Saturday, July 2, 2011

Commentary: Video Games 1, Overzealous Opportunists: 0 (Again)

So the Supreme Court showed some actual common sense (mostly) in finally ruling that ALL video games (no matter the rating) are protected free speech as well as a form of entertainment and NOT "murder simulators" guaranteed to turn Little Johnny into Ed Gein within three seconds of picking up a controller. While it's unbelievable that it took so long, HOWEVER there's a new and more annoying issue that's cropped up. While the ruling DOES state that it's fine for minors to BUY M-rated video games, I HOPE that major retailers such as GameStop and others continue to enforce the ESRB ratings and ask for ID and.or refuse to sell ANY Mature-rated games to underage kids. Why? Pure common sense is the answer.

As long as the retail end of the business doesn't give the ill-informed (and mostly non-gaming) parent groups, opportunistic politicians and egocentric windbag talking TV heads (many who use opinion and emotion as a poor substitute for facts and fact-checking) any ammo to use against the industry, this new fake outrage will dry up and blow away. As it currently stands, even The Daily Show's Jon Stewart was suckered into using gameplay footage the latest Mortal Kombat on his show a few days ago to prove a pretty damn obvious point: Yes, SOME games are TOO damn violent for most people to watch. I was surprised he didn't use any video from Duke Nukem Forever (given that game's status as current punching bag o' vileness by some writers who should know better), but amusingly enough, the new MK's gore and outrageous slo-mo X-ray damage stuff makes Duke's new game look like a poor Tetris clone in comparison.

That said and done, what I think needs to happen is some game publishers need to sit down with a bunch of these overzealous anti-gaming types (and John Stewart, before he turns into Dennis Miller) and explain (with demos) that there are many different types of M-rated games including some where any violence serves the particular story being told. Games such as Dead Space 2 is a far different experience than a Heavy Rain, which is a completely different experience from Red Dead Redemption or a Metal Gear Whatever (and so forth and so on). Somewhere in that dialog, it WOULD be nice to add that a career in the industry might be a good idea for some kids who tend to game a wee bit too much for their parents liking. Provided the child shows some talents outside of solid controller skills and is good with people, there's a possibility of a future making games (and not necessarily ones where heads explode every three seconds).

By the way, if you're AGAINST video game violence but go all out in your love for boxing, MMA/UFC/Pro Wrasslin' football or any other contact sport where REAL people can get hurt or killed, you're a big, fat hypocrite who needs some actual perspective dropped gently on your head. And finally, a note to those who CONTINUE to argue games will make Little Johnny go all loup garou on the neighborhood: do you also keep your daughters away from those Harlequin romance novels in fear that they'll end up as porn stars? Hmmmm... I thought not. If you DO... well, someone needs help, but it's not your kids...

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