Growing up, I often found it necessary to defend my gaming habit to those who found video gaming nerdy or childish. Today, however, Gamers are no longer subjugated to these stereotypes, as gaming is on its way to becoming a widely accepted form of entertainment in all aspects of life, from little kids playing pokemon, to moms playing brain age, to jocks playing halo. The retarded high school fuedal system of popular kids and nerds is on its way out, with gaming bridging the gap.
However, in light of recent events, it appears that despite all of our efforts, ignorance is still alive and well, and we may find ourselves defending video games once again. This time however, we may not be defending our popularity, but our very right to play video games themselves.
Despite our best efforts to educate society, there are still hundreds of thousands who still unfortunately believe that all video games are for kids. Just like movies and books, certain games are innapropriate for children of certain ages, due to their mature content which can be enjoyed by mature gamers. And though society is very familiar with the ratings system in place for movies, many parents will buy any game for their children, assuming that games are nothing more than glorified electronic toys, and still some parents simply dont care what their children watch or play. Once these same parents come to realize what they have allowed their children to play, their reaction is similar to that of parents over television programs such as south park. Many parents were extremely upset with South Park because "cartoons werent supposed to be like that." This unfortunate assumption was based on the fact that most animated programs in the past HAD been created for children, but they would soon realize that cartoons do not have to be for children. Cartoons are only one form of entertainment, and as such, are one of the many mediums that can be used for different purposes and appeal to different audiences.
The initial assumption that "all games are for children" has led to many contreversies in the past, especially those involving violent video games such as Mortal Kombat, Doom, and the infamous grand theft auto series. Generally, the first reaction to these contreversies has always been to get rid of violent video games altogether, despite the fact that violence is freely allowed in movies and television. With the introduction of the ESRB ratings system, however, it has become somewhat more obvious the varying content of video games. Still, there are those who, for some reason, wish to fan the flames of ignorance.
The Godfather is considered to many to be a masterpeice among films. As such, there are countless movies involving mature themes such as sexuality or violence that are greatly appreciated by mature audiences. Our basic freedoms allow us to enjoy these movies, despite their subject matter, as they are a form of artistic expression. Not allowing us to watch movies based on their content is not only denying us, the viewer, our rights, but the creator of these films their right to express themselves. The same goes for books and music, though music has shared a similar fate to video games in the past.
Grand Theft Auto 3 is an interactive game based deeply on the organized crime themes of the Godfather. It takes place in a free roaming environment of incredible depth where you can perform a wide variety of things you could do in any city, within certain restrictions of course. However, because the environment of grand theft auto 3 is a fictional world, a player can occasionally, if he chooses to, and generally the case is, perform illegal acts in the fictional environment in the game, in order to experience a life of crime in a safe way, without actually breaking any laws in real life. That is the main draw of this game: experiencing what it is like to be a criminal. The reason this is so appealing is that in order to experience this sensation in reality, one would have to actually perform illegal acts, risking both imprisonment and death. In the game, one can enjoy these things without risking either.
The Grand Theft Auto series is a prime example of how hard some people are trying NOT to understand. Just like the Godfather, Grand Theft Auto is a fictional experience. In addition, it involves mature themes, and should not be played by small, immature children. Despite this, many parents allow children to play violent and or innapropriate games, which may be too much for them to handle. At such a young age, these children are very impressionable, and allowing them to play these games is extremely bad parenting. Being as impressionable as they are, the game COULD in effect be to blame for certain violent or innapropriate behavior, as a result of the child imitating the game. However, the parents are directly responsible for the upbringing of the child, as they purchased the game in the first place.
Children, being as impressionable as they are, pick up on just about anything, and as such it wouldn't be unlikely that after playing GTA, a child might decide to try and find their parents handgun. This is why immature children should NOT be allowed to play mature games, as their actions CAN be influenced by televison, movies, music, and video games. Good parents should censor what their children watch, listen to, and play.
However, mature players of games with such content know the difference between games and reality. An eighteen year old boy who has watched a violent movie knows better than to try and imitate the things from the movie, because the movie is fiction. Any eighteen year old boy who watches a violent movie and decides to go kill someone based on what he has seen in that movie does not have a firm grip on reality, and should not have been allowed to watch the movie in the first place, as he is mentally unstable and should seek immediate attention.
The same goes with video games. You are responsible for your own actions. You cannot blame them on a video game. If anyone decides to commit a crime in real life because they have in a video game, they are assuming that it will reach the same results as the video game. This would imply that the person believes that they cannot die, or that the rules do not apply to them. This also implies that the person does not understand the difference between reality and fiction. Only mentally incompetent people such as these could ever be influenced by a fictional game in such a way, and in any other situation, blaming your own conscious actions on anything other than yourself is called SCAPEGOATING. SCAPEGOATING IS WRONG.
Lately, using Grand Theft Auto as a scapegoat has become popular in the United States. This would not have happened if it were not for defendants such as Jack Thompson, who somehow believe that a person should not be held accountable for their actions if they got the idea from a video game. Jack Thompson doesnt seem to have anything against violent movies or tv, but believes that our rights should be infringed upon by banning violent video games, rather than better enforcing the current ratings system, which strengthens the principle that adults know better, and that children who do not know better should not be allowed to play the games at all.
It is my principle that when a person becomes offended by something, they try to change the world, rather than change themselves. Most people fail to change the world, and soon learn to change themselves. However, when someone in power becomes offended, and has the power to change the world, they will do so, at the expense of everyone else. Jack Thompson, as well as a few other people, are the ones trying to change the world to fit the way they like it, not to remove injustice or solve a general problem, but to eradicate the world of something they disagree with. "I'm right, you're wrong."
Ignorance is an unfortunate thing. It leads to terrible things, which are what I afraid are on their way to us gamers. "Bookburning" is a terrible crime of censorship, and it is EXACTLY WHAT IS COMING if something is not done. The only way to combat ignorance is intelligence. However even if there were a person in power who disagreed with Jack Thompson, then he would only be trying to change the world because of something HE didnt agree with, which is just as much of a crime.
Which is why I have a suggestion. We're all thinking it, but I suggest we say it. I'm suggesting the first, full scale protest against the actions of the "Jack Thompsons" of the world. My words may not have been perfect tonight, but I believe you have all understood my cause. Ignorance has found its way into power, and as long as those with influence are allowed to turn their opinions into law, our freedom to disagree is slowly being flushed out. Though there are those with power opposing these attacks, we must all rise up and join in. We are allowed to enjoy many freedoms of entertainment, involving classic books, films, and music, of varying content and subject matter. WHY SHOULD WE GIVE UP THIS RIGHT CONCERNIGN VIDEO GAMES?!
Please help me. We could just sit back, assuming this will all blow over. After all, these people are way too stupid to suceed.
Let me tell you something. These people may be ignorant, but they are not stupid. They have the power to say what you can or cannot play, and it has already happened in Australia. Do you want it to happen where you live?
I am considering starting a web page. Please, if you want to protect your rights, offer your opinions, your support. With enough attention, we can defend ourselves once again.