Monday, January 12, 2009

Violent Opposition

From WCBSTV: Uzinagaz, a French internet game maker proves that Europeans can be just as crass and insensitive as Americans, with their game, New York Defender, in which the player attempts to shoot down airliners before they can crash into the World Trade Center and other targets.

"Use your mouse to fight the feeling of impotence" is the tagline. On the face of it, they seem to be marketing a game designed to give frustrated Americans the illusion of fighting back against the perpetrators of the most horrific act of terrorism ever committed on American soil.

From where I sit, it looks like a profoundly disturbing example of society's desensitisation to violence. As an American, this is way past the line between entertainment and tastelessness, and on into obscenity territory.

So why would anyone create such a thing? Basic economics - where there is a demand, supply = profits. And there is a huge demand for simulated death and destruction. According to the McPaper...I mean, USA Today, Grand Theft Auto 4 sales topped $500 million in the first week after it's release.

I'm not a GTA fan. Gratuitous violence does not make for compelling gameplay for me. I have no desire to shoot police officers, throw Molotov cocktails into crowds, or stomp prostitutes to death, even in a simulation. And I'm pissed off almost all the time. I don't like war games or "shooters", either. The closest thing I have to a shooter game is Army Men: Green Rogue. (Which I suck at, probably in large part due to my lack of experience in the genre).

I don't see the appeal, but clearly, millions of people do. I'm sure that violence in video games does lead to violence in real life, mostly because people are stupid. Some people are definitely stupid enough to confuse video games with real life. Hell, some people replace real life with video games.

So, yeah, it's offensive. And, it's potentially dangerous. OK, well, what's the answer here? The ratings system doesn't work. Should the games be banned? And even if they were, would that stop them, or just increase their allure? I'm not in favor of censorship on general principles, and I doubt we would get much agreement on where the line should be drawn, anyway. I don't like "for your own good" government intervention, either. But since we're doing that anyway, here's a thought: why not a "sin tax" on violent video games, with the proceeds going to anti-violence education? Anyone else got a better idea?


  1. I have enjoyed your posts. I agree with a lot you have to say. Not having an understanding of your politics, but having seen plenty of piss taking of Sarah Palin, the Bushes & various other nefarious political loons in your country, I have the feeling we would think alike on a lot of things.
    I have absolutely no objection to abrasion. it can be a very good thing!!I will think in some interview questions, & email you. You don't have to answer if you dont care for the questions- I am all for freedom here!

  2. I'll be looking forward to it! I enjoyed your blog as well.

  3. did you here about the lawsuits brought up agaisnt the wii? people are getting sports


  4. No, but it sounds like a good topic for another post.