Advice #7: Violence In Video Games

I’d like to provide the story of my life as a stark warning for those who think violence in video games is harmless, and by the end of my tale of woe I challenge you to remain adamant in your stance. The following tale is not for the weak of stomach, mind or heart. It’s a tale of darkness and deception and deceit and many other adjectives that begin with the letter D. You see, I’ve played video games since I was six years old, even younger if you count the various arcade machines I came across in my travels. Each game changed my perception of the world. Each game made me see things in a different light. Each game had its own goals and rewards, power-ups and pitfalls, glorious victories and miserable failures. They were my life, as we will see, and there are many more like me. I’m not as unique and special as everyone thinks I am (well, okay, I probably am, but not for that reason) and there are many like me out there who are too ashamed to share their stories. In my heart of hearts, I cannot blame them. It pains me to share my shame this way, but the world needs to know.

Innocent Game or Wild Ride Of The Imagination?

Innocent Game or Wild Ride Of The Imagination?

Our story begins with a classic, Jordan vs Bird for the NES. My brothers and I loved this game and we played it every chance we could. The thrills of the three-pointer, that dirty dunk just before the shot clock went off, I was hooked. I knew right away that I was a basketball player, not a fifty pound short kid from Canada. I began to seek out both Jordan and Bird that I could challenge them and show them who the real king of the courts was. The Celtics and the Bulls could hardly finish a game before I was on the courts, demanding a competition of skills. Sometimes I couldn’t even wait until the game was finished. I was tempted to get in there and play with them. I was, after all, one of the best basketball players ever. I really wasn’t, though, I wasn’t at all. I was terrible. It was all because of the god damned video game. I had to go into basketball rehab for two years. It was the first dark point in my life. The first of many.

They  should have called it Empty Promises

They should have called it Empty Promises

Upon my release I picked up a copy of Paperboy, and before I knew it I was dropping out of school again in order to deliver newspapers all over my neighbourhood. Why didn’t my parents take the Nintendo away, for the love of god? It’s because they didn’t know. They didn’t see the signs. Big bags of elastics to hold those badboys together. The millions of sample packets of Kool-Aid and light bulbs. The yellow ball cap twisted jovially backwards. The crazed look in my eyes. The fate of the world depended on me delivering those newspapers. One day I was violently ill and was unable to deliver papers to any of the houses on my hundreds of routes. If you’re familiar with Paperboy, you don’t get a second chance on any houses. If you miss a single day’s delivery they repaint their house an evil red colour and enlist Grim Reapers to walk in front of you so you hit them and fall from your bike. For some reason the world didn’t end. That reason, of course, was that life was not a video game. It was the most important thing I had learned to date, so I forgot it immediately.

Mayor McCheese would have been heartbroken.

Mayor McCheese would have been heartbroken.

For a while things were okay. I seemed like an average kid. I knew my rights from wrongs. I had my ducks in a row. All of them. That really isn’t easy to do. Then I got a Super Nintendo and things started to get bad for me again. Sim City was so much fun. I loved the concept. Building cities, attracting new people, jacking the taxes as high as possible without making people leave. It gave me a real sense of power. Within weeks I was running my hometown. I kept the taxes low and everyone loved me. They had no idea that I was the one causing the earthquakes with a simple button in my office. Lives hung in the balance and I laughed with insane glee. I didn’t care. It was all a game. Who cared if the subway line ran halfway into the lake? Not this mayor, that’s who. I was too busy smoking crack and getting drunk on the Danforth. Saving the city billions of imaginary dollars. I was on top of the world, until they elected Dave Ryan and he had me thrown in jail. He even lowered the taxes, the twerp, which would explain all of the prison one-ply toilet paper.

I really would have rather walked if that helmet was mandatory.

I really would have rather walked if that helmet was mandatory.

Whilst in the prison I continued to play video games, as they were provided to allow people a vent to blow off steam. This is when I met The Rocketeer. A jetpack? Are you fucking kidding me? I was all over it. Those god awful races that were literally impossible to win? The disconnected gameplay? It was all too great. I promptly broke out of prison with a jetpack that I fashioned out of my bed and three used toothpaste tubes. I saved lives and won prop plane races with that jetpack, little knowing that it was impossible for me to have done so. How could it have been impossible? I mean, I was out of prison soaring through the bright blue sky. I was plugging holes in delicate flying equipment with bubble gum and not bothering to fix it. How could this be anything but real? I was flying over Canada one day when I realized the truth, that I was not the Rocketeer, and fell to the ground, breaking almost every bone in my body and assumedly allowing the Nazis to win the war.

Don’t you see? If any of those games were violent games I would have been out in the streets blowing people away. It could happen to you, too! One minute you could be playing World of Warcraft and the next you’re out battling Onyxia with your buddies and getting terribly dragon burned. You could play Smash TV and go on a killing spree in your town, picking up as many toasters as you can before moving on to the next area. When will the cycle stop? Some people think it would stop with the end of violent video games, but I laugh in the faces of those people. Ha! Violence didn’t begin with video games, people. Don’t be stupid. Movies glorified violence long before video games even existed. Those radio mystery shows as well. Let’s face it, we’ve got to get rid of those as well. That’s hardly it.

Books, of course, are the most violent of all. Have you ever read The Hobbit? How about the trilogy that followed? Heads hewn, guts stabbed, throats cut. It never ends. Shakespeare is a bloodthirsty maniac, and we’re pushing that violence on our kids in school? It’s really The Story itself that has to go. They teach people violence and make it seem acceptable. We shouldn’t be able to tell any stories, real or fictional, in any possible way. We should all live in caves and never look at or acknowledge each other. We should do anything we possibly can that isn’t acknowledging that human beings are violent and confused by nature and that the violence we’re seeing around the world isn’t a symptom of a far bigger problem than something as blatantly fucking stupid as video games. It’s so much easier to think you’re fixing the world when you fixate on one thing as though there are any problems that big with a single cause. I’ll make it easy for you all: the single cause in all of that violence and stupidity is Human Beings. That’s the unifying factor.

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