Monday, April 23, 2007

Chasing Shadows On A Cloudy Day

It's become a real annoyance to me lately how much Jack Thompson has been targeting a favorite hobby of mine (video games), when there are much greater injustices in the world for a lawyer of his caliber to focus on. One only need to watch but a few minutes of the local newscast, or pick up a paper to see that the world is very much turning to shit at an alarming rate. Now it can be rightfully argued that bad things and bad people have been around since the beginning of time, and we now just get wind of it much faster due to Al Gore's greatest invention….the internet. Nowhere near as epic, but equally opinion swaying a power, CNN is due it's respectful nod as well, I guess. Rumor has it that some people still watch tv these days. The point is, you'd be hard pressed to find anything in the media that's considered uplifting for a change. If you don't think so, just keep a mental tally of the stories you hear about for the next couple of days, and you'll soon be drinking from the same cup of wine that the rest of us have been sipping from.

So what does this have to do with video games? Well, a lot more than you may give it credit for. You see, the woes of the world is a complex philosophical puzzle. A puzzle with a whole slew of variables that make it pretty hard to nail down one driving force in particular that is the cause of it all. Sure, certain people in the media might like to jump in the spotlight momentarily and play the whole "The Code is Evil" angle to the fullest, but the truth of the matter is video games are about as harmless as a rain soaked kitten. By themselves, they are but a means of entertainment for millions of people. Millions of hardworking, trustworthy, and otherwise respected individuals who are just trying to get by in life like the rest of us. Although some in high places would lead you to believe that those that play them are horrible, socially withdrawn psychopaths in the making, it's just not like that in the real world.

Sure, there are people out there in the population who fit that profile, but they would still very much be there whether video games were around or not. I can't speak from experience, but I'm fairly confident in making a wild assumption that brooding ,would be killers and the like are more focused on feeding their need to do "evil works", than busting through a few levels of Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt. They just have more important things going on in their minds, I guess. Which is why, I am puzzled by the (bowel) movement to try and associate video games and all sorts of sensationalized acts of horror. But I'm getting away from the point, here

I'm going to say something as a self described lifelong game player that is probably going to surprise quite a few people. There is still hope for Jack Thompson. There, I said it. Now before you choke on your cold beverage of choice and "perch the bird " for me, give it some thought. The video game community as a whole is failing to step up to the plate and make our names synonymous with peace, harmony, and all those other beautiful words that conjure up visions of sugar plum fairies, wet nosed puppies, and the flashy smiles of third world children on those early morning "feel good" commercials. In short, we need to stop firing back with the same type of angry finger pointing, and make it a point to show Jack and his followers that there's a lot more to us than meets the eye. Let's get one thing straight though. It's going to take a little more than a few well placed commercials, internet petitions, and lobbying groups like the Video Games Voters Network. Yes, all these things play a part, but it's going to take quite a bit more than this.

From the highest held positions in the video game industry, to the kid next store who holds the neighborhood LAN party on a weekly basis, we need to lead by example, and get back to the time when accusing a few million lines of entertaining code for enticing riots and other acts of insanity sounded like the most ridiculous thing in the world to associate together. We were doing so well, but somewhere along the line, a few aberrations from the social norm were tied to some less than spectacular things, and it just so happened that the guilty might have played a video game or two in their existence. They most likely ate a few hundred hero sandwiches, watched a few sunsets, and giggled at a few bad jokes along the way too, but these things were lucky enough not to be blamed by psychologists and lawyers as an influence second only to the Devil himself.

The overwhelming majority of video game aficionados out there who have tasted the forbidden fruits of the video game world are as normal as the rest of us. It's about time that these people are showcased for their positive influence on society, and are able to rise above the bad rap that they've been tagged with. Now will some kind folks please take Jack out for a night on the town, and show him some great times filled with video game goodness? I'm convinced that the right mix of people could turn this train wreck around, and change a few opinions in the process. Even the Grinch, with his heart two sizes too small was able to see the error in his ways at the end of the day, and he stole Christmas! We'll be waiting for you.

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