Malik  (7/29/04)

A Rockstar Game Once Again Blamed For Violence 

This time, it's not GTA, but instead it's Manhunt. According to a news item I found at Gamespot, it seems that a 17 year old in the UK (England) who played Manhunt killed a 14 year old in a rather gruesome fashion, involving a claw hammer and a knife. So, the natural reaction, either by the victim or the perpetrator, is to blame Rockstar...I mean they keep telling me to kill...blah. 

Not to sound insensitive, but this is total bull shit. First of all, this kid who committed this gruesome act is 17,and in England the game is rated for 18 and over (in the UK they call it a "18 Certificate"), and as I just said, the murderer is 17. So, first off, like with anything involving minors and murder, why don't we try looking at if the kid was even being watched, at all, by his parents/guardians. I mean, for one thing, if this game is not rated for a minor, than it is purely hypocritical to blame a developer when a minor has access to the game and not to look to the parents. Secondly, as it says in the article; 

"There's been no longitudinal research following adolescents over a long period, looking at how gaming violence might affect their behavior," said Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, who called for more research. 

So, we, as a society, should never immediately blame some third party for someone's failing before we consider an important line of thinking...if there is no evidence that something else caused a problem, then could it be possible that the person to blame is actually the person to blame? In other words, could the 17 year old have been to blame? Could he have been unbalanced in some capacity? I know that despite Doom being partially blamed for Columbine, the two assailants were actually psychologically pays to read all sides of the issue, including those with actual research and not just blind speculation, before forming a solid opinion...but then again, Reuters, the big media outlet had this to say about Manhunt; 

"it awards extra points to players for carrying out murders in a particularly extreme and bloody way, while victims plead to be spared on behalf of their wives and children." 

Which is...ummm...almost 100% wrong. I love when news agencies jump to conclusions about something without giving any thought about doing a little of...what's that word...research! This type of biased and unfounded reporting is what causes parents to blindly blame video games when their children do something wrong or when their children are affected by someone who's done something wrong. It's an easy scapegoat, and far easier than blaming someone who may actually be responsible...I mean, how are you going to get sympathy from the public at large when you blame Mr and Mrs X for their bad one cares or knows about the X family. However, the ignorant masses know all about the evils of Rockstar and their violence inducing, Haitian hating attempts at poorly raising our children! Ok, for those who are on the slow side, that was a shit load of sarcasm. 

Video games do not cause anything. While they can serve as a good outlet for our frustrations, or serve to divert our attention away from the more depressing issues at hand, they do not teach us moral evils. I've played literally hundreds of games involving a gun, and I have no idea of how to fire, load, and properly maintain a firearm (I know you pull the trigger, and some other details, but I've learned no more about firing a weapon in real life from Rockstar than I learned from Saving Private Ryan). Plus, I have killed several million virtual lives in everything from Wolfenstein to GTA to KOTOR, and I can tell you I am as morally balanced and pacifistic as humanly possible. 

To sum it up; while I feel empathy for anything dealing with uncalled for violence (in particular, to those who are most likely smaller and less able to defend themselves; like a 14 year old lured into a trap by a 17 year old), I also have strong feelings to those who blame the entirely wrong and innocent for something they did not do. Rockstar did not kill the child in this article...a messed up 17 year old, who probably has some underlying psychological problems and a lack of proper supervision and upbringing, did the killing. Rockstar cannot be blamed for trying to make some money and make some entertainment for a mature audience. 

It is this type of crappy decision making, which invokes a strong sense of blame on the video game companies, that leads to our chosen passion being stigmatized as wrong and evil. While I've learned more about how to use a weapon in the real world from movies, they will never recieve the blame for violence like a video game will. Video games are simply not played by as many people as those who watch movies. It is always easier to push down a minority group, be it ethnic, favored form of entertainment, or other affiliation, than to look at the reality of a situation. I'm not trying to say that the discrimination against geeks is anywhere near the tragedy of discrimination based on sex, race, or religion, but it is uncalled for, none the less.

On a side note; just because a game is rated Mature, it doesn't mean it fits for your playing even if you're in a "mature" age group. Maturity is something that comes with personal psychological growth. This, and personal taste in entertainment, is why some children are perfectly able to handle a mature game like GTA:VC and why some adults simply cannot. To often the word mature is tied into an age group, when some of the neglectful parents who refuse to properly supervise, raise, or seek help for their children, despite being in the 30's, 40's, or above, are simply not mature, even with age.