, all quotes are taken from one of two news columns.  I take no credit for these (in most cases...but not the McGee quote) asinine facts.

So, I think this enough background for this special serious edition of Malik's Bitchings.  Let's rock...

Beginning With Flawed Logic

"The next 12 months could see a flurry of new scrutiny of violent games because three controversial franchises are due to release sequels. They include “Doom,” notorious as a favorite of the Columbine killers; “Mortal Kombat,” with its calls for a player to “finish” opponents in myriad gruesome ways; and “Grand Theft Auto,” which exhorted players in its latest iteration to start a Cuban-Haitian race war."

By the way, it was seen, after years of study, that the Columbine killers were actually both "victims" of psychological other words, the games and the Marilyn Manson, and the Bowling that they liked so much were not the causes. Hey, if some psychopath goes on a mass-murder spree and also happened to really like Yani, would that mean Yani is a bad influence? Somehow I doubt that congress would see it that way...I know hearing Yani's music makes me want to turn violent (against the offending radio). But seriously, as reported on back on April 20, 2004, the real suspected reason behind the killings at Columbine were due to the psychological states of the two assailants. One of which is reported, by, as having a psychopathic mind (read up on it..."psychopath" is a word that many of us know, but few understand...I could go all psychological on your asses, but neither of us want do we?) and the other was depressive. In other words, for all of the dumbasses who want to go off about how video games or music or whatever made these two kids go on a killing spree need to shut the hell up. Usually, I don't like to dig too deep into, since the liberal bias of that site is just atrocious, but I think this is the best article I've seen on understanding how a mental state/psychological disorder and a love of video games are NOT the same thing. 

Also, is that the worst of GTA:VC in terms of game play and your actions to complete the game? The Haitian/Cuban conflict? one hand, this is something that has been blown way out of proportion for far too long. On the other hand...umm, I can think of plenty of other group who suffered from stereotypes and virtual many Italians/Italian Americans did I kill in the last two missions? I know it was far more than the number of Haitians and Cubans Mr. Vercetti killed, added together. 

As for Mortal Kombat...yeah...sure...I know that after I played MK for the first time, I went around ripping the spines and hearts out of every living creature I could find. Thankfully Congress stepped in...I hate to think of how many cute bunny rabbits I would've slaughtered if not for the intervention of Congress...I hate typical knee-jerk reactions from people who deem themselves too good to play video games. Seriously, if you don't have an idea of what range of content can be found in games and how it fits into the scheme of things (when you consider the context), then you should shut the hell up. I mean, with all these Congressional members going off about the evils of games that they've never tried (and hence are taking facts of the games out of context), I just ask one question; How would they react if you took one of their quotes out of context? If I took quotes from every Congressman, Senator, etc, out of context, I could come up with some cool quotes about their murderous pasts and all the sexual abuse they've inflicted on their family pets. I know this is a bit of an over-reaction on my behalf, but it's less of an over-reaction than the current (and past) round of video game bashing going through the federal and local governments of our country. 


On a final note, to be serious on the aspects of taste in entertainment and the actions of an individual; Did you know Charles Manson was a Beach Boys fan? He was. Did you know that I enjoy occasionally listening to the Beach Boys? I do. Does this make me as threat to the safety of others in a way that involves "The Malik Family" and some brutal slayings? I think not...wait...the Beach Boys are playing on the radio right now as I type...MUST KILL! Blah. Seriously, if someone who is crazy, unbalanced, mentally unstable, or whatever politically (in) correct saying you want to use gets enjoyment from some sort of entertainment, it doesn't mean shit except that you might have something in common with a nutcase. That's all there is to it. 

So, the solution to this biased information is as simple as two steps. First step; people who don't know what the hell they are talking about need to SHUT THE HELL UP! Second step; The media and politicians need to move beyond their usual sphere of ignorance and look for the deeper meaning and information behind instances of violence and other problems facing society. In other words, the media should look to it's roots to see that it can serve the public in spreading information and not just trying to win viewer ratings with shock value. As for the politicians...well, we as Americans (or all humans for that matter) tend to vote for the most exciting candidates, and not the ones who can do the best good for our society, so this crap from politicians will keep continuing until we can learn, as a people, to control our privilege to vote (some of us may see voting as a right, but we should not forget that it is, at the same time, a privilege; the only difference between a right and a privilege is that a "right" can be revoked by a corrupt political system, and in turn the use of that former "right" would become a "privilege"). 

I Love The Smell of Hypocrisy in The Morning 

"The debate reflects a divide in the way people perceive games. Are games harmless, perhaps even cathartic, as many people who grew up playing them believe? Or are they teaching kids to be more aggressive, and in extreme cases, to kill? 

To game opponents — many of whom admit they don’t play video games — it’s the latter. They point to new studies that purport to show a stronger link between violent games and aggressive behavior than ever." 

So, on the note of people claiming how certain games caused everything from the Columbine slayings to any average school yard brawl, why don't we take a better look at who is saying this. As the above quote says, most video game opponents don't play games. In fact, most have never seen anything of video games beyond the shocking images of violence shown by the nightly news as the media tears apart GTA, Doom, or whatever game is the target of the week. 

At the same time, I think it's safe to say that those opponents of video games who claim to have played video games have probably never tried one of those evil "violent" games. And I don't necessarily mean GTA. Zelda: WW did get a V on it's rating. Also, despite what the article on says, there is violence in The Sims (I love getting my Sim to get Mr. Goth pissed off enough to start shoving, hehe). There is violence in almost any game. Ever intentionally tackled the crap out of a down linebacker on one of the NFL 2K games? I have. Violence can be found on just about any game, be it sports, action, adventure, simulation (do you think intentionally starting a fire disaster on Sim City doesn't leave dead Sim people? It's arson, and arson can easily be fatal), and RPGs. 

So, I wonder, what video games have the opponents of video games played? Also, were they games that the opponents actually would find fun. I know of a couple people who would play Mortal Kombat, but found GTA games to be too pointless to play. Why would they feel this way? Because it was not their style of gaming preference. 

So, what I'm getting at is one of two points. Firstly, if you cannot stand a game, or you've never tried a game, who are you to say that it is the root of all evil in society? One cannot fairly judge something that they have no experience with, or if they have a bias-inducing experience (such as not enjoying the style of game play in GTA). So, if Congress wants to step up and say how some matter involving stocks, or home ownership, or suburban lifestyle, or a similar matter is not appropriate, then I say cheers to them. However, if they want to tell me the video games that I was raised on and they have never even seen are pure evil, then they need to step back from their hypocritical little sphere of fantasy that they live in and start accepting that censorship and biased hypocrisy are never the answer to anything. Congressional members may hold some fancy degrees, upbringings, etc, and I may not have that, but I have experience with games, and with a good assortment of geeks who grew up on games, and I can tell you that the most messed up people I've grown up with were actually the ones who played the least games (although that is probably a coincidence, but it shows that video games are probably not a problem...maybe the problem is deeper down). 

Secondly, I like the fact that video game proponents are actually usually "people who grew up playing them". Maybe this is saying something. I mean doesn't this go back to what I was just saying? These are the real "experts" on the affects of video games on developing individuals; the people who grew up with the product. I mean a doctor goes to medical school for 4-8 (or more) years to become a doctor, and then spends a long time working before he or she can be called an expert at their filed of practice. A teacher is usually not tenured (which is a sign of that individual being seen as an expert in teaching) until they have been at it for a couple decades or more. So, these people who have been around video games for the last 20+ years (like myself) should be the ones who are considered the most knowledgeable on the matter. I mean if you look at the psychologists who argue against video games, you will often times see one common link in their backgrounds; the major theories of psychology (biological, cognitive, behavioral, psychoanalytical...yes I took a lot of psych in school...I'm not proud of that...but I admit it...), they were developed and fine tuned prior to the first ideas of electronic games. So, while these experts on the human psyche can be great for analyzing my problems and trying to find solutions, I don't think they are the ones who could tell me how messed up I am by playing video games. I think the geek community is the only source I would accept on the analysis of video games effecting today's least until video games become accepted enough that there is some basis beyond personal bias to the nature of the effects of geeking out on our, might I add (once again) that the psychologists involved in the analysis of the Columbine killers found a psychological cause...not a video game related their actions. 


I think you'll find the solution in there...but if you need it said again; if you don't understand something, and you have no experience with it, then don't share your biased and hypocritical opinions when you are a person with considerable influence; otherwise you will only promote censorship...which is never the solution to anything.

The Link of Violence With Violent Games 

So, is there a real (and I mean REAL, as in not imagined in the minds of the non-geek community) link with violent games and violent actions? Well, I think if you consider this; 

"Research by Craig Anderson, an Iowa State University professor frequently asked to file supportive briefs on behalf of legislators trying to restrict the sale of games, generally goes further than other studies in showing a strong link between game aggression and violence." 

"Anderson frequently measures aggression by the pushing of a button or aggressive play. Game advocates question how that can be equated with real world violence." will see that there must be (that's called sarcasm)! This means I'm a violent or aggressive person by nature since when I play an RPG, I must usually hit the A or X (depending on the system played) like mad to get through normal battles. Damn, I thought I was just pushing a button, but in reality I was being aggressive. In fact, I'm being aggressive as I type this column since I keep hitting keys (which are each a "button") on the keyboard at an alarming...maybe even lethal if it equates to aggression...rate. Also, I have a habit of taunting my opponents when I play a game; apparently this is, since it's aggressive (like how my desire to win is also aggressive), my showing of a disturbed personality. So, what about football players? Not in video games, but in real football (American football). Should Congress ban football since players are very aggressive in nature (I know I fear for my safety when I watch a game and see a linebacker take down the QB like a sack of potatoes!)? Oh, wait! They don't hit buttons at the same time. Thank goodness! I was worried for a second that a gang of NFL players would break into my home and murder me in my sleep... 

So, if that's the best research from the "people in the know" (that would be the non-gamers who usually know nothing of geek pastimes), I think you're probably left with an important question; how far are these authority figures reaching up their arses to come up with something to back up their hypocritical bias? My thought is pretty damned far. Anyway, how much more bias could Congress look than by going to one single source over and over when they want to prove video games as evil? Not much more than they are looking right now unless they made claims along the lines of "video games raped my mother!" or some other ignorant claims that are just not physically possible. 

So, what happens if you eliminate the biased asses from the equation? Well, I think it would look considerably different. Maybe a little like this; 

"When defending games, the industry often cites a 2000 Washington State Department of Health study that found “research evidence is not supportive of a major public concern that violent video games lead to real-life violence.”" 


"Another 2000 report in the Applied Developmental Psychology journal found that “the overall picture that emerges from the present pattern of findings is that computer game play is one manifestation of an active and well-adjusted lifestyle.”" 

Well, I guess that would go against the claims of Mr. Anderson, now wouldn't it? So, I can see why Congress keeps going back to this one researcher; they don't want to lose their personal biased war...they can't let this white whale go. 

Anyway, to leave you with a final thought that is not mine on this subject matter; 

"And even the researchers who find evidence that violent games can lead to bad behavior will not say how games rank among a host of other so-called “risk factors” like poverty, abuse or neglect." 

So, even those researchers who think that games can cause violence or aggression don't even want to comment on how big of a "threat" games are. Aggression, by the way, is not a bad thing at all; without aggression, we would not have the drive to be better than others around us. Which in turn would mean that you would never have that desire to invent something before someone else, or that desire to make a better living, which is key in our capitalistic's only uncontrolled aggression that causes problems. I personally think that the lack of a good environment to grow in and be a productive member of would definitely cause more problems than my act of repeatedly hitting "R" over and over as I yell out, "suck it down, biznatch!" to Velveeta as I play Halo against her. That level of aggression and button hitting, by the way, is purely two-way (she taunts as she smashes "R" in the same way), and only serves to influence both of us to strive harder to be the best. In turn, this "aggression" actually helps us to better ourselves and to nature a good friendly (that should read: "FRIENDLY", as in we don't commit violent acts while we play in an effort to physically or psychologically destroy each other) rivalry. I know I'm not alone in this. 


The bias and ignorance of Congress and their hired researchers, like Mr. Anderson, needs to end. Plain and simple, like I said only a few paragraphs back, if you don't chose to experience something for yourself and to evaluate it from all angles, you have no right to throw yourself into the role of judge, jury, and executioner...nor should you throw censorship into the equation. I mean there are a lot of things that a majority of congressional members probably enjoy that I would find tasteless and inappropriate, yet I know I would never demand censorship to be imposed on them, because I know that a persons' behavior is not set by their interests; Charlton Hesston likes guns...a lot...doesn't mean I want to ban him from using guns in an appropriate setting since some people have actually used guns to commit acts of violence...he has his privilege, and we should have ours. 

A second part to this solution would be Mr. Anderson either being told to shut the f*** up or being asked to explain how aggressive social activities and button pressing is related to aggressive behavior. I seriously want to know, because this correlation is so inane and asinine that it hurts my head to even think about it. 

A Real Solution 

So, with all of this crap in Congress about trying to limit or ban violent games due to a completely unfounded connection between video game violence and real violence, I think the most important factor is still, after all the years that has passed between the first round of Mortal Kombat vs. Congress and this new round of the Congressional bashing of video games, being ignored is the most important. But, before I get into that, some food for thought; 

"American McGee, who in 2000 made the last mature-rated game for Electronic Arts, “American McGee’s Alice,” said game publishers try not to get engaged in the debate over whether violent games cause violent behavior. 

“They look at how hypocritical our society is when it comes to judging the content or sexuality in the media,” McGee said. “And they look at how these double standards or triple standards are applied to films versus games or music versus games or written fiction versus games, and it’s a silly argument to get involved in.”" 

Just think about that for a minute...just think...I'll be waiting. 

Video games have a ratings system that, for the most part, is being enforced. I have seen more than a dozen times just in the month following the release of GTA for the XBox (quite a few months ago) store clerks telling little kids that they cannot buy GTA:Double Pack for the XBox (or PS2) without a parent. I even saw a few ID checks to make sure the purchaser was of age. Why is this? Because the parents/guardians of a child should be key in the type of upbringing they get. While someone can argue all they want (and usually to no avail, from an academic standpoint) that video games inspire violence, but you cannot argue that these kids who are playing the ultra violent games had to have someone buy the game for them. 

So, when it comes down to it, why are we dealing with Congress trying to bash and banish our beloved hobbies, when the real answer is not what the kids are playing, but rather who bought it for them? I mean with the many different lawsuits brought on by parents of psychopath children who would act out in some violent manner and thus get into some massive legal trouble, how can they have any right to sue Rockstar, or Walmart (for selling the game), or Take Two, or Sony, or Microsoft? Was is not these parents who bought the games for their kids? Also, these parents are the ones who, if the games were influencing their children in bad ways, should have noticed and pulled the game out of their child's hands. 

So, rather than censorship, why not look at the real issue; supervision/parenting. A parent in today's world should realize that the most important thing they can do for their children is not sue Rockstar when the kids do something asinine. Rather, they should be raising their children to not do something asinine to begin with. A parent, as in a good parent, should be able to tell from the actions of their children when something is not balanced right in the kid's brain. At this point, a good parent should also take the action of getting help for their kids and not trying to pass the blame for their shitty parenting off onto a company. Rockstar makes entertaining products...they do not substitute for a parental figure. Ever. 

So, the real solution for all of this is to look at the real influences and guidance a child receives (or doesn't receive) from his or her guardian. I for one was raised with good parents who would look out for me, be active in my upbringing, and would both reward me for doing good and punish me for doing wrong. At the same time, they took an active approach in seeing what activities I was involved in, and they would halt me from doing something destructive. This led to me understanding what is right and what is just stupid. As for my friends and acquaintances; all of them who ended up closer to the side of normality and morality, they had good healthy relationships with their parents. Unfortunately, many people have children without thinking of the responsibility involved in such an act. 

For people who have a potential of having a child, they need to consider what they are getting into. I mean a child is a 18+ year job that you don't get a vacation from. It is full-time. Not like a 40 hour a week job...that is part time in comparison to being a parent. A parent needs to be on the clock 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year. While this is rough for many, it can also serve as it's own reward, if you are ready for it. You cannot pawn your responsibilities off onto the TV, movies, music, games, or whatever else. If you step up to being a parent, then you must be ready to do everything required of this duty. It's like those stupid anti-pot commercials that say that you need to keep telling your kid about the dangers of pot. The same goes for everything else. You have to be persistent to the level of, what would be for anything else, obsessive. However, you must also not be too controlling since you are dealing with a unique individual (I've seen more nut jobs come out of over-protective houses than out of under-protective houses), since one day that child will enter the real world and will either retreat into mommies arms or will go forward with reckless abandon. 

So, I hope that doesn't sound too preachy. However, that is the real solution to the issues of video games and congress. Congress should look at the parents, and not the game companies.


I know this was all a bit more on the serious side than we would normally like to see, however the social stigma placed upon us geeks by our non-geek brethren will only increase as these inaccurate and shame filled facts come to light in front of the biggest fans of censorship in the world; The United States Government.  So, next week, I will try to give something a bit more on the lighter side of geeking, but for now, we all need to think about what may be at stake; our rights and our personal image.  If you have a thought on this, feel free to to contact me or even if you have a thought on something else...or check out the forums, and tell us geeks your opinions.