Maybe the video game industry should take a minute and sincerely re-evaluate itself as it shoos away the unwarranted number of fingers pointed in its direction following the heinous shooting in Connecticut this past week.
This isn’t to say I agree with the ignorant criticisms being pinned to Bioware and the gunman’s Facebook ‘Like’ing of the Mass Effect series because a) almost everyone likes everything on Facebook, and b) for the 100+ hours spent playing through the Mass Effect narrative, almost all of it is spent trying to save life, and reinstating peace and harmony among a variety of different cultures/beliefs. Sometimes it’s just easier for people to deal with a situation when they have somewhere to hitch their grief, and make martyr to tragedy, a scapegoat, or obvious guilty party.
Comments made in a period of mourning need to be taken with a grain of salt. These aren’t words fueled by level headed thinking. These people are understandably upset, angry, and want some fucking answers, want someone to pay for this shit, and unfortunately they’ve congregated around Bioware’s Facebook page, torches and pitchforks. I don’t agree with this. But I agree with the rage, and the idea, that maybe as a nation, people in power, of influence, need to be held accountable (in general, not specifically to this tragedy) to some extent, and should be aware of the importance of responsibility.
Should game developers be forced to change, or reduce the amount of violence in a game, the narratives, or glorification of certain taboos? Absolutely not. There are creative freedoms here, which should be defended with extreme prejudice. Should game developers be more careful how they market these experiences? Maybe.
As technology continues to advance, the line between reality and fantasy becomes increasingly blurred. What if developers spent more time and focus on making the simulation of murder and death as uncomfortable and traumatic as it could be in real life? With games like Call Of Duty sending gamers into a virtual battlefield, awarding kill counts, it is a valid argument that maybe these sorts of consistent experiences might be desensitizing our society to the idea of ‘consequence’.
Should parents be held, in some regard, accountable for their children’s actions? We can sit around and point fingers at game developers all day, but the fact of the matter is – the same parents who are quick to judge these developers for creating violent experiences which allegedly motivate and fuel the need for heinous acts of mass murder, are the same parents who irresponsibly purchase and place these experiences into their children’s hands. And if these parents honestly believe Bioware and Activision are creating killers, then these parents put the gun in the hands of (any shooter) of (anysmalltown, USA).
At the end of the day, these innocent children were shot dead. It wasn’t a piece of software that pulled the trigger. It was an American. And he used a gun.
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