The more eagle eyed readers amongst you might have spotted that the title of this post shares its name with an awesome Iron Maiden song. Being a website devoted to the gaming world, this title does have some relevance to a topic that has been plaguing my mind and the world wide media as of late. It tends to resurface every now and then when a fantastic new and violent 'maim 'em up' game is released. It is the forever raging argument that computer games are the reason for murder, theft, World War II and the kidnapping of Madeline McCann.
When Grand Theft Auto 4 came on to the horizon it would be very easy to predict that anti-electronic fun campaigners would jump on it like a wild dog going for your cat's jugular, mercilessly and likely to concern you. Mr buzzkill himself, Jack Thompson even went as far as sending a letter to the Mother of Take Two chairman, Strauss Zelnick. The goal of this letter was to bring to her attention the 'murder simulator' that her boy was inflicting upon hoards of easily brainwashed children who were on the edge of going postal. Instead, the letter found itself splashed all over the internet for ridicule from just about everyone who lay their eyes on it. It seems so mad that it would have been interpreted as a joke by everyone, if Mr Thompson did not have such a reputation for wanting games out of shops and people below the age of 30 indoors before 6:30.
Resorting to this level of playground politics seems like a very low point to stoop to, but it is just one of the many attacks that games such as Grand Theft Auto have had to endure over the years. The main argument that these anti-video game lot tend to take is that children see the character in a game kill the pixels on the screen, and decide that it would be a good idea to obtain a gun, steal a car, and shoot up random pedestrians. The idea is pretty laughable to anyone with half a brain, but it is the lengths that people are going to in order to try and justify this argument. The Virginia Tech massacre has even been blamed on the influence that computer games have. Personally I think this is just a sick thing to even hint at.
Games don't kill people, idiots do.
This blog seems to have taken a bit of a grim turn, but some of these anti-game enthusiasts need a firm kick in the backside, which I say not because a game made me think it, but because I strongly disagree with them.
The video game industry does seem to get picked on a lot just because it's different. It's the last one to be picked for football, and didn't get invited to Popular Music's birthday party, and so all of the flaws it has are pointed out by the bullies. Games really are not an evil new media, and do not deserve to be accused of murder. Films that portray shootings, beatings, burnings, lawn mower massacres and other common features go untouched by those with the vendetta against gaming. These have been around longer than the dead pets buried in your garden by the previous owners, and have faced nowhere near as much flak for their content. It is simply because this industry is a new one that not everybody understands or respects.
If there really is a problem with young people picking up games and beating each other to death with the boxes, then maybe parents should be a bit more wary about the age ratings on the side of them. It is in my opinion that if someone has managed to navigate their way safely through life for 18 years, then a video game would not play a significant part in their decision making process. Age ratings are there for more reasons than messing up box cover art.
The media is as much to blame as anyone, as it highlights this kind of thing, and gives it the publicity that it really should not have. Before anyone points it out though, I do realise the irony of broadcasting a message which has as a closing statement damning the kind of message that it has just broadcasted.